Richard Bostwick Reminiscences
Cab Driving Stories
The following stories were hard to piece together. Some pages were missing, some stopped mid sentence, and some were duplicates of other stories. I am not sure that they are in chronological order, I pieced them together as best as I could.
During the highlight of the depression, I believe the year was 1930, we were living in Fargo in the district that was known as McGee's addition. It was on the extreme west side of Fargo and consisted of small one and two bedroom houses-none of which contained running water or indoor plumbing. We were about as poor as anyone could be. I was unemployed and we were living on welfare.
Clara's mother and father were living with us, or perhaps we were living with them. Clara & I had at that time 4 children. There was Richard, Tom, Bill and Renee. We all lived together as well as my stepsister Gene. I had another stepsister named Blossom-her and Gene were twins. They had been born to my mother by her 1st husband whose name was English. He had been the captain of a sea-going tug that sank with all hands during a rescue mission.
One day a car pulled up in the driveway. It was a touring car and was loaded down with all of his worldly possessions, including Brownie, his little pet bulldog. It was my father, whom I had not seen in quite sometime. When he had left Fargo, he went to Minneapolis and acquired a team of horses and a dump wagon. It was not to long until he acquired several other teams of horses, as well as a collection of wagons. He was going to Minneapolis where he claimed there was more work to be had. He had gotten a job with the city extending several streets beyond Minnehaha Creek. There were several other owners of teams employed on this project, and Dad made arrangements to obtain another team and dump wagon. He told me to come out and drive this other rig for him.
So Clara and I went to Minneapolis, leaving our first born with Clara's folks. I quit the labor job I had and the next day Clara and I started walking out to the south Minneapolis job. It was a beautiful spring morning as we walked along the street, window shopping on our way. When we would get tired, we would just sit down on a doorstep or curbing and take a rest. We were, as I think back, just a couple of kids joking and kidding with each other as we went along.
We finally arrived at my father's camp, which was next to the job site. Dad knew we were coming, and had rented us a small cottage which was nestled in an oak forest and only a stone's throw from Minnehaha Creek. This cottage was all furnished except for bedding. This did not daunt us any, for it was summer time. We were young and in love, so that first night for the want of covers, we slept between two lightweight mattresses. Later my dad moved in with us and Clara kept house and did all the cooking for the three of us. I believe it was the happiest days my dad had known since my mother died.
We worked all summer and late into the fall cutting through the forest to extend the streets. After the job had shut down, my dad and I cut up the trees we had removed from the right-of-way and sold them for firewood. We had a lot of snow that year. One evening as Clara, my dad, and I were sitting around the front room with no radio or television, we became very bored. On the spur of the moment I asked Clara, “How would you like to go for a sleigh ride?” She said, “Why not?” So I went out to the big tent that we used for a barn and hitched up one of dad's lighter teams on to a flat bed sleigh. The horses were all decked out in sleigh bells. Clara and I went for a moonlit sleigh ride all the way around Lake Nakomis, which was only a short ways from our cottage. We were all bundled up in blankets as the horses with their sleigh bells jingling trotted through the snow. It was a very enjoyable moonlit ride.
Clara became a very accomplished cook, and my dad sure enjoyed her oatmeal cookies, banana cakes, pies and doughnuts. But her crowning glory was her creation of our very first Thanksgiving dinner. My dad brought home a large young tom turkey. Clara had never cooked a turkey before, and this one being so big that she had to roast it in the dishpan. It turned out to be very tender and delicious-the best turkey I have ever eaten. This turkey, along with a wide variety of pumpkin pie, yams, salad, mashed potatoes, delicious gravy, dressing and all the other goodies, constituted our Thanksgiving dinner.
Well, they say all good things must come to an end, and it was soon after that that Clara received word that her mother was having eye trouble and asked her to come home, which she did. I stayed on in Minneapolis for a short time and then I too left for Fargo. My dad hated to see us go, but the work was over. I needed to leave not only because I wanted to be with my wife, but I felt I would have a better chance of getting work in Fargo where I was better known.
I scouted around and soon went to work hauling coal for a local fuel dealer. The work was very hard. I was expected to haul two 2-ton loads in the forenoon and the same in the afternoon. This meant 2 tons shoveled on and 2 tons shoveled off on each trip. Tennessee Ernie Ford's famous song, “Sixteen Tons” always reminds me of those days.
I kept looking around for some job that was a little less strenuous, and soon found employment with a local creamery company as a handy man for $20.00 a week. I also got a job as a janitor for a brand new 10-unit apartment house, for which I received $25.00 per month. I also was given a one-room kitchenette and bath apartment. Clara and I were now getting along just fine. I was working at the creamery during the days and doing the janitor work during the evening.
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