Personal History: My Father Was a New York Cabbie

My father drove a cab at night. This was the early 1950s. A Brooklyn-born New Yorker, he knew the city’s streets the way a junky knows his veins. I thought of him because of a headline in today’s New York Times: American-Born Cabbies Are a Vanishing Breed in New York. Dad also knew doormen, theater managers, stage hands, bar owners, bartenders, and building superintendents. He was a walking-talking switchboard of high and low connections. He didn’t want relatives to know he was driving a cab. It embarrassed him that his day job didn’t pay the rent. But one day he turned up in the newspaper because an out-of-town fare reported him to the New York World Telegram & Sun.

'An Angel Rides, Disguised as Cabbie,' by Gabriel Pressman [New York World Telegram & Sun, ca.1952-53]

New York World Telegram & Sun, ca.1952-’53

The New York World Telegram & Sun no longer exists. It folded in 1966. Gabe Pressman, who came to be known as the dean of the New York press corps, is still around. He turns 90 later this week.

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  1. Joan Herman says

    Yes, nobody in the family, as far as I remember, knew about it. It was a pretty big family! Along with your dad and mine there were 9 other siblings. I am shocked that any one of them could keep a secret. I remember him as always having a twinkling smile in his eyes and an impish grin on his face. I think very dearly of him mostly because he and my dad, though a few years older, were so much alike. Except for the age difference one could hardly tell them apart.

    What a beautiful article. Thanks