Brown, 62, cabdriver

E. A.

May 31, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Edmund Arthur Brown, a former city cabdriver and later a "hack" who alternately chauffeured passengers in his Cadillac or his rusted Pinto hatchback, died of heart failure Wednesday while living in Richmond, Va.

Mr. Brown, 62, lived in Baltimore until the early 1990s. He drove a cab for 10 years and hacked -- working as an unlicensed cabbie -- for more than 15 years.

His usual haunts for finding fares were the Lexington and Lafayette markets and some east-side supermarkets.

A short, heavyset man who usually wore a sweater and a tweed cap, Mr. Brown enjoyed driving and talking, and knew even the most obscure city streets.

"He was quite long-winded but not in a dull way," said Louise Barnes of Baltimore, a former neighbor and occasional passenger. "He knew which block intersected with certain streets. He knew the quickest way to get to [almost] anyplace in the city. He really knew how to maneuver that old Pinto."

Mr. Brown bought his yellow Ford Pinto new in 1971 and drove it until the late 1980s, putting more than 170,000 miles on it. He bought a used, sky-blue Cadillac in 1981 and kept it in perfect condition.

The Pinto, he told friends, was for weekday fares; the Cadillac was used on weekends, when he charged more.

"The Pinto looked like it was about 50 years old and was going to break down at any moment, and did often," Ms. Barnes said. "It had hangers and strings and paper clips holding it together, but they'd get broke, too. You would think he'd make more money if he drove a car people liked to ride in."

But Mr. Brown, who lived in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, refused to get rid of the Pinto, even when most of its parts failed, believing it might one day be a collector's item, friends said.

"When he moved, we had to have it towed away from here. Some classic car. The parts weren't even worth a case of sodas," Ms. Barnes said.

Born in Washington, Mr. Brown attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in the mid-1950s and came to Baltimore in 1960.

He worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp. for several years and in construction until 1966, when he began driving for Royal Cab Co.

He preferred late shifts, believing people would be less inclined to stand at bus stops after dark. He was robbed several times but wasn't deterred from entering high-crime areas to pick up or drop off a fare.

"Some cabbies make it point to avoid places. He didn't," said Jimmy Rowlands of Baltimore, who worked with Mr. Brown at Royal Cab. "He felt you can't discriminate against anybody because of where they live."

Mr. Brown married Yvette McNeil in 1951. They were divorced in 1969.

He is survived by two sons, Kenneth Brown of Baltimore and Jerome Brown of Richmond, and a grandson.

Services were held yesterday in Richmond.

Pub Date: 5/31/98

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