By Jack Richards
In the year 1948 Red Richards, operator of Riverside Esso on 4 Street N.E. in the Riverside area of Calgary, decided a tow truck was needed. A 1948 F-68 Ford one ton was ordered from his friend, Ernie McCullough, of Maclin Ford Motors. At the same time, a wrecker was ordered from Motor Car Supply Ltd – a Marquette model 913 hand-cranked model. The truck was a maroon color when it arrived. It was sent to Steve’s Auto Body for the addition of an ivory color, with wrecker a bright red. The lettering was done at Hook Signs, and Unit #1 of Red’s Towing & Wrecker Service was ready to go.
This started the first independent towing service in the Province: the phone number was R1647 for 24 hour towing service, including AMA. In 1950 the towing business was moved to Banff Trail Esso at 16 Avenue and 10 Street N.W. and the phone number changed to H3847.
A duplicate of Unit #1 can be seen at the Big Hill Towing shop in Cochrane. It was completely restored by Jack Richards, Red Fulton and Dave Brosseau.
Next on the scene was Unit #2 a 1951 GMC three ton ordered from Calgary Motor Products. The wrecker was a twin boom Holmes model W-35, the largest commercial wrecker built at the time. Under the supervision of Red Richards, this truck and wrecker was put together by Industrial Welding and Equipment. It was painted company colors by Detroit Auto Body of Calgary and later lettered by Hook Signs.
By this time Red Richards had sold his service station operation and was now running a full time towing company assisted by wife Ruby, sons Fred & Jack, and son-in-law George Kneiss.
Later came the 1952 Ford F-6 with a Holmes 635 twin line wrecker. This was a cab over engine model; a real beauty with new colors of white with blue and a red wrecker. This was my unit to drive and I did so with great pride.