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Driving a Taxi in 1950s Detroit

In the 1950s, Detroit was one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing cities in America. Photo: Reddit

*****

By Doug Hedemark

This happened in Detroit in 1952. I had a few days off from my regular job as a bricklayer’s apprentice, so I thought I could make a few bucks driving a taxicab. I got a radio cab for a night and set out to make some money.

My very first customer was a good-looking young woman who wanted me to drive her to her home in a very tough neighbourhood in the middle of Old Detroit.

As she got out of the cab, a straight razor fell out of purse and onto the floor. Then, instead of handing me any cash, she invited me up to her apartment where she said she would “pay me.” I could not get away from there fast enough! I did not make any money on that trip.

Then, my Taxi was hailed by a very old man. I knew most parts of Detroit because I had lived there since I was a boy, but I could not find the street he wanted. We drove around a long time, looking for a street that I had never heard of. Eventually, I gave up and called the dispatcher on my radio to see if anyone at the Taxi company knew where this street was.

When he heard my voice, the dispatcher shouted, “Hedemark, where are you? I have been calling you for half an hour. You have to get to the hospital – your wife just delivered a baby boy!” So I did not make any money on that trip, either.

This was my first son and my second child, Patrick. My wife Joanie and I had prayed to God asking for children, and we promised God we would take every baby he would send to us. We had 10 kids, including two sets of twins, all healthy.

After my short career as a Taxi driver in Detroit, I went back to working in construction where the money was better and more regular. I tip my hat to the guys who could make money driving Taxi; that is a hard way to make money.