Richard Bostwick Reminiscences
Cab Driving Stories
One morning about 2:00 a.m. the dispatcher sent me to a roadhouse which was about 5 miles outside of town. This place was fairly new, even though it had not been open very long it was already drawing some pretty good crowds. When I pulled up to the front entrance, the place was just getting ready to close for the night. I got out of my cab to locate my fare when a young, good-looking girl came out and informed me that she was the one who had called my cab.
I put her in the back seat, and as I closed the door, a fellow came out and asked me if he, too, could have a ride into town. I told him that the young lady in the backseat already hired my cab, and it was up to her if she cared to share the cab with him. After getting consent, he climbed in beside her.
I was just pulling away when two fellows came running over and they, too, wanted a ride to town. The place by this time was closed. The lights in the parking lot area were being turned out and everyone had left except my two passengers and these other two fellows.
Again, the lady agreed to share the cab. One of these fellows got in the back seat and the other got in front with me. As we were nearing town, I heard the girl tell one of her fellow passengers to behave and keep his hands to himself. We did not have much further to go, and as I did not hear any further complaint from the lady, I proceeded on my way.
It so happened that all three of my male passengers were stopping at the Graver Hotel, which was one of the better hotels in town at that time. I pulled up at the side entrance of the hotel on Roberts Street and the two men who were together got out. The paid me their fare and went into the lobby. I stood by the open door of my cab waiting for the single fellow to get out, but he was busy trying to talk the young girl into coming up to his room for a night cap.
He was not that good of a salesman, for the girl would have no part of him. As they continued to argue (at least he did), I closed the cab door, went to my seat and was waiting for him to make up his mind. Finally he said, “Take us for a little ride.” Seeing as the girl did not object, I proceeded down the street toward the residential section of town.
I had traveled only a couple of blocks when the girl cried out, “Driver! Driver! Help me!” I immediately pulled over to the curb and told the fellow to get out. He then apologized and, saying he was sorry and would I please take him back to the hotel. I turned around and drove him back.
I double-parked, got out and went around my cab to open the door for him-not that he deserved the courtesy, it was just habit on my part. By the time I got around the cab, this fellow had already gotten out and was on his way to the hotel entrance. I called for him to wait up for a minute. He stopped, and as I approached him he asked me what I wanted. I told me he owed me a cab fare. He replied, “Okay,” then without any warning, he hit me flush on the jaw.
Down I went, but not all the way. As I sat there on my haunches I was more surprised than hurt. The hotel clerk and my two former passengers were looking on from the window of the lobby. As I started to rise up, he swung a vicious roundhouse punch, which I was expecting.
I smashed him square on the mouth. He went reeling back against the cars parked along the curb and in doing so, cut the lobe of his right ear on one of the cars. Then he went down on all fours. In the same position he scrambled across the sidewalk and upon gaining entrance to the hotel lobby, he got up on his feet and ran for the elevator at the far end of the lobby.
I was boiling mad and right on his heels. The elevator boy saw us coming and scurried out of the elevator. I grabbed my ex-passenger and had him pinned up against the wall of the cage demanding he pay me the cab fare he owed. Just then, someone tapped me on the shoulder and a familiar voice said, “That's enough, Dick.” I looked around and saw a policeman I knew by the name of Rob Janson.
Right away this fellow started babbling about my attack on him being absolutely unprovoked, so Rob said I had better come along also. Rob put us both in the patrol car and drove us down to the police station, which was only a block down the street. We came before the night desk sergeant and by this time the young fellow was sure a mess. He was wearing a light tan Palm Beach suit and a white broadcloth shirt. His mouth was bleeding and his cut ear lobe was dripping blood all down the front of him and onto his shoulder.
The desk sergeant asked him if he had been drinking. His answer was, “It's none of your damn business!” The sergeant replied, “Lock him up”, which the bailiff promptly did. At this time, the two fellows who had been my passengers came into the police station and told the desk sergeant exactly how the whole affair happened. The desk sergeant then told me if I wanted to collect my cab fare the best way would be to prefer charges against this fellow for assault and battery. Then I could go appear in Municipal Court against him in the morning and offer to drop the charges providing he pay me the cab fare owed.
This is what I did.
As there were no charges against me, thanks to my two former passengers, I headed back to the Grover Hotel to retrieve my cab. It was still there, double-parked and empty. The young lady had fled the scene, I did not blame her for that. I called in to my dispatcher and reported what had happened. I then went on to finish my shift. After checking in my nights receipts that morning, I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed for the Municipal Court which was located upstairs in City Hall.
I had only a short time to wait until Judge Leonard rapped the court to order. Those who had been arrested within the past 24 hours were herded into the courtroom from the bullpen where they had spent the night. Among the usual number of drunks and other petty offenders was my pugilistic passenger of the previous night. If he looked a mess before, you should have seen him the next morning. He had a stubble of beard on his face, mouth swollen, his right ear was puffed up and his white shirt and tan suit were caked with blood all down the front and shoulder.
His name was finally called. He stepped up before the judge and was read the charges I had preferred against him. He said he wanted to see the Chief of Police before entering a plea. Judge Leonard instructed the bailiff to take the prisoner down the hall to the Chief's office.
During their absence, I was sitting in the back of the courtroom. Charley Anderson, a plain-clothes officer who was a good friend of mine, came over and asked me if I ever planned to take a trip to California. Surprised, I told him, “Not that I know of, why?” He then said, “That's good. But, if you ever do, be sure and stay out of Los Angeles County.”
“Why?” I asked curiously.
He then told me my former passenger was a deputy sheriff from Los Angeles County whose name was Schultz. It seemed Mr. Schultz had arrived in town yesterday afternoon on the N.P.R.R. and was due to leave this morning for a little town on a branch line of the Milwaukee R.R. to pick up a prisoner who was being extradited to California. It seems that to while away the time last evening, he went out on the town and his present predicament was the end result.
The Chief finally appeared and asked me to step into an anti-room, which I did. He then proceeded to bawl me out for beating up on Mr. Schultz without any provocation. The two salesmen who had testified on my behalf the previous night were not present, and it was doubtful that I could locate them, for I had failed to get their names. I told the Chief exactly what had happened the previous night. I told him it all started because I had prevented Mr. Schultz from molesting a young lady in my cab. I also told him that if Mr. Schultz did not want to pay me what he owed me, I would drive out and get this young lady to come down and file charges against him for assault with intent to rape.
The Chief acted surprised and said he did not know that there was a young lady involved, and for me to wait right where I was. The Chief then went back into his office. A few moments later, Mr. Schultz came into the anti-room and asked me if he paid me what he owed me, would I drop the charges against him? To this I said, “Sure”. He then took a piece of paper and drew up a simple release agreement and asked me how much he owed me.
I told him the cab fare and my lost time came to $28.00. He gave me the money; I signed the release and headed for home. I wonder who that young girl was? I had never seen her before or since. I had no idea where she lived and I would not have recognized her again if I had seen her.
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