Richard Bostwick Reminiscences

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Welfare Office Stories
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Cab Driving Stories
The Way It Was - 1930
The Gambler And His Gal 1927
The Last One To Know 1926
Just A Couple Of Hustlers 1925
Cash On Delivery 1923
One Born Every Minute 1923
Fun Is Where You Find It 1923
An Ace In The Hole 1922
And A Little Child Shall…
Gold Tooth Murphy
Aiding And Abetting 1929
Buried Treasure 1927
The Good Samaritan
Just A Country Trip
The Prodigal Son
Occupational Hazard
Four Bags Full
Overtime Pay
Above And Beyond The Call
Fourth Down And Ten
Let There Be Light
Take It Or Leave It
Double Or Nothing
The Champ
Three Of A Kind
My Silent Big Spender
N.P.R.R. (Northern Pacific Railroad) Mr. Moody


Prohibition Stories
A Little Competition
Some Did Burn
Last Words


Let There Be Light

Like all other persons who come into contact with the general public in the course of their employment, cab drivers draw both insults and criticism, as well as thanks and appreciation from some of their customers. A good example is that which took place one night as I was driving the late shift. I was dispatched to an address which proved to be a large residence on the south side of town.

It was just after midnight and it appeared that a party was just breaking up. It must have been a big affair as there were several other cabs standing by waiting for their fares and several private cars were pulling away as I arrived. From a group on the front walk, a man and woman came over to me and informed me that they were the ones who had called my cab. They seemed to be in their mid-thirties and very well dressed.

As I loaded them into my cab, the lady said she wished to go to the Gardner Hotel, and the man said he was stopping at the Fort Hotel. Both of these hostelries were among the better ones in town at that time. I pulled out of the driveway and proceeded only a few blocks when the woman complained to me that the small meter light was reflecting in her face, and asked if I would please turn it out.

Gardner Hotel, 1920s (2001.66.22)

The meter, which registered the amount of cab fare owed, was located in the forward part of the cab and faced toward the passengers. In front of the meter and directly above its face was this small light bulb that was protected by a metal shield. This cab had a very complete system of switches to control its various lights. There was a separate switch for each of the following: headlights, dash light, outside step-light, inside dome light and parking lights. But there was no separate switch to turn off the meter light. In order to turn it off, I would have had to turn off the master light switch, which turned off all of the lights, including the headlights.

I told the lady I was sorry, but that I could not turn off the meter light without turning off my headlights. She then said, “I can!” and with that she leaned way forward and broke the small bulb by inserting a fingernail file (or some other similar object) between the bulb and its metal shield. I of course did not like that and I told her she should not have done that. She then gave me a tongue lashing with some very choice language. From there on I paid no attention to her outburst but I hurried her to her destination. In the mean time her companion just sat quietly by, not getting involved.

I pulled up in front of the Gardner Hotel, got out and opened the door for her. After bidding her companion a very warm goodnight, she got out, stood there for a moment glaring at me, then said, “I look down on you cab drivers the same way as we look down on niggers down south.” Now I had been insulted before by drunken or irate passengers and, besides the fact it was not proper to punch a female, I just considered the source. I closed the cab door and proceeded to drive my remaining passenger to his hotel.

I pulled up in front of the Fort Hotel. As he got out of my cab the passenger asked me what the fare was. The meter read .85 cents, so I said, “Cab fare-.85 cents. Light bulb-$5.00.” Without a word he handed me $6.00 and went on into the hotel. Maybe it wasn't fair to charge him for the light bulb-he hadn't broken it. But it may have some affect on her. He may think twice before taking her for another cab ride.

Of course, the $5.00 was mine! Wasn't I the one who had been insulted? Besides, it kind of helped to restore the image of us cabbies.


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Updated: 7/30/2007