Richard Bostwick Reminiscences
Cab Driving Stories
After viewing the Institute for Regional Studies' exhibition Fargo, North Dakota, Its History and Images, Nancy Glen of Washington State contacted the Institute staff in 2005. She wrote, “My grandparents came from ND in the mid-forties. My grandpa took the train out to Tacoma, WA to find work in the shipyards. He brought his wife Clara and nine children with him. My grandpa Bostwick kept a journal while he drove cab in the 30s in Fargo. I thought you might be interested. I am including them as an attachment. If you happen to use them, please let us know. Our big extended family would be so very proud. I plan to visit [Fargo] some day; my uncle said their home is still there.”
In addition to preserving a paper copy of Mr. Bostwick's reminiscence in the Institute archives, the staff felt his perceptive writings should be shared with a larger audience. With the full permission of the Bostwick family, together with the addition of a number of family photographs also provided by Ms. Glen, the Institute has mounted Richard Bostwick's reminiscences in their entirety.
The following introduction to the original reminiscence, written by granddaughter Angie Weber-Morris, provides more historical context on how Richard Bostwick's original journal writings came to be shared within the Bostwick family.
As the holidays approached this year, I tried to think of some small gift I could give to my brothers and sister for Christmas. Even though we decided not to exchange gifts among the adults in the family, I am a kid at heart when it comes to Christmas and still wanted to do something for each of them just to let them know that I appreciate the fact that we are a family and that I love them.
Not wanting to spend much money, I chose to make something for them. But what? I am not crafty by any means. And I did not really have the time to spend hours baking just before Christmas. Then one day I was paying bills at my desk at home, and I looked into a side drawer for an address label, and I saw the old brown folder that contained Grandpa's stories in it. That's right, I have had Grandpa's original hand-written stories for awhile now. I got curious about these stories about 3 years ago, so I asked my Mom who had them, and she said that Uncle Dick did. So she called Dick and arranged for me to pick them up. I have had them ever since.
I paused for a minute and thought of my dear Grandpa. How I miss him sometimes-even some 16 years after he passed away. He and Grandma both were (I believe) the two best people God put on this earth. The memories I have of these two people are held deep in my heart and are some of the best memories that I have. The times I spent up at their house as a kid were simply the best, as I'm sure most of you would agree.
I have read most of the stories in that folder-stories of Grandpa as an intake coordinator for the relief office, as a taxi cab driver, and even stories about how he came to settle in Tacoma . I never did get around to reading them all. “Someday I would” I told myself. Someday I will take one whole day and read them all. I would read them all and just think about who Richard and Clara Bostwick were. They were my grandparents and I loved them.
That night after paying the bills at home, I was in bed and almost asleep, when I had an idea. I thought it was such a good idea that I sat up in bed and woke up my husband to tell him about it. I was going to type all of Grandpa's stories up on the computer at work. Then I would make 4 copies-one for Ron, Cathy, Rob, and Tim-and I would put them in a book and give my brothers and sister the gift of our Grandfather's words. Yes, that was it. It was something inexpensive, but from the heart and keeping with a family theme.
So the very next day I put that musty smelling brown folder containing those yellowed hand-written pages of Grandpa's journal in a grocery sack and toted it to work. And every day for two months on my ½ hour lunch, I would type. I would type and type and type. I only set out to make a nice gift for my family. I got so much more than I ever thought…
Everyday I would eat my lunch as I worked, so that I could spend the full 30 minutes typing the stories out. I would find myself looking forward to it each day, never reading ahead when I could not finish a story in one sitting. Sometimes the suspense would drive me crazy. Sometimes I would laugh, sometimes I would get teary eyed, and sometimes I would say out loud, “Grandpa!” at some of the things he wrote about doing.
Reading these stories each day gave me a sense of getting to know Grandpa all over again. There are so many things that now made sense, so much I did not know before. For example, I did not know that he briefly worked for the Department of Agriculture. I also did not know that he saved a little old couple's life one cold night in the winter when they had no food or heat. They did not want his help, but he forced it on them. Hmm, typical Grandpa. He also made some enemies. Surprised? I was, a little. After reading about these ‘enemies' though, I was not surprised at all. Reading about his various jobs and people in his life really let me know where he came from and what his life had been about in those days. And, in reading the last known words he had written on October 10, 1985, I sat and cried at my desk at work, realizing how selfless he really was and what he must have gone through in his last days.
As I neared the end of these great stories, I wished they would go on forever. I then decided that I should not only share them with my brothers and sister, but that I wanted to share them with everyone in the whole Bostwick clan. Everyone who knew and loved Grandpa should get the privilege of reading these wonderful stories-a looking glass into the past, a history lesson for all about a time in our country that was hard, harder than any of us today could possibly imagine. I plan on letting my children read them one day when they are old enough (some of the stories are of a mature matter-I guess it went with the territory). This is better than any history book when it comes to Prohibition and the Depression. These pages are at times a history lesson, a love story, a comedy, a tragedy.
So please, take this and read them, share them, enjoy them. If you've already read them then read them again. Pass them on to anyone you can think of that would enjoy them. I set out to give a gift but actually got one myself-the gift of knowing that Grandpa is still with me, and that if I can just remember that when I need comfort, I have truly been blessed. - Angie Weber-Morris, November 20, 2001.
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