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Service in a Flash: 1952

Columbus, Ga., circa 1952. "Radio Cab Co." A fleet of two-door taxis -- Ford Mainline Tudor Sedans. 4x5 negative from the News Archive. View full size.

Columbus, Ga., circa 1952. "Radio Cab Co." A fleet of two-door taxis -- Ford Mainline Tudor Sedans. 4x5 negative from the News Archive. View full size.


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The dealership was Hardaway Motor Company at 1541 1st Avenue, Columbus, Georgia.

In 1939 Strickland-Rogers Motor Company had a Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln-Zephyr dealership. Within a year the Ford dealership was split off and Hardaway Motor Company came into existence as 1216 - 1222 1st Avenue. This was previously Strickland's main location. Strickland continued at 1227 1st Avenue which was previously Strickland's used car lot.

Hardaway was Benjamin H. Hardaway, Jr. who also owned Hardaway Construction Company. By 1941 he had relocated Hardaway Motors to the 1541 1st Avenue location. By 1960 the president had beome Hardaway's son, Benjamin H. Hardaway III. The business continued at least into 1966.

Radio Daze

Ech. As a former Second Class Commercial Radiotelephone (now General Class) licensee, I've done many installs of remote-controlled, trunk-mounted radios. Not much fun, they could take two to four hours to complete and could be dirty work. The worst were dynamotor-powered hundred-watt units. Thank heaven solid-state radios soon replaced the tube-type boat anchors!

Radio in the trunk

In the first summer I ever worked as a cab driver (1977, age 19), I was hit from behind by a new driver (he looked 14, but had to have been at least 16), and he crumpled my rear end. I wasn't as freaked as he was (he literally could not speak, and so I gave his version of the story to the cop, who wrote it down!), but I was fairly frantic in repeatedly calling in the accident on the cab radio, frustrated by the lack of response from dispatch, until I realized the radio was disabled by the wrecked rear end.

Re: Bent Bumper

That vehicle just came in from Oakland, Calif.

Next stop, the radio shop

Installation of the 2-way radios would be a job of an FCC 2nd Class or 1st Class Radiotelephone license holder not the factory or dealer.

Even in the 60`s

As Zoreo commented the radios of the time were pretty cumbersome. I invested in a cabbing company in the 60`s in the UK (using Fords too!). Our PYE brand radio equipment had its box of tricks in the boot (or trunk if you prefer). In built up areas the range was limited, barely adequate, but was very useful.

A Big Investment

Base price of a 1952 Ford Tudor = $1629
Times 22 cars = $35,838
Adjusted for inflation = $321,791.43 in today's prices.

Lots of business

With a massive army base next door (Fort Benning with the Infantry School and paratrooper training) I'm sure they had a lot of business, especially on weekends. I took basic training at Fort Benning at the height of the Vietnam War, in old WWII wood barracks at Sand Hill that had been taken out of mothballs. Being a basic trainee, I never had the privilege of actually seeing Columbus!


Would be the right era, if new, for Motorola "Research" line radios.

Also, just a thought, perhaps this photo is a delivery shot from a nearby dealer/paint shop where the radios and antennas haven't been installed yet.

Regarding the radios

High-band VHF was available in 1952. Taxicabs were typically around 152-Mhz. A quarter-wave antenna for that frequency is thin and short, about 16 inches long and usually mounted in center of roof for best radiation pattern. The transceivers, being all-tube, were the size of a small suitcase and were located in the trunk with only the control console with mike and speaker on the dashboard inside.

Must have cost a fortune.

I counted 22 cars in that photo. All 1952 Fords equipped with two way radios. Add in the cost of a base station, dispatchers, etc. Even in 1954 dollars, the cost must have been astronomical.

[Those are 1952 Fords. - Dave]


A two-door taxi fleet would certainly keep the back-seat fares from leaping out and running away without paying, but otherwise the logic escapes me.

[Tudors cheaper than Fordors. - Dave]

Well, that. But it must have cost them dearly in the less-than-lithe rider market.


I'd like to see a picture of the two-way radios used back then.

Before solid state, and VHF they must have been low-band and would require fairly long aerials.


Being "Radio" dispatched, wouldn't these taxis all have aerials?

1st Ave and 16th Street

This is looking north toward the Southern Railroad (now Norfolk Southern) bridge, which then proceeds across the Chattahoochee River. This remained a car dealership until the late '90s, when everything for several blocks along 1st and 2nd Avenue was demolished to make way for a corporate campus.

Today the day-care facility for the company sits on this site.

Which season?

Are there two different seasons on opposite sides of the street? On the left the trees are bare, but on the right the leaves are all out.

[It's spring. When trees can come into leaf weeks apart, depending on the species. - Dave]

This must be a southern phenomenon with which this northern boy is unfamiliar. Up in Canada, trees come into leaf pretty much simultaneously, with a light green fuzz appearing overall, followed by full leaf. The autumn situation is more like this photo, where one tree can be bare of leaves while another is still full, albeit in glorious fall color.

[If it were early enough in autumn for the tree on the right to still be in leaf, there would be leaves all over the ground, and a few still in the big tree. - Dave]

Oh, I agree this is not fall. It's just a spring I'm not familiar with. The further south I go in life, the more disoriented I become.

Don't be like this guy

Notice how the cab with the bent bumper is parked all by itself.

Are there some other shots of this scene? I'm trying to figure out the name of the Ford dealer behind the cars - there's a Ford V8 emblem on the side of the building, and it looks like at least one on the front, and probably two, flanking the entrance.

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