The trolley comes through Green Town one morning, a familiar sound. But at noon, when Doug and Charlie are outside playing, the conductor Mr. Tridden comes by and offers them an unusual free ride.
When he refuses to take their money, they know something's up. And indeed it is: This is the last day before the trolley gets replaced by a newfangled bus.
Doug, of course, is always there when you need a guy to bemoan a loss. First the Green Machine goes into the garage for good, then he notices the wear on his new sneakers, and now this? It's not a good day for our pal Doug.
Mr. Tridden takes the boys to Chessman's Park and surprises them with a picnic lunch, because there was a time when adults could do that and parents didn't think it was creepy.
He points out the bandstand in the park, now decayed with age, and tells them about the grand concerts that used to take place there.
Then he pours salt in the wound: Green Town's getting school buses, which will pick the boys up out at their front doors come fall.
Doug bums on the fact that they can never be late for school again with that setup.
Mr. Tridden takes them home that night, and Charlie, in an attempt to lighten the mood, asks Doug if he wants to play kick-the-can after dinner.
"Sure," says Doug. "Kick-the-can." But he doesn't seem too happy about it.