Just Asking: Isaiah Anderson, 88-year-old cabdriver


(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
Writer and editor August 20, 2014

Isaiah Anderson, 88, has driven for Capitol Cab since 1953. He lives in Mitchellville, Md., with his wife of 66 years, Mary.

If you were starting out today, would you want to be cabdriver?

Joe Heim joined The Post in 1999. He is currently a staff writer for the Metro section's Local Enterprise team. He also writes Just Asking, a weekly Q&A column in the Sunday magazine and is the paper's resident Downton Abbey expert. View Archive

No. I’d want to have a better job. Something more to my liking.

What would that be?

A doctor. That’s what I wanted to be. I was going to Howard and had two years there, and I was in ROTC. But my selective service called for me to be drafted. Drafted? I said, “You’re not supposed to draft me, because I’m in ROTC.” This man says, “You either come to us, or we’ll send the police after you.” Well, what could I do? I was about 19.

Do you feel bitter about that?

No. You just make the best of the situation.

Where did you serve in World War II?

We went to the Philippines. And then I went to Japan. When MacArthur signed the treaty, I was right there with him on the USS Missouri.

That’s amazing. And you also served in Korea?

I went to Korea, and I didn’t think I was coming back from Korea. So many of my friends got knocked off. Korea was rough, man. But God saw that I got back home, and I was glad to get back home.

Capitol Cab originated as a black-owned cab company.

Yes, but I didn’t start it. There were about 10 of us. Back then some of the other cab companies wouldn’t pick up black passengers. Matter of fact, I remember one time when I was a child and I was sick, and my mother wanted to take me to the hospital. And she had to take me to a neighbor, who was a black man, to take me. Because Yellow Cab and Diamond Cab wouldn’t take us.

Did you have other jobs when you were a cabdriver?

I was in the United States post office. My postal service duties were over around 2 o’clock. So when I got off work, I had a whole lot of time to do something. That’s how I got involved in the cab business.

Do you talk to most passengers?

Got to. It makes the trip shorter.

Have you met some interesting people?

Oh, yes. I had Joe DiMaggio in my cab. He was down here at the Statler hotel, and the bus that was going to carry him to Griffith Stadium had left him! When he told me what was happening, I got him there before the bus got there. He was a likable fellow.

Do you still enjoy driving your cab?

Let’s put it like this: It’s better than staying in the house and not doing anything.

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