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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Howards's Radio Taxi Service

Posted By on Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 7:09 PM

Back in the days when the Lauderdales were described in the Encyclopedia Britannica as "captains of industry" we rarely worried about competition. If some scalawag dared to open his own dirigible factory, we just burned it down. It was all very simple.

Even so, I've always been intrigued by the methods (more legal ones, I mean) that smaller businesses employed to stay a step ahead of their competition. And a good case in point is Howard's Radio Taxi Service, which operated in Memphis in the 1940s and 1950s. Anyone in need of a taxi probably figured that all cabs were alike, and that's why Howard G. Washington, who operated his company out of his home on Neptune, equipped his with radios.

In case you were wondering, radios were NOT standard equipment in cars in the 1940s.

As the ads said, that way his passengers could "get your music while you ride." At the same time, Washington took pains to point out that his taxicabs — for reasons that were never explained — offered "a dignified ride." And mighty spiffy-looking cars they were, too.

I found this interesting old ad in the back of a 1949 city directory. I don't know how long Howard Washington stayed in business, but today 754 Neptune is a vacant lot.




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