Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Second Anniversary

Today marks the second anniversary of Bayviews. I've written 250...Well, this will be 251 posts over those two years ranging from Humor to frank opinions.

8005 folks have visited me during that time, with 15,197 page views. I've had a great time doing this. I hope some of you have enjoyed it too.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Not Travelin'

Now that I have crossed all the i's and dotted the T's, I'm ready to take off for the sunny southland...Except...I'm not going after all. (Reminder to S/R and uncancel February delivery)

Several things kind of all came together, I decided I didn't want to leave. First, accommodations at my first stop became iffy. Then my Daughter called, saying she would be out of town. Besides, if I left, where would people get their potato salad fix.

I'm staying here. Home is where the heart is.

I, along with Backwoods Bob, my computer guru, am developing a site that will strictly be about the Captain's Wheel. It will be called, "As The Wheel Turns." We will feature special events and entertainment info along with the special of the day...That sort of thing. It will be fun, and let hungry people know whether tonight is the night for that special treat.

It will be designed to operate from INWBA. I've already lost the URL, but will come up with it soon.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Town With a Complex

I grew up in the shadow of Seattle, Washington. I have lived in other, even larger cities. While I really like at this stage of my life, the laid back environs of Bayview, I can't help wondering about Spokane.

Opening my paper this morning...No actually, I didn't have to open it. One the front page of the Spokesman-Review today was a picture and a headline. Not unusual at all. What I felt was unusual was that it was a picture of two sports reporters from ESPN.

It has long been held that reporters interviewing reporters is not news so much as that is is a form of Journalistic Incest. Above this picture of reporters covering the Ice Skating Championships is a Banner Headline remenicient of the pronouncement of the end of World War 11, saying,"IN THE SPOTLIGHT."

I've always thought that front page headlines are for front page news, not a sporting event. The evidence here points to the Paper, and the City, having a huge Inferiority Complex.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Coming Events

I will be out of town during most of February. Before I go, I would like to acquaint everyone with coming attractions at the Captain's Wheel.

This Saturday, January 27 kicks off our annual Beach Party. In complete denial, we are ignoring that by the calendar, it is still Winter. Live music, tricycle races, beach balls, drink specials, limbo contests...I haven't heard if there will be bikini contests or not.

February 24 will be our Mardi Gras Party. Best costume prizes, drink specials...Loads of fun.

March 12? St. Paddy's Day, what else. The theme will be a Pajama Party. Live Music, Prize for best PJ's.

Come on down Saturday night...Your last chance at Herb's Potato Salad until March.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cab Tales...One More Thought

Aside from the occasional crisis, many fun times were had as well. Most of the great night spots that were around back then are gone now. Sherman's, The Cotton Club, scrubby old Betas, and of course, Chelsea's.

Chelsea's was a bar that booked Blues Bands. Good ones. It also had a well developed drug culture. This wasn't necessarily management's fault, it just king of followed the musical scene.

One night there was a band playing there that went on break. When they lit up in the parking lot, Coeur d'Alene's finest descended upon them. It turns out the smoke was under Idaho statutes, a controlled substance, of which it was unlawful to possess or use. Marijuana. Pot. Acapulco Gold. Stinky Weed.

When the break didn't end, some curious wandered out and discovered the problem. Not accepting defeat, and with the knowledge that the bar was full of underemployed musicians, volunteers jumped on the stage, and finished out the evening.

I visited Coeur d'Alene recently. Well, actually, I was a refugee from the power outage caused by the big wind storm that moved through a while back. I hadn't spent any time in the City much since I moved to Bayview lo these twelve years ago. The only watering hole that was familiar was the Iron Horse.

Downtown Coeur d'Alene had morphed into Yuppie Heaven, with wine and coffee bars lining the streets. I thought it was a flashback to the early Sixties in Malibu. I felt like a foreigner. I fled back to Bayview...My comfort zone...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cab Tales...Stuff

A lot of strange things happened while I drove cab, but it is necessary to point out that these interesting incidents are punctuated by hours upon hours of boredom.

Occasionally though, things got interesting. I think back to the apprehension of the man that stole Shasta's life from her, and how, when I was driving, after the bar crowd had been taken home, I would have been at Denny's that night, and would have immediately dove into the deal.

On another occasion, I was driving the Photographer Son of a prominent Innkeeper late one night. They wanted to visit the cash machine at what was the bank at 3rd or 4th and Sherman. The only problem was that in circling the block to hit the cash machine, I used the alley between Sherman and Mullan.

Exiting an alleyway can be tricky, since if you are tired, and careless, and enter a one way street, you can find yourself going the wrong way. I did, and the City's finest was right on it. Unfortunately, and incidentally, I would like to see this changed, there were no one-way arrows pointing which way was one way, when exiting the alley.

Fortunately, as the aforementioned passenger got out and used the cash machine, the officer warned me and let me go. The Coeur d'Alene Police were pretty good about letting simple stuff slide, as long as the violation wasn't a safety issue. Later, a young Red Head Rookie tagged me twice in the hwy 95 35MPH zone while in an emphasis patrol.

That pretty much ended my cab career as I couldn't afford the insurance rates that the tickets earned me. (The violations were 8 and 9 miles over the limit after 2:30 AM without any conflicting traffic)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Competition Gets Fierce

There were at the time I was cabbing, two companies competing with each other. Sunset Taxi, my company, and Taxi by Hall. Taxi by Hall was owned by the same guy that repairs two way radios, and had our frequency on a portable that somehow fell into the hands of their drivers.

This kind of changed the chemistry, as they used cell phones, knowing that a radio signal can be heard by anyone with the right frequency. I noticed a sharp increase of fares that were no shows, especially if we were running a little behind. After discussing the situation with some of our regulars, we found that shortly after calling us, Taxi by Hall would show up.

Sometimes they would explain that we called them to help out since we were very busy. That never happened. Once, I caught the driver in the act of stealing fares, and took the passenger back.

Finally, I devised a code sheet which named the common stops such as the Resort, Chelseas, Iron Horse,and so forth. On the chart I devised, we had four possible numbers, which changed with a prefix number denoting the column to be used. The drivers had numerical charts, the dispatcher had alphabetical so that they could go right to the proper business name.

From that time on, we never lost another customer through cheating. The moral here, is it's not nice to eavesdrop...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cab Tales...Honesty Pays

Some of the more fun times were with the bartenders around town. We had a policy that if a bartender worked in a bar that used our service, they went to and from work free.

We also had our regular patrons, many of them older folks that didn't drive anymore. One such customer was a sight impaired lady that lived up on Miles in Hayden. Once a month she would take a cab to town and cash her Social Security check. She got to know us by our voices. That will be part of another story.

On an evening after taking this lady to town and returning her home, I had occasion to pick up an off duty bartender from the now defunct Gibbs Tavern, on Northwest Blvd. This lady was kind of drunk. Actually she was knee walking pee in the corner drunk.

I got her to her apartment, and half carried her and her purse in, flopped her on her bed and left. The next day I got a call from our office wondering if I had seen a purse belonging to the blind lady. Bingo. I raced down to Gibbs and asked them if they had an unidentified purse.

They did. I and the bartender, not the same one, opened it and ascertained that one, it did belong to the lady in question, and two, that an envelope containing several hundred dollars was still there. The drunk bartender, waking up and finding a purse that didn't belong to her had without looking in it, brought it back to the bar, figuing she had grabbed someone elses when she left.

I counted the money in front of the duty bartender, then drove it up to her house and returned it. After assuring her all the money was intact, I left.

Three days later, my boss, (Jerry Anderson) handed me $100.00 as a reward. I was uncomfortable about accepting money for just being honest, but he said that the customer insisted on it. So I took half of it down to Gibbs and shared it with the honest bartender. It turns out that there are more honest people out there than many would imagine...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cab Tales...Prisoner

Perhaps the most difficult story to tell is the one I'm about to describe. I saved it to last because it is such an emotional experience, both for me and the victim.

One night, I got a radio call from Texas Bob. He had picked up a woman wandering around scared, beaten and looking for help. Since I was in charge of the shift, I arranged a rendezvous with him to take charge of his passenger.

She was scared and had been badly beaten. The story she told was chilling. Her live in Boyfriend was a Meth addict and perhaps a dealer. He got mad at her, threw her into his truck, drove to Fernan Lake, where he stripped her and threw her into the water naked.

As she managed to wade ashore, he came back. He threw her back into the pickup, raped her, (she called it rough sex) and threatened to kill her. He then took her home, where he barricaded the door to a bedroom, not allowing her access to the rest of the house, or freedom. That imprisonment lasted several days, while he apparently waited for her bruises to disappear.

Somehow she had managed to escape while he was out. It has to be pointed out at this time that she was injured too badly, prior to this for an escape. I called the Women's shelter, but there wasn't space for her there.

Her parents lived in Hayden. I offered to take her there. She started to go for that, until she realized that the guy that did all this to her would head straight there. I took her to my place and left her with a place to sleep.

The next day I called the Coeur d'Alene Police, and had an officer meet us at my home. A criminal complaint was made, and that was the last of the situation that I was aware of. I still wonder what became of her.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cab Tales...And the Police

Quite a bit of interaction occurs between Police Officers and Cab Companies. When they stop and arrest a drunk driver, we are called to transport the passengers, if any.

One evening I was called to a freeway stop on Westbound I-90 between Fourth and Fifteenth Streets. When I got there, the City Police Officer, (a young one) had an elderly lady arrested. It must have been a slow night, because there were six or seven Law Enforcement cars at the scene to back up the apprehension of this 72 year old lady.

Her passenger, was her Husband, an older man needing transportation. He was spitting mad. When I arrived on the scene, I asked a Sheriff Deputy what was going on. He essentially replied, "probably nothing, but it's not my stop."

I hustled the husband into my cab to get him out of there before he got arrested for "Contempt of Cop." Actually, that isn't against the law, but interfering with an arrest is. He explained to me that yes, he had drank quite a few, but his wife had only one glass of wine three hours back.

He then went on to state, that while the officer said he had pulled them over, that they had pulled to the side because it was cold and the window wouldn't roll up. The officer then pulled in behind them. They took this frail lady, securely handcuffed, guarded by at least eight of our finest, to the Grey Bar Hotel.

I explained that when the officers got to the jail they would administer a sobriety test. At that time, she would obviously be released. I felt he was too angry to take directly to the jail, so we went for coffee. I bought. We eventually arrived at the jail, and sure enough, the wife had been released without charge.

Aside from this elderly lady being roughhoused, cuffed and hauled off to jail, the car had been towed, police tows being quite expensive, and it turns out the whole arrest was based on the smell of alcohol in the vehicle. Duh...So much for the designated driver theory...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cab Tales...Suicide

There are many bizarre ways to kill oneself. On this cold Winter
night, I met a man that wanted to commit "suicide by Taxi."

It all started when I made a routine pickup of this guy on North Fourth Street, in Coeur d'Alene. He climbed aboard with a sack holding a jug of Vodka. "Take me to Fernan Saddle," said he. OK...Ive been stranger places, and away we went.

On the way up the mountain, I asked him what he was going to do when he got there. He calmly informed me that he was going to kill himself. I asked him why he would do such a thing. He then told me that he discovered his wife had been cheating on him and he didn't want to live any more.

Further questions revealed that the method he was going to use, was to get out of the cab, sit down in a snow bank, drink the jug of Vodka, and wait to freeze to death.

By this time, my mind was going a mile a minute. How do I stop this. Do I stop the cab, turn around and go back? No... He might jump out, then be impossible to find.
I kept on driving up the mountain and started to talk with him. I used about all the diplomacy I had in trying to get him to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Finally, we reached the summit. I looked at him and said, "I really don't want you to do this. You're a nice guy, and if things don't work out for you, a real nice lady will be out there for you. Why don't you let me take you home...No Charge..."

He then said, "OK." I drove him back to our point of departure, didn't ask for a fare, and wished him well...

I don't know what happened to him after that. I never saw him again. I hope he made out OK...

Cab Tales...And Greyhound

Occasionally, something would go awry at Greyhound and the local agent would enlist our Cabs to bail them out. I recall two incidents, one Summer and one in the dreaded 91-92 Winter.

One Summer evening, I was called to the local depot to carry a passenger to Creston, Washington. When I got there, the passenger, a young man, told me that when he got on the bus in Spokane, with a ticket to Creston, it was the bus to Coeur d'Alene.

It seems that they thought he was going to Creston, B.C. with a connection in Coeur d'Alene. Unfortunately, wrong Creston, and late at night, there are no buses going anywhere out of Coeur d'Alene. I spent most of the night driving to Creston, West of Spokane on highway 2 in the middle of the state and back.

The second incident was much hairier. It was late in the Winter-Spring of 92. The fourth of storms dumping more than two feet of heavy wet snow had finally, and the only time I could remember, caused me to pull both cabs off the road for the night.

Myself and Bob, the Texan, were having coffee at Denny's when we got a call from our dispatcher. Apparently, a Greyhound had broken down in Worley,and had to be rescued.
It was very cold, the roads were a mess, but I had to go anyway. Twelve passengers were stranded without heat on that bus.

The station manager would ferry a small bus to Worley, where I would then bring him back to Coeur d'Alene. The Goat trail was trecherous that night, but by that time after driving all night all Winter long, I became quite good at driving in poor to horrible conditions.

We made it there and back, the folks on the bus went on to Lewiston and all was well.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cab Tales...The Chase

Most nights, (12 hour shifts) are routine. From time to time, that changes. One night, I got called to a bar on Appleway, where an off duty bartender from another business needed a cab.

When I arrived, the situation was a little more complicated than that. A woman that had apparently been abused, was in the bar with her domestic partner, and wanted to escape.

After talking the situation over with me, the off duty bartender arranged for the guy to be blocked from pursuing us while I loaded the woman into the cab. It started out alright, but as we approached the cab, the man dodged the blockers and headed for us.

We got in the cab, locked the doors and left. Shortly thereafter, he followed, trying to stop and capture my passenger, which wasn't going to happen. I got on my radio to ask for police assistance and headed down town. We stayed on the freeway and main arterials so that we didn't need to stop at a light.

After being assured that the police were going to rendevous with us shortly, I headed down to Mullan going East toward the police station. Just in time, I remembered there are never police officers at the station during the night.

Keeping my dispatcher aware of my intended route, I hopped back up to Sherman going East. At I-90 and Sherman I got back on the freeway toward 4th street. I was told to exit at 4th where police would meet me. Got off...Nary a flashing light in sight.

The guy following us almost crashed me at the 4th & Appleway intersection, as I was turning left. Finally, up popped a police car which pulled him over in the parking lot of the Sunset Bar, right where we started from.

Several weeks later, I was transporting a guy whose car had broken down. He started telling me about the chase, and how he got a DUI out of it. He also mentioned that it was one of our cabs that was involved. I grinned, and admitted it was me, and explained that regardless of who was right or wrong, once a passenger gets in our cab, we protect them. He allowed that he had been a damn fool, which I agreed with.

Any other time, all I would have needed to do was exceed the speed limit by 10 MPH and police would have been all over me...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cab Tales 11

The most interesting part of driving cab at night is the life lessons learned. Coming from a suit and tie business background, I had no idea how to handle unruly drunks or worse, drug users.

I learned than size, age, or physical condition had little to do with keeping the upper hand. I went from being scared half to death, to a calm deliberate peace maker. I once remarked that we had about the same job as a police officer, but without the gun or ability to lock up anyone.

Many of my stories will take place during the horror winter of...I think 91-92. I'm terrible about remembering exactly when events took place. While driving cab, I've been invited to participate in drug use, sex, and well, you get the picture.

Lest anyone wonder about what my reaction was, and I was single, I considered myself a professional. A person that an inebriated lady could feel would see her safely home...I did exactly that. Temptations aside, my belief was that if the female in question didn't know me, and wouldn't have extended an invitation while sober, she damn sure wasn't going to be used, while under the influence.

From time to time, I gave free rides. Not often and not to friends. It was always due to a humanitarian situation. I have no confessions, as such because I was proud of my conduct. More to follow tomorrow...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Cab Tales 1

When I arrived back in the Coeur d'Alene area in 1990, I had left the Seattle area with my tail between my legs, severely depressed. I had sunk my net worth into a startup company called Westgate Mortgage Corp. I started this company in the fall of 1986. Interest rates were at a low of 8 3/4% for the first time since 1979. The spring of 1987 saw interest rates surge upward to 10 3/4% in just two weeks.

I was caught with over $5,000,000 in rate reduction refinances in process, losing most of them. After struggling for 2 or 3 years, I sold everything and moved to Dalton Gardens. A homecoming that was 18 years after I had left the first time.

Close to broke, discouraged and probably clinically depressed, I opened a used paperback store called, "Herb's Paperback Exchange." Very little income was derived from that, and I called an old friend of 20 years, Jerry Anderson. I told him I wanted to drive cab for him. Thence this relationship became a two or three year gig, ending with me managing the night crew.

In the next few weeks I'm going to write down some of the more unusual experiences I had while driving for Sunset Taxi. I hope it will prove interesting for you, as I plumb the depth of memories that have somewhat faded.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Sunset Herb

Starting next week, I will do some rememberences from my days as a Coeur d'Alene Cabbie.

Friday, January 05, 2007


The clear difference with our occupation of Germany and Japan after WW2, and our situation in Iraq is simply this...

With our occupation of the two world war two opponents, we knew that all of the people we dealt with were enemy, and while we treated them very well, the focus was they will try to mess with us, and we were on guard.

Iraq is a new and very different situation, insofar as we are trying to win the hearts and minds of these people and trying to establish a democracy. Democratic government, in this part of the world is not part of their culture. Country after country in that area has strong leadership, or downright dictatorships.

It would appear to me that we have a choice. We can either back a strong dictator, or turn the country over to the fanatic imams. If, of course we opt for a strong dictator, it's too late to recall the previous one.

I see a division of the country. To the north, the Kurds are not going to give up their prosperous economy, oil production, or independence.

To the south, Iran will at some time soon, flow over the Shiite area, burying democracy forever. The Center? Saudi Arabia and Syria will fight over the remains.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Bayview Access

Brodh2O, alias Mommy Dearest has been nagging me to tell the story about opening up the Hwy 54 access to Bayview, many years ago.

Actually, most folks in Bayview already know about this, and is was well covered by the Spokesman-Review at the time, but oh well, I'll tell it again. This story resonates with many because it kind of is a David/Goliath story.

Back in the spring of 1995, I moved to Bayview. I knew exactly two people when I got here. I was used to seeing the highway to Bayview coned off by Farragut management, but only on week-ends, when I usually didn't leave town. Prior to that time,many efforts had been made to lift the blockade.

Wednesday, prior to the Fourth Week-end, I pulled up to the kiosk in the center of the divide, behind three motor homes. As they inched forward, visiting with the pretty blond that was greeting at that time, I realized I was late for happy hour at the Wheel. That ticked me off.

When I finally edged up to the lady, I asked, "Is this going to happen all Summer?" She replied that yes, it would. I pointed out to her that it is illegal to block a State Highway. She laughed at me and replied, "not if it goes through a State Park."

Well, having been in the Real Estate and Mortgage business for many years, I had some knowledge of right-of-way law. The next day, I called the State Police, talking to Captain Powell, then Commander at the Hayden Headquarters. I requested that he arrange the arrest and conviction of the parties at the park for this illegal act.

He stammered a bit, then said, "gosh that's a state agency. I'm going to have to get guidance from Boise on this. Put your complaint in writing and I will forward it." I could feel a runaround coming on and asked, "and how long will that take?" He estimated two weeks.

That afternoon, Thursday, I dropped off the written complaint and left to work my way through the roadblock. At my office, around 11:00 AM,the following day, I received a call from Captain Powell. It was a conference call including the regional manager of the Parks Dept. and the Idaho State Transportation Mgr. for North Idaho.

Bottom line, they agreed to remove the cones after I suggested we could live with one lane open for through traffic. Some of you will remember the small black sign that went up Friday afternoon, just in time for the holiday weekend.

One month later, the park abandoned the center kiosk as a safety measure, replacing it with a former outhouse on the headquarters side of the road, where it still stands. I thought that appropriate.

Monday, January 01, 2007

"Sweet Herb"

I didn't make any New Year's resolutions this year, as I didn't last year either.

Amongst the political rants, bitterness, rancor, obsessing, naming and other sins of commission that we see on the internet, comes along "Wondering." In chastising a person she believes fits one or more of these categories, she referred to me as "Sweet Herb."

I am of mixed emotions. One would, of course like to be thought of in positive terms. The downside is that I have alternately profiled myself as a Curmudgeon, a nasty old man with issues, and of course a Muckraker.

I ask you...Am I to start the New Year trying to fit this new image, or attempt to regain the ground I lost when this person called me "sweet?"

After reading this, and pondering, I picked up the "Today" section of the Spokesman-Review. The featured article was the history of names for babies over the years. Someone asked me, not too long ago, where and how I was named Herb.

I was told by my Mom that there was a comic strip character named Herb, in the 30's.

In an amazing example of prescience, they named me after this comic strip. Go figure.

Now, facing the New Year, I find myself in a dilemma. Curmudgeon or Sweet Herb? Wondering has, without knowing it, picked my New Years resolution. I will try my best to live up to this "sweet" image, kicking and screaming all the way. This will be a stretch for a comic strip character named after a Curmudgeon. Or...Whatever...