The Horse and Wagon

by Charles McGrath


Get a horse!

That was a common saying when I was a little boy back in the early 1940's. Every now and then my father would yell out of his car window at a motorist broken down " get a horse ". That was neither friendly nor compassionate. But! The old reliability of the horse was not easily forgotten.

Today as the old cliché goes "we take so much for granted." This is easily confirmed when we stop for a moment to look back. I was amazed that at least eight of my aunts and uncles did not drive. If I included my mother to that list it would be nine. Three families did not even own a car. I dare to say one of us today travels more in one year than both of my Grandparents probably did in their lifetimes.

The first full time job that my father had was with Wells Fargo. I would guess his age to be around around 14 years old. He was a helper to a teamster on a horse and wagon. They would transfer manufactured goods from Down Neck to Jersey City. I guess from there it went by ferry to New York. On the way back my father was on his own. The teamster would take the Central Railroad train back to Down Neck. The teamster used the evolving technology to his advantage. The teamster would be home in a couple of minutes and my father a couple of hours. As you know, a horse needs very little direction to return to its stable. This it does instinctively. It was like auto pilot. My father also learned the phrase.

Get a horse!


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