Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 52 > Back Cover - Charlie MacDonald, Taxicab Driver

Back Cover - Charlie MacDonald, Taxicab Driver

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/8/1 (129 reads)

Charlie MacDonald, Taxicab Driver • From 58 Years Behind the Wheel • Visiting with Charlie MacDonald is like riding in the back seat of his cab as he takes you around his world. He is a good storyteller. What we offer here is not a quarter of what he told us, and probably not a tenth of the stories he has to tell. We offer this article in cele bration of nearly 60 years of Char? lie's service to his community. When we talked to Charlie, he had re? cently retired and was spending the winter watching the traffic on the Esplanade and the ice on Sydney Har? bour. He told us he used to take pas? sengers to North Sydney on the ice. Charlie MacDonald: And anybody want? ed to go to North Sydney (from Syd? ney) after 5 o'clock in the evening, he'd have to take (a cab), walk over on the ice, or not go at all. If the ice wasn't good enough for a cab, he'd try to walk it. And then if it was good enough, you'd drive over to Ingraham's wharf in North Sydney and let him off there, and he'd walk up? town. A lot of gamblers then; there were a lot of trips in the night over there. (Gamblers?) Gamblers! There was a lot of gambling in Sydney, Glace Bay, and North Sydney and Sydney Mines. Cripes Almighty! One man, they burned him--because he won $68,000--they burnt down a hotel to steal the money off him. (And they'd want to go home after gambling.) Yeah. "Be back for us, Charlie, at 4 o'clock." They were from Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Hal? ifax, Saint John. Stay at the (Isle Roy? ale) hotel. Well, that's where I was driv? ing. "Charlie, be back for us at 4 o'clock...." (Were cabs the only ones who would dare go across on the ice?) Oh, no. Other guys that were gambling, and going over with women, and taking, women back--they weren't used to it. I don't want to go into that because.... (There was an accident. I can tell from the way you're talking. Charlie holds up 4 fingers. Four people.) In the Frog Pond. Instead of coming up the har? bour, they went in the Frog Pond. Frog Pond was open the year round. (What's the Frog Pond?) You hear them talking about it--the Tar Pond. (I heard recently about a person who drowned at the Tar Pond.) Yeah, I remember that. They didn't get him till spring. They couldn't. They had to bring a machine over from the steel plant. There was none in the city then, you know, those big cranes. And they brought it over, and fixed it up with slag. And she got out so far--that was 40 feet deep, tar and water --and hot! Then she dug down until she got the car. Well, she lifted the car and took him ashore. But he--nothing but bones-- everything all--it was so hot. (Yes, that's the stuff that was coming from the steel plant.) Hot as the devil! Steaming, when they'd dump it in the brook. (So no wonder the Frog Pond, as you call it, would not freeze over the way the har? bour....) Oh, no, no, no. CHARLIE MacDONALD CONTINUES ON PAGE 73
Cape Breton's Magazine
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