Madison.TheDarkSide.Wisconsin. Chapter10.TheTransporters

Chapter 10

The Transporters

The Capital Times. 

Saturday, July 10. 1920

“Alcohol Flows into This City Like Water Down a Mountain in the Spring.”

 

              Frank was a man who tended to stay alone, by himself.  Frank was an inactive Marine.  He had been a farm kid on a small farm just outside of Fond du Lac, about 20 miles toward Sheboygan.  When he was 17, his dad explained to him that his older brother would be getting the farm, which was just the way it was.  He looked to the east, and saw Sheboygan, with fleets of fishing boats, boats that went out into Lake Michigan in all weather, heat and cold, to get fish to sell.  To the west, was Fond du Lac, with factories, machine shops, industry, trade, and work that did not involve a cold wet boat and cold wet fish, not that he didn’t like fish.  He liked his fish, baked, broiled, or roasted, or fried.  Just not fresh, wiggling, cold and wet. 

              So, when school got out, in June, he hitched a ride with one of the wagons that travelled the road from Sheboygan to Fond du Lac, an older guy, with a bottle, and a lot of stories, some about girls.  In FDL, as the sharpies called it, he was bunked in with his cousin, at his aunt and uncles place, just east of the four corners, in the center of town, perhaps a mile south of the bottom of Lake Winnebago.  His cousin seemed to know everybody in the town, which is not that big an achievement in a town of a couple thousand, and by the first Saturday night, Frank had a job, a place to stay after the first paycheck, and he went out to the concert at the band stand.  His cousin, Norbert, a self-perceived   lady’s man, introduced him to a beautiful blond girl.  Blue eyes you could sink into, red hair down to her shoulders, and a smile that would melt the largest ice glacier in Montana, Frank was certain that she was the girl for him.  Within a week, the first kiss led to the second, and then a third and then…….  .  Meanwhile, at the place he had found a job, a brunette girl in the front office, had made time to come and see him at the machine he ran.  After putting a piece of wood in the machine, the machine cut and shaped the wood, and he had about 40 seconds to watch, or talk.  Friday night was good for both of them, and he started seeing a second your woman.  Not a bad accomplishment for a 17 year old guy, in town for the first time of his life.  Friday nights were good, and Saturday nights just as good.

              Then, about two months after he moved from the farm to Fond du Lac, two disasters happened, or, perhaps three.  The brunette told him on Friday night that he was going to be a daddy, and she said that he was the man for her, and he had a great future, and they would have to get married quickly so the baby would be thought to be legitimate.  Shocked as a young man of 17 could be at that news, he nodded, and the usual activities of a Friday night ensued, except, that now, there was no worry about a pregnancy.  Saturday night was the blond’s   night.  The news from her was also illuminating.  She was pregnant, and she looked forward to spending the rest of her life with Frank, and to bare him more babies, and he was a good man, and he would provide for her and the kids, and she wouldn’t have to work because she would be home taking care of his children and making more.

                             Frank was now experienced at receiving this kind of news without comment, or expression.  This was Saturday night, after all, and being engaged, so to speak, a practice session for the honeymoon was in order.  At church the next day, after the services, both young women saw Frank, and saw fit to introduce him to their parents.  As the brunette was taking him in arm to meet her father, the Judge, Judge Royster, the blond approached and a discussion broke out, not about the weather, but, weather he was going to have blond children or brunette.  Turned out, the blond breeder, was the prize daughter of another man of importance, the Sheriff of Fond du Lac County.

 

Well, two men of the law, can have a quiet discussion, but this was not one of those times.  Frank was taken to the courthouse, not under arrest you know, although with 16 year old girls, that was a possibility. X2.  The two men of law discussed the situation, and the two girls were sent to a Catholic girl’s school down by Milwaukee, where the diocese took care of these things, making sure that the babies were adopted to the wealthy benefactors of the church.  But, what to do about Frank, especially to protect the community from someone as virile as this teen.  The Sheriff had been in the Army, serving in the west, and the Judge was a Marine, serving on a variety of warships in the late 18th century.  After much discussion, perhaps 5 minutes, it was decided.  The boy and the Sheriff would be on the next day’s train to Milwaukee, and a path to the recruiters for the Marines, and the Army would be trod.  As it turned out, the Marines were closed to the train terminal, and thus, Frank became a Marine, just six months before the war against Spain,   his training was short, and he was on a battleship that was at the battle of the Philippines where he saw the Spanish fleet sunk with almost no damage to the American’s and their great white ships.  Liking the east, Frank was in China for the Boxer Rebellion, by that time a Sargent, and he was known to have put up a good show, and brought all his men out.  There were some other appearances by the Marines up until the start of the Great War, and he was stationed at the embassy in London when the Archduke and wife were shot.

Knowing the London area, he was the man to talk to about logistics, and getting things, and getting things done.  When the Marines started arriving, he was issued more stripes for his arm, and was in charge or a great quantity of those large Mack chain drive trucks.  His war years were spent with a pencil, a fleet of trucks, and the worry of getting equipment from the docks in France to the soldiers at the front.  He was soon the expert for getting things done, and the Army, even the Army, send men to him to learn how to get things done.  Unlike some other Marines, Marines who would have messed with the Army men, Frank figured out that there would be a need for friends in the future and having friends all over was better.  It took almost 6 months to get all the men home, and there was no need for a trucking man in a peacetime Marine Corp, a Corp that had shrunk to a small fraction of its wartime strength.

Frank had no home, Fond du Lac had skeletons, and he had heard many things good about the capital city, a place called Madison, from a sharpshooter named the Swede.  A large man, a man who was good to have at your back in a bar fight, they had had their fun in Paris.  So, when the Marines mustered him out, the train to Madison was as good a ride as any.  When he got there, it took about an hour to find someone who knew the Swede, and he took Frank over to meet a guy in the Italian section.  Well, Frank’s grandmother was from the old country, and his Italian was not good, but good enough to get a job as a driver for the Sicilian. 

The Sicilian had, through his contacts, a fleet of Ford Model TT trucks.  The brewery who had them to start with had stopped making beer, therefore, didn’t need the trucks.  The owner of the brewery had traded the trucks into the Buick Agency in town for two new Buicks, which was a useful trade for both.  Of the eight trucks, the Swede had bought one, a flatbed, from his neighbor, the agency owner, and another was in use by the Japanese laundry, that one was a panel delivery truck, and the remainder, six in total, had been bought by the Sicilian for his businesses.  He had them modified by the Swede, and the one that was being used by Frank today was typical of the modifications that all of the other trucks received partially, or in full.  To start with, the back of the cab was moved backwards.  The outside was doubled with another backside from a wrecked truck, and the back of the cab was moved rearward by 12 inches.  The inside was moved rearward about 6 inches, making a space between the inside back wall, and the outside back wall of about 6 inches.  This space, from side to side, top to bottom was fitted with a tank, which was about 60 gallons capacity.  The firewall was similarly doubled, and had about 25 gallons capacity.  The frame rails had long slender tanks on the inside and outside of the I beam rails that were the frame members, which allowed for about 16 gallons on each side, and there was a false floor under the real cargo bed which was only about 3 inches deep, but was 6 feet wide, and 12 feet long.  The capacity of that tank was close to 120 gallons, for a total hidden capacity of about 236 gallons of some sort of liquid.  Mostly, the cargo was Canadian Whiskey, shipped from Sault Saint Marie, in Canada.              

The drive was a long one, about 450 miles one way, on roads that were ok to Green Bay, on the old Military Road, but from there north, the roads were mostly dirt or gravel.  Two days in each direction was about right, with time for a shower and a hot meal and refilling the thermos for the ride back.  At first, when Frank had started, the ride up was done in two days, but the ride back was non-stop, which was why he had a rider who would split the driving with him, for the return drive was almost 22 to 24 hours of movement.   Shortly, the Sicilian had made arrangements for a sleepover in a locked warehouse in the city of Marinette, Wisconsin, about half way.  The Sicilian had bought a fruit and vegetable wholesale business in Marinette just for the warehouse, which he staffed with his own men.  Splitting the run into two drives of about 225 miles on those roads made for a long day, but, a workable day. 

Frank always stopped on the drive up to sleep over in Marinette, and to have dinner at the roadhouse that was on the highway through town.  He enjoyed the cooking of Mrs. Anne, a 33 year old Welch girl, widowed by the logging trade, and her daughter, Dawn, a sturdy girl of about 16.  They put a meal on, at noon, and at 6 pm, that was attended by both bachelors and business men who were in the downtown area.  Both were easy on the eyes, and a soft, attentive voice was a welcome addition to the lives of both the single and married men of Marinette.

This trip, he and his co-driver, an Italian man of about his age, made good time, and pulled into Marinette about 5 pm, after leaving Madison about 6 am.  Pulling the truck, labeled on the side, “Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetables” into the warehouse, both used the shower that was over a floor drain.  There were two beds in an office off to the side, in the front, which were used by drivers, and others who needed a soft place.  At six o’clock sharp they walked in the door of Mrs. Anne’s, and found a table with four chairs open in a corner.  In seconds, Dawn came over with large glasses of water, with ice.  She was a buxom lass, and wore a dress that many might have thought scandalous.  The tops of her teen age bosoms were visible when she was observed from straight ahead, and when she bent over, such as to deliver the water, soup, salad, dinner of desert, the casual observer could detect the full size and scope of the delicate orbs.  Tips for a dinner at a fine restaurant in town might be perhaps a quarter, for dinner for two, but, here, the sweet Dawn frequently earned 50 cents for taking an order and making many visits to a table, with fresh water, rolls, or just to say hello. 

Dinner that night was roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, roll and butter, with strawberry rhubarb pie for the dessert.  The guys ordered two dinners, with root beer to wash.  The Sicilian was strict.  No drinking while driving with his truck or with his cargo.  Nobody wanted to find out what the penalty was. 

“Hi guys, the menu is on the sign, would you like two?”  This was the Italian guy’s first trip in the door, and the sight of this young ladies breasts made him not pay much attention to what she was saying.  Frank, who was a regular, nodded. 

              “Two root beers also.”

Tony looked at Frank, and was going to say something but thought better of it when he notices Anne behind the bar, watching.  She was also a sight, and there was a family resemblance in her physique, and her display of such wealth. 

Frank said “Her ma watches her, they take care of each other, but, they are women, and they have needs also.  I just behave myself, leave a good tip, wait until closing with root beers, and see what happens.  There is a reason I do that every run, every week.”

Tony nodded.  “We have women like that in the bush, quiet and behaved in public, but…..”

Dawn, who had been in the back, came out with two dinner rolls, and bent down to set the plate on the table, in the middle, giving the two men a show.  She had intentionally forgot the butter, so, feigning surprise, stated.  “Oh, darn, I forgot your butter, I’ll be right back.”

Such a bad job of acting made the men smile, as they watched her backside sway as she scurried back to the kitchen.  The speed with which she came back out the doorway tattle tailed that the butter had been prepared in the kitchen, and there now was justification to tease the grown men with another bending over the table as she set the butter next to the rolls.  Mrs. Anne was watching this, for there were only one other table with men eating, and it had been apparent when they came in that they were church men, for they had bowed their heads and said the prayer of grace, even before the young girl had come over.  That they were religious men was interesting, for it spoke that the food served was superior to any other restaurant in the area.

Soon enough, the men of the cloth finished their meal, settled up, and left.  The sounds of a Model T is unmistakable, and the four left in the road house soon knew that they were the only ones left.  The sun was low on the horizon, when Mrs. Anne went over to the door, closed it, slide the bolt over, and flipped the sign that said open on one side to the closed on the flip side.

“Boys, how about a little music, I just got a new record for the gramophone from Sears, and we sort of like the tunes.”

Both men nodded, and after a brisk cranking, the gramophone started its work.  Mrs. Anne came over to Frank, and extended her hand in an invitation to dance.  Frank was fond of dancing with the womenfolk, he often went to the dances in Madison on Sunday afternoons.  He was pleasantly surprised to find two things, first that the dance was the type where the man would hold the woman.  He found that her head tucked perfectly onto his shoulder, and he felt her breasts against his chest.  His hand, starting on the small of her back, slowly slid down, and he discovered, again pleasantly, that she either did not wear bloomers during the day, or had removed them in the back, prior to locking the door and starting the music>

With his hand cradling her butt, her breasts rubbing his chest, he was soon responding to the application of prime womanhood.  She turned him to face her, and held him close enough to she would have had to be dead not to notice his manhood.  Looking over at the table, he saw that Dawn had moved Tony to one of the heavy chairs which usually were at the heavy table for 6, which, he had previously noticed was substantial in its construction.  Tony had started the dance with Dawn sitting on his lap, watching her mother and Frank on the dance floor.  Soon enough, she was dancing on Tony’s lap, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Giggling, Dawn leaned back against his chest, her head eventually next to his, and whispered, “Look at where his hand is,  I think that she likes it.”

Tony, whose hands had been on the arms of the chair, which itself was almost three feet, and heavily cushioned, moved his hands to her hips, and discovered that there was little, if anything under her dress.  He held her hips, and they moved to the music.  Suddenly, she took both of those hands and moved them up her side to her breasts, whispering to him.  “Don’t think I’m too young to enjoy a man!” 

Tony, who hadn’t had those thoughts at all, but was more thinking about a young girl’s mother, and what she would say and do if she noticed an older man with his hands all over her daughter.  Besides, this mother was a cook, and in the kitchen, there were a lot of sharp knives, ranging from small paring knives, which could be thrown like daggers, or the big butchering knives almost 18 inches long.  He needn’t have worried, Miss Anne was watching her daughter, with a really big smile on her face.  Tony noticed that her hands were busy, one around Frank’s neck, and the other below his belt, checking her progress on the notification of his manhood.

Seeing what looked like permission, his hands went a bit further, to the three buttons left buttoned on the front of her frock.  After freeing them from their confines, Dawn stood up, twirled, and sat down on Tony’s lap again, this time facing him.  Her dress was about her waist, and she took his head in her hands, and her lips started exploring his lips, first with no tongue, then with a little, then all that she had.  His hands were busy, and her nipples responded in good fashion.  Tony’s hands went to her butt, and he discovered that she too, was naked under her outer garments.  She then lifted her dress over her head, and he had the thrill of a young teenager dancing as Eve had in the beginning, but on his lap. 

Meanwhile, on the dance floor, Miss Anne had unbuttoned Frank’s fly, and his manhood was catching the night air.  Her dress had opened to the waist, and suddenly Frank lifted her up, catching a nipple in his mouth.  She wrapped her legs around him, and told him.  “To the table, it will support us.” 

Two steps found her sitting on the table, perfect height for what would follow.  Her dress was lifted, and she stripped the shirt off of Frank, throwing it to the floor, he had slipped his suspenders to remove the shirt, and he soon lost his pants and undergarments.  Wisely, he had removed his work boots when the dancing started, and he was in the arms of Mrs. Anne, garbed only in his sox.  Nature ensued, and her cries of enthusiasm were motivation to Dawn and Tony who joined them at the table. 

Callers to the roadhouse probably wouldn’t have wanted to be served at that particular table, but it was perfect for it’s called upon duty that night.  Each woman, the still young mother, and the daughter, who in the eyes of many would have been considered not old enough for the eves activities, had cause to call out to their God on multiple occasions.

Frank and Tony looked at each other, and wordlessly, changed partners, so that there would be no argument in the coming days of which was better, mother or daughter.

The net result, was that each had fine attributes, different, but very fine attributes.  Either would have been welcome in bed on a cold winter night, or, in this case, a warm summer night.  Or, not even in bed.

The morning found partners with partners, and the roadhouse opening for business at 6 am.  The guys were the first customers of the day, and ate well, having worked up an appetite the night before.  On the road at 6:10, stomachs full, thermoses full of coffee, they had a good eight hours to Sault Sainte Marie, to unload the vegetables, and load the liquid gold, and the empty bottles, which the bill of lading said was to go to the Madison Sarsaparilla Company, on West Main Street, in Madison, Wisconsin.

The two men were quiet for an hour.  The each had a china mug from the road house.  Frank spoke.  “On the way back, we should stop and return these mugs.”

“Yup”

“Maybe around supper time, or a bit latter”

“Yup”

“Maybe dance a bit.”

“Yup”

“Tony. What’s got your tongue, can’t you speak the King’s English for more than one word.

“I’m going back to Madison, and back to a neighborhood full of Italian women, some with mustaches better than mine.  After those two, there ain’t nothing in Madison, east side, west side, downtown, that carries a candle to either of those two.”

“Yup.”

The rest of the trip that day was uneventful.  The pinery had been cut perhaps twenty years before, and the trees were grown up to maybe 20 feet.  About supper time, they reached Sault Saint Marie, and the Sicilians’ warehouse.      Their orders were to watch the loading, making sure that all the tanks were full to the brim, the drains were closed and safety wired against the road shock.  They also checked that the cases of empty Canadian Whiskey, had all been washed and rewashed to make sure that anyone checking would find that there was no whiskey at all in the empty bottles.  “No need to remove the labels in Canada, sir, the factory in Madison washes the bottles, removes the old labels with steam, and puts the new labels on right there, just before they refill them with Sarsaparilla.”

They slept in the warehouse, and there was two fresh men in the truck the next day, heading south.  Customs was no problem.  Those Customs men drove better cars than their pay grade dictated, and their kids were the first in their family to be educated at any university.  And at the University of Wisconsin, where their scholarships stated they must be educated, they were at dormitories just a few blocks from the Sicilian, and in fact, sometimes ate Sunday dinner at his house.  Yes, Customs was an easy obstacle to get through.

Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Fresh beans from the garden, and more coffee, were the menu selections.  The men knew that the truck had to be in motion, for if it stopped, it could be hijacked.  When they were in the truck, Frank had his revolver in a slot in the dashboard, and his Model 1911 Automatic in a slot in the seat.  Tony also had a revolver, and had a Thompson submachine gun, with the stock cut off making for a wicked machine pistol.  But all this armament was useless to guard the cargo, if the boys were sleeping in some roadhouse.  They ate, and said their goodbyes.  Then Dawn took Tony by the hand and led him out to the barn.  About 10 minutes later she came back, with a little hay in her hair.  Tony was smiling like a moron, but, he was a happy moron.  Mrs. Anne spoke, “Take care of the customers, I’ll be back in a minute, or two.  Tony and Dawn knew that it would not be 60 seconds, or even 120 seconds.  Tony grabbed the coffee pot, and freshened up the customer’s cups, and Dawn watched the stove.  After about 15 minutes, the two returned, both in good mood.

The truck fired up, and the two rolled back onto the road south.  The Swede had mounted a strong generator, and lights from a Cadillac, so the vision after dark was superb.  The two men, both in great moods, sang some of the standards of the day, and while racking their memory, were able to remember the tunes and words from the record at Mrs. Anne’s.

Saint Christopher did his work, and the two weary travelers pulled into Madison, to the Madison Fruit and Vegetable Warehouse, just a few minutes late.  They had made some good time after they got on the improved highway from Green Bay to Madison, gravel all the way.  The surveyors had done good work when they laid out the Old Military Road, and it was too dusty, men, in good mood who drove the truck into the warehouse, directly over the grease pit, that long trench in the floor, originally meant to have a man in to drain the oil and grease the many fittings that modern truck had to lubricate the moving joints.  And indeed, after a 800 mile road trip, eventually, the oil would be changed, and the grease fittings greased.  More importantly, the men got into action. Glass milk bottles, washed of all traces of the milk, were used with funnels to drain the whiskey, one gallon, or just short each time.  The bottles were passed out to runners, who took the whiskey to work benches, where it was dumped into a two gallon container with a 3/8 inch pipe with valve at the bottom.  The Canadian whiskey bottles, washed in Canada, were then refilled, and recorked with the same corks the distillery had used.  It would take several hours for the work to be completed. 

Frank and Tony were given their pay in cash.  Two days of 8 to 10 hours each for the trip up, and one day, full 20 to 24 hours for the trip back, netted them a full weeks pay.  If they wanted, they could have taken two trips per week, but, there were other men who needed the work, and the Sicilian liked it if the men were around, because they were walking billboards of the good work that men could get working in the Fruit and Vegetable business.

Four days off, in summer, meant that going to the different county fairs was ok, camping in the fields next to the fair grounds was encouraged, to get the money of people from outside the county, and there were people to meet, games to play, and girls to later meet in the dark.  Summer was also a time for the milk bars, walking downtown, meeting the people who were new in town, and visiting with the old friends in the neighborhood.  During the day, fishing, reading the papers, and thinking about things. 

One of the other teams had crashed, in the dark.  Nobody was hurt, but the driver probably dozed off.  It was at three o’clock in the morning, and while they were able to get a farmer with a couple of Clydesdale sized horses to bring them back onto the road, the warning was there.  The Sicilian had asked Frank what his idea was, and after this trip he had the solution.  After calling to get a morning appointment with the Sicilian, Frank explained his plan over orange juice, dark coffee, fruit, and a soft boiled egg. 

“I usually stop at a road house outside of Marinette, it is about half-way to the warehouse in Canada in Sault Saint Marie.  The woman who runs it with her daughter is a good woman, hard working.  They have a big barn out back, I looked in it the last trip.  A couple of locks, and a couple of boards, and it is secure.  Two beds and the drivers could sleep with the truck and be on the road fresh in the morning.  She could use a man around the place, and if you put one of your men there, he would know just what is happening, and would be able to keep it safe, secure, and in our control.”

“You make a good point, Frankie, jour guy can keep a watch on the road, see if there is anything happening on the road that I should know about.  How busy is the place?”

“We are there about supper time, and there are always a couple of trucks, or salesmen there.  It is the best place to eat north of Green Bay, hell, north of Oshkosh.”  He added. “It quiets down just before dark, nobody wants to drive the north woods in the dark, what with the bears, coyotes, wolves, and whatever else is up there.”

“Good, and they can use some fruits and vegetables?”

“They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If your prices can compete with the grocery store in Marinete, why wouldn’t they want to buy your fruits and vegetables?”

The Sicilian took a long drink of coffee, then lit his cigar.  “You know most of the men in my organization, who do you think would want to work that far from here, Gods little slice of heaven?”

“After clearing his mouth, Frank replied.  “Tony seemed to like the north woods for a change.  If you paid him a little more for being away from his family and friends, you might be able to get him to spend some time up there.  Maybe not twelve months of the year, but, him and a couple of other guys could trade off.  Have to ask him.”

“Well Frankie, you got the time, why don’t you take one of the cars for a drive and see if you can find him.  He likes to fish in the morning by the dam over on Wingra, see if you can find him and try to talk him into this.  It would be very important to me to see if you can handle this little bit of my business for me.”

“Yes, sir.  I will report back as soon as I finish with him”

After breakfast, and a complement to the housekeeper, a woman of some respect in the community for the man she worked for, Frank took a Chevrolet roadster, only a year or so old, and went for a drive.  Only about 10 minutes later, he saw Tony, pole in hand, sitting at the side of the lake, two fish next to him on the grass. 

“Tony, how da’ biting?”

“Good, got lunch here, and dinner soon enough.”

“Tony, I bet you $20 I can talk the Sicilian into hiring you to live in the road house with Mrs. Annie, and Dawn, and get paid to live there with them.”

Because this is a family oriented book, I cannot accurately portray the response that Tony had for Frank’s wager, other than:  “Gee, gosh, golly, and wow.”

Within a half hour, Frank was back at the Sicilian’s house, with the two fish as a present from Frankie to the Scillian’s lunch menu.  Leaving the newspaper wrapped fish with the housekeeper, he heard her exclaim. 

“What a present, they didn’t even gut and clean them.  Huh.  Hold it, they’re still alive.  Well, I guess that was to show that the fish are fresh.”

“Good news, sir.  Tony will accept the assignment to live away from family and friends at that roadhouse in the middle of nowhere.  I didn’t say anything about the money, I figured that was between him and you.

“Well done, I may have some other work for you to do in my name soon.”  For now, I have to go for a drive.  Do you want to take me?”

“Certainly.”  And that was how a person got ahead in the days of the prohibition.  Do a little job well, get a bigger assignment, do that job well, and responsibility grew.  Nothing was said of those who screwed up.  Sometimes, people climbed the ladder of success one rung too high.   Sometimes.

 

 

 

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