Working in Paterson

African American Family Business in Paterson, New Jersey

Jiggetts Transportation

Jiggetts Transportation, like Bragg Funeral Home, started in a family residence. It was located in George and Martha's rented house on Twelfth Avenue. There were no two-way radios in taxis then, so a speaker was mounted on the Jiggettses' front porch, and when George would drive up and blow the horn, Martha would announce the next customer's address over the sound system. "Every hour in the day we were working," Martha recalls. Even the day she brought her baby daughter, Bobby, home from the hospital, "I worked from the bed, dispatching the cars." As a toddler, Bobby was baby-sat in taxis, and she learned to work the dispatch board by the age of seven. "She was brought up here. She was brought up from a baby into the business."

After saving enough money, the Jiggettses acquired more cabs and moved their operation to 28 Governor Street, "to do nothing but taxis," as George puts it. However, even without the business located in their living room, their home and work lives were forever linked. As a twenty-four-hour-a-day business, the taxi company was always on their minds. Often, George Jiggetts would awake from a dream about a business-related problem, go down to the shop, and put in some work time. For her part, Martha managed the house, drove and dispatched cabs, and spent her waking hours worried about the safety of the drivers. Fifty-two years later, with forty-seven employees and a fleet of taxis, vans, school buses, and charter buses at its current site on Washington Street, this family business, with its humble beginnings, has become an enormous success.


The Jiggetts inside a bus
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon George and Martha Jiggetts pose inside a bus.

Jiggetts at a desk, talking on the phone
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Martha Jiggetts dispatches a taxi to a client.

Jiggetts behind the wheel of a bus
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon George Jiggetts at the wheel of one of his school buses.