Local CulturePublic Interest

Notebook Recollections: Walk This Way

Local icon Tim Rumsey walked to work most days from 1987 to 2000. He began as a form of exercise but kept at it for his love of local lore harvested through his interactions with people on the street. He began documenting his musings and eventually filled 53 pocketbooks with his observations. He continues writing about his observations to this day. Here is just one tale.
By tim rumsey, md
One sees stuff when one walks to work. 

Monday, Feb 5, 1999 
It’s 2 degrees below zero this morning. Ahead of me on St. Clair I see a cab pull into a driveway, blocking the sidewalk. As I approach, the back door opened.
“Warm your buns, doctor.” It was Tex. “When you’re toasty, just open the other door and proceed.”
“Tex,” I said. “You’ve got a gold mine here. A mobile warming house.”
Tex liked the thought. He said it could be a year-round deal. In the summer, he could sell AC by the minute.
I asked if Tex was in the neighborhood on business.
“Affirmative. My second least favorite pick-up other than a crack house at 2 a.m.”
“What can be worse than that?”
“The whelping den at St. Stan’s Daycare.”
I said I thought Tex liked kids.
“I do,” he said. “But not five of them in the backseat with grape juice boxes and graham crackers.”
“I thought that was illegal, five kids in the back of a cab.”
“Grape juice is what should be illegal.”

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 1999 
Tex was off his Camels for two weeks and had lost a little weight. He celebrated with a stylish red tie he wore on-duty. When he wasn’t working cab, he bussed to St. Mary’s nursing home to see Frank Heller. Tex hoped he could get his act together. Mr. Heller needed him. Tex even wheeled Frank down to the nursing home chapel every visit.
Let’s talk about me for a second. I served 6 a.m. mass every Monday, in that very same chapel during my eighth grade 1962 spring. That salved my conscience when missing some Sundays during my high school years.
Tex was bedeviled by the Taylor brothers. This was news to me. Two white boys up to no good. Letting air out of his cab tires. Hectoring from across the street. They even rolled him back in the days he was bus-bench-sleeping. Their mother, Laura Taylor, was a saint.
Walking home from clinic, I saw Laura Taylor in the Cooper’s checkout line through the store windows. Years ago, I often saw she and the husband at Coopers. Mr. Taylor would fly up and down the aisles, grabbing as many things out of their cart to return as Laura put in.
“We have vanilla ice cream at home, don’t we?” He yelled at her as he snatched the container out of the cart and put it on the cracker shelf.
“Is the bread fresh?” he barked at her.
“Yes.” She would answer.
“Did you feel the bread?”
“Then you don’t know, do you?”
Mr. Taylor put the bread back and squeezed, mashed really, about five different loaves of Wonder Bread before selecting one.
In the check-out line, a little later, he would be kissing Laura’s neck from behind and rubbing against her as she paid the bill and bagged the groceries.

Monday, February 25, 1999
I went to St. Mary’s Home for a scheduled medical visit with Frank Heller. Nursing home elevators in those days were so slow I thought I had stepped into a closet. I heard an interesting page during my ride: “ There will be a steak and shrimp dinner for all residents at 4 pm. Staff who need Heimlich Maneuver re-certification should report to the dining room at 3:00.”
Three days after getting on the elevator, I arrived on Frank’s floor on second. Frank looked good. Of course, he never complained. Mainly, he wanted to be sure we got to the Historical Society. With Tex.
When I told Tex that Taylors still had Jumpin’-Jack Flashe’s rough sleeping spot in the 35E woods, he headed off on a recollection of their father.
“We were the same age,” said Tex. “Went to Monroe together.”
Mr. Taylor was part of a pack of white boys who tormented the fragile souls of Monroe School. Once their group even ambushed Tex, who was not a fragile soul, on the way to school. Three boys held him down while Taylor kicked him in the stomach and head and called him a ‘half-breed darkie.’ Then he spit on Tex.
“I played opossum for a second and they lightened up on me,” Tex said. “Then I jumped up and took the boys behind the woodshed. All except Taylor who was gone the moment I got loose.”
Tex collapsed in second period. The kick to the abdomen ruptured his spleen. He was police-ambulanced over to Ancker Hospital for emergency surgery.
“I stayed away from the anal sphincter, Taylor, from then on,” Tex said.
“Were you afraid of him?” I asked.
“Afraid I’d kill him.”

Wednesday, February 27, 1999: 
Carl’s new vertical thermometer says 15 degrees today. It’s still winter on West 7 th . There were even hockey puck echoes off backyard hockey boards.

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