Gump, Double Gump and Miramichi clubs

Posted on October 25, 2007
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             When I started calling 773-5501 over 30 years ago, Gump Gorman had already been driving cab in Miramichi for 17 years.

            When I needed a cab on Wednesday, while my car was being serviced, Gump was the driver. His son is now the proprietor. He said that, at 82, (doesn’t look it) he’s beginning to think of packing it in but he doesn’t know what he’d do with his time. He knows that, whatever it is, will have to involve being around people. That has been his life.

            On Wednesday he showed me a couple of key tags a customer had had made for him in Ireland. One reads Gorman, the other O’Gorman. One explains the origin of the name. Apparently it means blue.

            Nightlife in clubs used to be a much bigger thing here. At one time bars like The Whooper, The Palamino, The Wing, The Opera House, The Domino, the Low Tide, High Tide, Up Tide, Wharf Inn, Zodiac (aka Zoo) and the Legions might all have live bands on the same weekend if not the same night. At the same time both officers and warrant officers had their own messes at CFB Chatham.

            Matt Minglewood, Dutchy Mason, Sam Moon, Freightliner, Evans & Doherty, Richie Oakley, Doug and the Slugs, Winmill, BB Seecrist, and others were regular performers. Some of the local bands could have traveled but had better lives staying here and having gig money as extra to their day jobs. I still say Nancy Davis did Doobie Brothers better than the Doobie Brothers.

            There was a great deal of drinking. One local businessman drank triple rum and Pepsi in a small glass – and plenty of them. It wasn’t unusual for club regulars to put away a 40 ouncer over the course of a night. Mind you a night often commenced with happy hour at four p.m. and ended at four a.m.

            There was more seasonal employment bolstered by months of unemployment insurance in those days too. Many folks didn’t have to get up early.

            Gradually society, the law and insurance companies clamped down on drunk driving. At one point, Premier Richard Hatfield started his own provincial police force, supplementary to the RCMP. The New Brunswick Highway Patrol didn’t last long but it certainly generated a lot of cash flow from speeders and impaired drivers.

            Through all of that, the taxi business hummed. Liquor stores weren’t open every night and Sundays then and drivers did a lot of ferrying shoppers back and forth from the stores when they were open.

            Gorman’s (later O’Gorman’s) taxi business was so busy it had a dispatcher, the gravel voiced Edna MacLean. Having learned the hard way not to drink and drive, I’d leave my car home when I went out at night.

            When the last dog had been hung, I’d call 773-5501, Edna would answer, I’d say, “Time to go home, Edna.”

            “Where are you dear?” she’d reply.

            In those days, incidentally, it was a mixed message to have your vehicle spotted parked at one of the local clubs in the morning.

            One message was “He drinks to excess.”

            The other was, “He doesn’t drive drunk.”

            For those who did drink to excess but didn’t want to broadcast that message, there was, and is, the Double Gump.

            You dial 773-5501 and ask for it. What you get is a cab with two drivers. One of them takes you and your car home. The other follows to retrieve the driver. It costs double the cost of a single Gump. Mind you, if you use your head and take a cab when you leave home it works out the same, doesn’t it? Cab out. Cab back.

            It is a wonderful fall back plan for when you discover that more rum than you intended has somehow gotten into your mouth. It’ll do that, you know.

            Considering the math of the alternative, it is a lifetime bargain. Consider being arrested, tried, convicted, fined, loss of license, humungous increase in insurance costs and the distinct possibility of someone’s blood on your hands, and an extra five or ten bucks is purely a trifle. Not much more than the cost of one for the road.

            So, raise your glasses and join me in a toast to Gump and the Double Gump!

            Here’s to us and those like us. Damn few of us left!

            On we go!



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