Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Get up on that bus

Wick's World


February 22, 2018

When I first arrived in New York City, I was fresh out of the Army. When I told New Yorkers my name was Wick Fisher, I was tagged as “The Fish Man.” Ironically, the same nickname had previously followed me for two years in the U.S. Army. No matter how many times I tried to tell people I was Wick Fisher, I only became myself once again when I left New York City and returned home to Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Meanwhile, every weekday morning, Monday through Friday, I would catch the A train from Ozone Park in the borough of Queens for a short 20-minute ride to Brownsville, a predominately black neighborhood in the borough Brooklyn, New York. After a two-block jaunt down Jamaica Avenue, I would then catch a bus to my workplace at the large nationwide telephone company we called Ma Bell.

I was one of the few white guys to be found in that neck of the woods back in 1970. The locals, both those at the bus stop and the workforce at Ma Bell, soon got to know me as the harmless hick from South Dakota. I eventually got to know several of the regular people at the bus stop who also worked at Ma Bell. One character struck me as mentally ill. It was only after a few weeks of hanging around this guy that I realized he was simply a walking, talking Eddie Murphy or Richard Prior. The only difference was that he had to actually work for a living.

This guy worked beside me at Ma Bell and for the next year, I don’t think he ever once shut his trap for a complete 60 seconds ... ever. He was one of the funniest men I ever met. One of the best lines ever to come out of a human’s mouth, comedian or not, came from this guy. Without fail, while we stood at the same corner at the same time every Monday through Friday waiting for the same bus to carry us over to the Ma Bell factory, every few minutes (or seconds) this guy would yell in a loud voice, “Get up on that bus! There’s a policeman watching you!” It was a very catchy phrase.

This phrase is destined to be passed down through our family. It became one of "Dad’s" memorable quotes that my sons carried with them when they went out to seek their place in the universe. I would love to share the quote my sons carry with them that originated with their mother. Unfortunately, if I were to allocate any part of that quote to my reading audience, my bedroom would immediately turn into a walk-in freezer. Some things are best left alone.

What I do know is that a lot of my Brooklyn buddy’s quotes had to have been passed down to his children. It was a situation that was impossible not to happen. Having children and raising a family never would have shut this guy up. After he got a family, he probably talked even more, if that was possible, and I’m sure he added a lot more memorable quotes to his repertoire.

What I like to envision is this scenario. Several generations from now, two racially mixed people are standing at a bus stop somewhere in the greater New York City area. One of the individuals blurts out, “Get up on that bus! There’s a policeman watching you!”

“Where did you hear that?” exclaims the other guy.

“From my grandfather,” he replies.

“Did they use to call him the Fish Man?” asks the guy with the New York accent.

"Yah, I guess that was one of his several nicknames,’’ replies Wick Fisher the Third.

Like my nickname, the Fish Man, I didn’t hang around New York City that long. I met my wife in the summer of 1971 at the University of South Dakota after both of us had just returned from traveling about Europe. After a 30-year stint in Moose Lake, we have spent nearly a decade in the Twin Cities. My wife and I are still moving about. In the next year we plan to move out to San Diego shortly before California becomes seawater and America’s top vacation destination is the Coast of Colorado.

Sometimes you just gotta “Get up on that bus! There’s a policeman watching you!”


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