taxi driver

Remembering Ambrose Floyd.

After I found this charming portrait of long-time taxi driver Ambrose Floyd, I went searching for more about his life:

Wilson Daily Times, 3 November 1980.

Ambrose Floyd first appears in local newspapers in connection with a reckless driving charge that was dismissed when prosecutors realized that: (1) the charge under which Floyd was indicted was not law until after July 1; (2) Floyd was not driving his car at the time of the accident; and (3) the witness could not remember whether the driver of Floyd’s car made a “stop signal.”

Wilson Daily Times, 29 June 1927.

Floyd placed this ad in the Daily Times early in his taxi-driving career, when he also offered moving services.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1931.

A 1940 article reporting the results of national and local elections included a brief mention of an “unusual” event: Ambrose Floyd received a dozen votes as a write-in candidate for township constable.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 November 1940.

As World War II dragged on, representatives of Safety Cab Company — Ambrose Floyd, Hugh T. Foster, and Lemore Hannah — informed the public that the business agreed with the Office of Defense Transportation to adopt measures “to conserve tires, gas, and equipment.”

Wilson Daily Times, 15 September 1943.

Local color columnist John G. Thomas wrote this story about Floyd and a mysterious fireball in 1941.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 April 1945.

This 1947ad dates Floyd’s transportation services work to 1926.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 August 1947.

In 1952, after bus companies complained of unfair competition, the North Carolina Utilities Commission commenced proceedings against Ambrose Floyd and three other taxi drivers. After an investigation, the commission dismissed the charges.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 October 1952.

In 1955, Floyd was proclaimed safe driver of the day for an unblemished 29-year safety record.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 November 1955.

Ambrose Floyd passed away in October 1981, just under a year after his in-depth feature in the Daily Times.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 October 1981.

The Carters came to Wilson.

Jesse A. Jacobs and his second wife, Sarah Henderson Jacobs, arrived in Wilson from Dudley, in southern Wayne County, circa 1905. Several members of my extended family, including my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (whom they adopted), arrived in their wake.

I have written of Jesse Jacobs’ nephew, Milford E. Carter Sr., son of Marshall and Frances Jacobs Carter, who settled his family briefly in Wilson. My grandmother recollected that several of Milford Carter’s brothers regularly visited Wilson, and at least one, Harold V. Carter (1902-1969), remained long enough to work in town:

“The Carters looked ‘bout like white folks. I didn’t really know ‘em. I think it was nine of them boys.  The three I knew was Milford and Johnnie and Harold, I think.  They used to come to Wilson, but –the older one didn’t come up.  But Milford, Harold ….  the two youngest ones come over and stayed with Annie Bell. Johnnie –  and Freddie, too.  When I’d go to Uncle Lucian’s, they lived not too far from there. But I never went to their house. I think Harold was the youngest one.  ‘Cause that’s the one came to Wilson, and Albert, Annie Bell’s husband, got him a job down to the station driving a cab. And he got his own car, and he was down there for a long time. Harold. He’s the youngest one. Carter. All of them was great big.”

Five of the nine Carter brothers — John, Ammie, Wesley (a cousin), Richard, Granger, Richard Jr. (a nephew), and Harold Carter, 1950s.

“The Carter boys was always nice. They come up here, come to stay with Annie Bell, Papa’s youngest daughter. They wasn’t here at the same time. They was driving cabs. So they used to come over all the time. I went with Harold down to Dudley once ‘cause he was going and coming back that same day. See, Uncle Lucian was sick, so I went down with him and come back.”

A few notes on this recollection:

  • Harold Carter was the second youngest of nine Carter brothers (and one sister.)
  • Annie Bell Jacobs Gay was Jesse A. Jacobs’ daughter. Her husband Albert S. Gay, a porter at the Hotel Cherry, died in 1932. Their son, Albert S. Gay Jr., co-founded a taxi service, Veterans Cab Company, shortly after World War II, and I briefly wondered if Harold Carter drove for his cousin’s company. However, given the reference to Harold Carter driving my grandmother from Wilson to Dudley to visit her great-uncle, J. Lucian Henderson, who died in 1934, it is clear that it was in fact Albert Sr. who referred Harold for a job driving taxis. “The station” was probably the Atlantic Coast Line passenger rail station located across the street from the Cherry Hotel.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, copyright 1994. All rights reserved. Copy of original photo of the Carters in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.