The comedian Don Rickles used to have a joke – “Call me a taxi. OK, you are a taxi..” It was usually good for a few laughs. However, if you are in need of a taxi around these parts you are out of luck. All this reminds me of an incident that happened back in 1987 to my wife, Clara.
She was working at First National Bank at the time as a secretary. One day she received a telephone call from a computer company in Houston. It seems that Mr. Edward Clark, the owner of the bank, had decided that the bank needed a new computer system. The computer people were flying to San Augustine the next day in a private jet. They would be landing at the San Augustine airport, she reported. The conversation went something like this:
Clara: “Do you know what time your people will arrive? We will have someone meet them.”
Secretary: “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll get them a rental car at the airport.”
Clara: “But, we don’t have rental cars here.”
Secretary: “That’s ok, they can get a taxi to downtown.”
Clara: “Well, we don’t have any taxi service here.”
Secretary: (a pause while thinking) - Then the pilot can call the bank from the airport.
Clara: “Sorry, again, but there is not a telephone at the airport.”
Secretary: “Gosh, guess I’ll have to find out exactly what time to meet them.”
Clara: “That’s good, and I will have someone there early to shoo the cows off the runway so they can land.”
I can recall on several occasions in the early fifties having ridden in a taxi from down town to our home on Hwy 147 north. I believe the cost was about 25 cents. So, there was a taxi service at one time in the past.
The records show that in October of 1940, a new taxi service was opened in San Augustine. Mr. Maurice Armstrong and S. O. Hall opened a taxi service. The day office was phone 215, which was the Justice of Peace office. Apparently Mr. Armstrong was also the JP. The night phone number was 214, his residence.
In May of 1946, Mr. Dick Renfro purchased Armstrong taxi service, and began serving the city and county.
Records indicate that in 1947 Hall’s Taxi service was opened. They could be reached at phone number 282. The taxi office was located on the corner of Nay Carter’s service station. Tiller’s Tax Service is now located there.
In 1948 Mr. W. R. Pinkston opened up a taxi service, located in front of the Stripling Drug Store building. The phone number was 300.
Mr. Maurice Armstrong opened up the Yellow Cab Company in February of 1951 with three taxi cabs. They were located next to the White Auto Store. The phone number for a taxi was 2200. This undoubtedly was the taxi service that I used several times as a young teenager.
In 1953 Mr. Woodrow Thacker opened up a taxi service, located on the Miller Mathews corner, which is now Mills’ Hardware Company on the north side of the square. Their phone number was 2707. It would appear from the records that Mr. Thacker operated the last taxi service here, but they do not show when the business was closed down. I do know that there has not been a taxi service here in many years. Perhaps there is still a need for this and some enterprising individual will provide this service once again.
At one time in its history, the City of San Augustine had a city bus service. As a youngster, I can remember seeing a green bus making its rounds throughout the city.
In October of 1945, the city granted a two-year franchise for bus service to Mr. R. T. Nutt. A route was mapped out which guaranteed a round trip every thirty minutes. The bus started its route on the Bland Lake road in Sunset over to the prisoner of war camp north of town. This route included stops at all city schools, and all major intersections in downtown.
The route included Columbia Street from Sunset east of town to Livingston Street to the prison camp and Sunset. The cost of a ride was five cents. Mills-Brumer Grocery, one block north on the Center highway, advertised “The city bus stops at our store every thirty minutes”.
This bus service apparently was short lived. No further references past 1945 can be located.
Cell phones have replaced pay telephones, and we still don’t have rental cars or taxis at the airport. I am not sure about cows on the runway.