Richard Bostwick Reminiscences
Cab Driving Stories
Fourth Down And Ten
Both the University and our local State Agriculture College always fielded pretty good football teams. This season was no exception. So far this year both teams had enjoyed unbeaten records and everyone was looking forward to the upcoming game between the “Aggies” and the “Sioux.” The rivalry between these two schools was extremely intense. Each year, their game was played in alternating hometowns. This year the game was to be played in our town.
The two schools were some 90 miles apart. It was a common practice for the visiting team to be accompanied by a huge group of fans and well wishers. Such was the case on this beautiful sun-drenched Indian summer day in late October. The town was overflowing with visitors-boosters of both teams were everywhere. Everyone was in a gala mood. Wagers were being placed on the outcome of the game.
It proved to be a very exciting and hard-fought game. But it was a disappointing one for the local team, as the final score was 10-7 in favor of the visitors. Due to their game winning score, a large majority of fans from the visiting team stayed over for an evening of celebration. Among these jubilant fans was a party of three couples who had driven down from the university. They decided like many others to go out on the town.
That evening, this party drove out to a small village some 5 miles east of our town, which was known for having several dance halls in the area. Unbeknown to them, however, this small village was policed by a very egotistical, staunch supporter of the home team. This one-man police force, the Constable, and I were old acquaintances. We worked for the same firm several years before. Even then, like now, we were not on the best of terms. He had always been quite over-bearing and somewhat of a bully, although he had never bothered me. I know we both felt a certain amount of dislike for each other.
This Constable no doubt had lost quite a bundle on his favorite team and therefore was in a hostile and unfriendly mood toward the overflow crowd of visitors to the Silver Slipper. The Silver Slipper was a dance hall that the majority of the visitors selected on this particular evening.
After having just delivered a load of passengers to this dance hall, I was in hopes of eliminating any dead mileage (driving back to town empty), so I pulled my cab over to one side and waited, hoping to pick up a return fare back to town. Just then, the car containing the three couples I previously mentioned pulled up and drove into one of the stalls. The Constable happened to be there at the time. He seemed to resent the presence of the boisterous fans of the winning team as they alighted from their car. He immediately stepped over and took the arm of the young man who had been driving and asked him if he had been drinking. The young man answered by asking a question of his own, “Hasn't everyone?”
A little argument followed which resulted in the Constable placing the man under arrest and putting him in the patrol car. Before being placed in the car, the driver turned to one of his companions and said, “Jim-here are the keys to my car. If I should have to stay in jail overnight, you drive the gang back home.” At that point the Constable reached out, grabbed the keys and said, “No you don't. This car is to be impounded.” Seeing as how the car did not contain any contraband, I could not see how he justified impounding it. He then drove off with his prisoner. The village, not having a jailhouse of its own, imprisoned all of its offenders in the neighboring town's jail.
While all of this was taking place, I had stood to one side and had witnessed the entire affair. The five that remained-the prisoner's wife and two other couples (all about 25-30 years old) were left stranded with no means of getting home. So me, with my big mouth and true to my reputation of getting involved in matters which were none of my concern, I stepped over and asked the fellow whom the driver had addressed as Jim if I could be of any assistance. After all, I was in the transportation business.
Jim told me he didn't know what they were going to do as they did not have the funds to stay overnight, nor did they have the fare to ride the bus back home. It did not seem fair to me that the Constable had refused to allow his prisoner to give the car keys to his friend Jim. I then said, “Come on, I'll drive you back to town. I know the desk sergeant pretty well; maybe I can get the keys from him.
When we arrived at the police station in town, one of the fellows went in with me. I explained to the sergeant exactly what had taken place and asked him if the Constable had left the keys with him. He replied, “Yes, he did, and I can't see what the harm there would be to let the prisoner's friend have them. But I cannot release them without the Constable's consent.” The sergeant also told me that the only one besides the Constable who could release the keys was the county attorney.
Now, it was a long shot, it being a little after 10:30 p.m. But by this time, I was determined not only to help these people out of a very difficult situation, but it was also sort of a personal affair of my own. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to outwit my old adversary. So I drove over to the county attorney's residence.
Now in a large metropolitan area it would have been almost impossible to invade the privacy of the county attorney at such a late hour. But this being somewhat of a small farming community, the county attorney was as accessible as any other local resident was. We were lucky to find him at home. He came to the door, pipe in hand, and invited myself and all of my party in. I explained the situation to him as I had to the desk sergeant. He asked Jim a lot of questions, then he phoned the police station and authorized the desk sergeant to release the keys to Jim.
We then drove back to the police station and Jim was given the keys to his friend's car. As the sergeant was handing the keys to Jim, in walked the Constable. Believe me, he sure showed his resentment at having been over-ruled by the county attorney.
We then proceeded out to the Silver Slipper. The Constable followed close behind us. When we entered the small village in which the Constable had jurisdiction, I made sure to keep within the posted antiquated speed limit of 15 miles per hour. I also advised Jim and his party not to get involved in any argument with the Constable, which might give him an excuse to bring any charges against them.
I parked the cab along side of their car. The Constable came right over and requested the names and addresses of each and every one of them in the party. This I know was just another show of his authority. They all obliged him. Jim then turned to me and handed me a five-dollar bill. This was a little short of what my time had been worth, but my personal satisfaction more than made up for the difference. The party then loaded up and took off for home.
The next morning, the Constable failed to appear in court against Jim, so all charges were dismissed against him and he was released.
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