While taking my evening stroll recently I happened to notice a gentleman approach two taxi cab drivers and heard him say "how much would you hackies charge to drive me from here (Ottawa) to Montreal?" Hearing him use the word "hackie" caused me to reflect back over fifty-five years ago when I last heard that term used and it brought to mind Lindsay's four regular taxi drivers who were Charlie Lamb, Grant Keown, Jack Wells and Mary Burton.
These people would meet every passenger train that arrived at the CNR Station on Durham St., the CPR Station on Caroline St. as well as every bus at the Lindsay Bus Terminal. One would heard the familiar calls "Taxi; Taxi; Taxi over here sir; Taxi ma'am" and when a customer would choose the driver of their choice they knew that the cab door would be opened for them in addition to their luggage being carried and placed in the car trunk by the "hackie."
The fare in those days was twenty-five cents from point "A" to point "B" within the town limits and again, when you arrived at your destination the driver would open the door for you, go back to the trunk, take out your luggage and carry it to your door, or if you were staying at the Hotel Benson it was carried in to the front desk where the clerk (usually "Chuck" McCarty or Frank McInnis) would take over from there.
I vividly recall the four stands that stood about four feet high with a heavy steel base and a round circular sign at the top which read "Reserved for Taxis". These signs were in place in front of the Hotel Benson and it was from here that these drivers usually worked from. If a phone call came to the home of Grant Keown, for example, Mrs. Keown would place a call to the front desk at the hotel, ask for Grant and if he wasn't there, would leave a message for him to pick up a fare at a given address. If the driver was going to be away for a while with another customer then the desk clerk would relay the call to another "hackie". The desk clerks were always fair with these people and tried to give each one an equal number of calls.
I don't know what the situation is like in Lindsay to-day but in Ottawa if you want the driver to put your luggage in the trunk he charges you an extra fifty cents and if you expect him to carry it inside your home or station that's extra too and if that isn't enough for you he also has his hand out for a "tip"!
Other things that are missing to-day that were common in the old days are taking an elderly customer by the arm to the door, a big smile and a "thank you!"