ON A CLEAR, chilly day in November 2004, then-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney stood inside a large white tent set up on the brick plaza outside Boston City Hall. Romney wasn’t there to deliver a speech or cut a ribbon. He was there to sing a song—something he did with gusto as he joined the Kingston Trio in a rousing rendition of “M.T.A.,” the well-known ballad about a “man named Charlie” doomed to “ride forever ’neath the streets of Boston” and become “the man who never returned.”
The purpose of this unusual concert was to launch the “Charlie Card,” an electronic fare card that has now replaced tokens on the Boston subway system. “I’ve always wanted to do that, since about the fifth grade,” said Romney, after singing the song that has become not only part of American folklore, but a proud part of Boston history.
History is a complicated business, though. Sometimes places, like people with selective memories, omit parts of their history to avoid inconvenient truths. There were signs of Boston’s historical amnesia at work that day. Continue Reading