Old Rock Island
Goodsell and Jack Kerwin, who also owned a GM dealership, where the town hall is now, across from Dr. Bouchard’s house. In the taxi stand was a pinball machine and a dartboard. In the back were two double bunks. The top bunks were usually loaded with fiddles and guitars. There was a student from South Carolina, I think his last name was Viner. He used to come in every Saturday afternoon, when the students from Stanstead College were let out. He would come into the taxi stand and join the jam session. The last that I heard of him he owned a recording studio in California. Across the street at the Del Monty Hotel worked a night clerk who used to come to the stand and listen to us quite often, his name was Wally Primeau. One night when I was working he came into the taxi stand, picked up a guitar and started to play. I have never known a man who as much about a guitar as he did. He taught me how to play ‘sweet Georgia brown’ just using chord progression. He worked one winter at the hotel and then he was gone. Where he came from, I never knew.
We had a two-way radio in the taxi stand. A base-set in the stand, and each car had a mobile set. There was a 50-foot antenna on the A&P building. At the time when I was driving there, you could go from West park in Rock Island to the center of town for 35cents. Rock Island to Stanstead was 50 cents, Rock Island to Beebe was 75 cents, Rock Island to Ayer’s Cliff $2.00, to Sherbrooke was $7.00 and to Montreal $25.00. At the time, we were paying 32 cents/gallon for gas at Parker’s Garage in Derby Line.
One day I got a call from one of the Parker brother to pick him up in Sherbrooke, because his car had broken down. He got into the taxi and said: wait a minute I have to get something out of the car. He unlocked his car, reached under the front seat, pulled out a pistol, and put it on her person. I asked him if it was loaded. He replied: it is no good if it is empty. I was glad to get him back to Derby Line.
If someone wanted to hire a taxi to go long distance, we always got our fee before we left. I recall one particular time, I had to take a cattle dealer from Northern Vermont to Montreal to see an old girlfriend. He was drinking quite heavy on the way in. I took him to an apartment on Jeanne-Mance Street. I parked across the street, as it was a one way street. Knowing him, something was going to happen, before long the cops arrived. They put him in the paddy wagon. I said to myself I might as well go home, because he is not coming home with me tonight. I picked him up 3 days later at the bus terminal in Magog. The only thing he said to me was, those cops in Montreal are big and tough.
I have to mention now one lady in particular. Her name was Particia. Everybody called her Patty. One morning I was leaning against the taxi, enjoying the sunshine and she was walking across the street and I said ‘WOW’. There was a fad starting, the girls were cutting off their jeans very short. I could not keep my eyes off those beautiful legs. She walked slowly down the street, crossing Notre-Dame-Boulevard. A car came down the hill and stopped at the red light, another car was behind him, watching her also. He did not notice the car in the front and drove right into the rear end. It was a hell of a bang. Patty did not change her stride. The driver of the second car, instead of getting out and talking to the driver of the car he had just hit, stepped out of the car and said to Patty: Why don’t you just put some clothes on?
I have always played music, with various musicians up till 1900. I have worked at many things, like paint contractors, construction, hauling gravel, and other various jobs. While going to school I worked as an usher at the New Border Theatre, six nights a week. I think I knew every word to the movie ‘Gone with the wind’ and ‘The Robe. They both ran for a week in the theatre. My pay was $1.00 per night.
to be continued
Left to right : Junior Smith, Clarence Morse, Stanley Yetter (‘50 or ‘51)