Abraham Simpson, 73, city cabdriver for 43 years

March 06, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Abraham "Smiley" Simpson knew the best spots to find a fare. He knew the right times to swing by the markets or shopping centers or bus stations. And the longtime Baltimore cabbie knew how to treat people "right nice" during the ride.

"He was good because he talked as much or little as the passenger wanted," said Bernard Johnson of Baltimore, a retired cabdriver and friend. "When he talked to you, he didn't just give you chitchat, he gave you intelligent conversation."

Mr. Simpson, 73, a Baltimore cabdriver for 43 years, died Monday of cancer at his Northwest Baltimore home.

From 1954 until last year, Mr. Simpson drove a cab, first for Diamond Cab Co. and later Arrow Cab Co. He drove part time during his tenure, but worked long days.

He had "seen it all" during his travels through the city, family and friends said.

He was robbed several times. He had fares run from his taxi without paying. Others tried to settle their fares with something other than cash.

But perhaps his most memorable days were when he rushed a pregnant woman to the hospital and another when a woman gave birth in his cab.

"He kind of saw her in his rearview mirror, knew something was going on and tried to go to the hospital but didn't make it on time," said his son, Abraham W. Simpson of Baltimore. "I don't think he ever forgot that."

A solidly built man, Mr. Simpson didn't hesitate to go to crime-ridden neighborhoods for fares, but he learned to size up passengers after he was robbed, and he didn't drive at night.

Friends and family said that one of Mr. Simpson's best assets was his knowledge of Baltimore -- he not only knew where most streets were, but which street each block intersected.

"People would call the house until about a week ago asking where a place is," his son said.

A native of Chester, S.C., Mr. Simpson came to Baltimore as a child and graduated from Carver Vocational Technical High School in the early 1940s.

He worked as a meatpacker at the old Albert Goetze Meat Co. in Northeast Baltimore from 1945 to 1977, when he began driving a bus for the Children's Guild School. He retired in 1985.

"He did all right with driving a cab. It was the self-employment aspect of it that he liked the most," his son said. "He liked interacting with people, but he liked working for himself most."

Mr. Simpson was also a tenpin bowler and bowled in leagues at Family Fun Center on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Pennsylvania Avenue AME Zion Church, 1128 Pennsylvania Ave.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, the former Florence Handy, whom he married in 1949; another son, Larry W. Owens of Baltimore; a sister, Sarah Pagan of Baltimore; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Pub Date: 3/06/98

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