The Taxi Men

There are certain memories that never leave your mind….memories that continue to linger and illuminate. Sometimes these recollections do not always shine a spotlight on the most monumental moments of your life but may, instead, be more of a mismatched amalgam of experiences that have coloured your life. For me, my drive to St. Johns on the Cape Shore Taxi a couple of weeks ago will stay with me for some time.

Okay. First, let’s get the glaring question out of the way. Did she say that she travelled to St. John’s on the taxi? I don’t drive in St. John’s. In fact, I haven’t driven in town in about ten years. It makes me nervous so…. one foggy evening on my way home from town, I decided that I simply would limit my driving to places other than our capital city. Between Chris’ kindness and patience and Mr. Wayne Foley, I’m all set. When anyone questions why a relatively young person like myself won’t engage in such a common place practice like driving in St. Johns, I respond by saying (gently and only in my mind!) that I can navigate subway systems all over the world, identify wildflowers, speak in front of large crowds, write a poem and bake a chocolate cake from scratch.

So back to my taxi dive. Taxis have really been an integral part of my life since the very beginning. As a four day old child, the kind and jovial Mr. Philip Roche transported me from my birth place of Placentia to my home. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mr. Philip for taking me on my first of many Cape Shore drives, bringing me safely home to my beloved Branch.

As a child, I was blessed many times to travel with Mr. Ronnie Nash on his taxi to St. John’s. My very first trip to town stands out as clearly as yesterday. Poppy and I made the journey together. The very gentle Mr. Ronnie drove through Placentia so we could pick up Mr. Anthony Coffey on the way. We steadily made our way along the highway and approached the city via the downtown arterial. I can still feel that thrilling sense of wonderment as I looked to the right to that see the harbour filled with massive boats. We were dropped off downtown at Woolworth’s where I saw an escalator for the first time. I remember my young eyes being drawn to the brightly hued desserts in the domed glass case. I can still see the two of us sitting down to enjoy jello with whipped cream on top.

Then came the university years. Thankfully, by that time, I was happily tangled up with Chris who drove the long haul from Bonavista almost every weekend to pick me up and bring me home. There were times, though, when I did have to take the taxi and those were the days of Mr. Richard Careen. He’d pick me up on campus and inevitably, Tony (Power) would be in the front seat. From Burtons Pond to the Gut, I was happily regaled by Richard and Tony with story upon story of fairies and fishing, of garden parties and garden beds. There was sometimes a bit of scandal thrown in, including more than one mention of the Shamrock!

And so we have arrived in 2017. The days of infanthood, childhood and student life have passed for me and sadly, Mr. Philip Roche, Mr. Ronnie Nash and Mr. Richard Careen have passed away. I know that Mr. Geret Careen from Point Lance joined the ranks of these fine taxi men but unfortunately, I didn’t have the privilege of driving with him. I’m sure he had some lively stories to tell, too!

Happily, the taxi service continues in our area and has been reenergized by Wayne Foley (pictured above in Branch country) of St. Bride’s. Wayne offers a dependable and vibrant service from our rural communities almost daily to St. John’s. A drive to St. John’s with Wayne is like hopping on one of those snazzy, small and safe European trains full of interesting and spirted people, all with a story to share.

When I had the privilege of driving into town with Wayne last week, I was joined by the fascinating and well-informed Philomena Roche from St. Bride’s and a lovely lady from North Harbour, on whose shoulder I handy fell asleep on Salmonier Line! From Branch to St. John’s, we vigorously covered every topic from the merits of BBC news to the economic climate of Newfoundland to the Queen of England. The last topic we landed on, as we drove along Pitts Memorial Drive, was how to properly make a bologny stew. I arrived at my meeting as refreshed as if I had been at a spa retreat in the south of France.

If you ever fancy a relaxed day in town without having to face the hustle and bustle of traffic, call Wayne. Imagine getting dropped off on Water Street, making your way to the Rocket for a nice cup of hot tea and a delicious bun, lingering over your cup and watching the world go by. You could make your way to the little shops, stopping when a pair of sparkly earrings or a stocking cap catches your eye. Then you jump back on the taxi with Wayne, ready to immerse yourself in a conversation as intriguing as your day has been. A drive on the taxi will not only transport you to St. John’s but will also transport you to an era when we treasured the collective joy that can only be known when we gather together, even on taxis!

Speaking of collective joy, I have to end this post tonight in remembrance of a thoughtful, pleasant and knowledgeable teacher, Mr. Melvin Critch. As an educator for many years at Fatima, Mr. Critch enriched the lives of hundreds of students. I remember his reasonable and reflective approach to teaching world geography, his quiet nature. Teachers like Mr. Critch nurtured creativity. We are blessed to have known him. Rest in Peace.

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