IT WAS not a good idea for the children or friends of Earl Morton Washington Jr. to be playing hooky on Germantown Avenue when he was driving the Route 23 Trolley.
"He would stop the trolley with passengers in the middle of the street, get out and yell at whomever he saw, telling them to get their butts back to school," his family said.
"Many passengers would agree with him and yell out the window, 'Yeah, that's right, get back in school!' "
That was the kind of dad, granddad and great-granddad Earl was - deeply committed to education and hard work, and not very tolerant when he encountered those who didn't agree with him.
Earl Washington, a SEPTA trolley operator for 39 years, Army veteran of World War II and active churchman, died of pneumonia and heart failure Nov. 29. He was 92 and lived in Mount Airy.
Earl also was active in his community. He served as president of the West Weaver Street Civic Group. He organized trips and drove the neighborhood children to places such as Parvin State Park and Clementon Amusement Park in New Jersey, and Hershey Park.
He was baptized at the Enon Baptist Church and later joined Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, where he became a deacon. He served as a bus driver and usher, and worked in the Mount Airy Christian Day School in security and maintenance.
Earl was born in Philadelphia to Dorothy E. Gilliam and Earl M. Washington Sr. He graduated from Thyne Institute, a school for African-American students in Chase City, Va.
It was there that he met his wife, Virginia L. Flowers. They were married Jan. 12, 1946.
Earl enrolled at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama after graduating from Thyne. He was drafted into the Army in 1942, and attained the rank of sergeant.
He was discharged in 1944 and took a job with the old Budd Company in the shipping-and-receiving department.
He went to work for the Philadelphia Transportation Co., the forerunner of SEPTA.
His family said Earl was a great tease, and liked to keep his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren amused. But he also wouldn't take any nonsense.
"With his deep, boisterous voice, he would scare most kids straight both at home and in the neighborhood," his family said.
Besides his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Earlene and Dorothea; three sons, Craig, Garry and Brent; 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.