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June 28, 2014

Cab service is Norman’s safe ride

NORMAN — Norman ain’t New York City and Norman’s Yellow Cab is not like Taxi, the popular sitcom that featured drivers with broken dreams and lost opportunities. Driving a cab in Norman can be a great money-making opportunity, but the scope of the work has changed over the years.

One constant is that the university is still at the core of much of the local taxi business.

Sixty-eight years ago, Yellow Cab of Norman was started by Fred Sinnett.

“My daddy bought the company from Mrs. Smalley in 1946 when he came back from World War II,” said current owner and operator Clyda Teegerstrom. “He had operated in Stillwater before the war. He liked college towns. And then they opened the Navy base.”

As a little girl, Teegerstrom grew up around the cab company. She graduated from Norman High and the University of Oklahoma then moved away from Norman.

“I lived in Texas for 25 years then came back home in 1989 — I didn’t take over the company until it got where he (Sinnett) couldn’t do anything,” she said. “We had four cabs when I took it over in 2000 and we have grown.”

Back in the day, many families only had one vehicle.

“A lot of people rode cabs to work,” Teegerstrom said of the early days. “Some women rode cabs to the grocery store.”

The growth of Norman’s hospitality industry has contributed to the growth of cab services. In 1989 when Teegerstrom returned to Norman, she said there were six or seven hotels and motels in Norman. Now there are 29.

“That’s what Norman’s done, which is wonderful,” she said. “People staying in Norman often fly and use cabs.”

The university has also grown, and that affects business in a number of ways. One of the most obvious is the modern emphasis on not drinking and driving. The don’t drink and drive message is a big one for President David Boren and strongly encouraged at OU.

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