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By jack THORNE. /U.^>u^. 

Entered according to Act of Congress in the j^ear 1892^1 n the OfHce ^TM 
of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. D. C. 









(^\A*/ ^ 

To my esteemed friend, 


is this mile volume dedicated. 

lav. ^,»«.,<.,»^4f* 


I hope that the title of this little volume Avill 
not cause the reader to look for an arraignment of 
employee against employer, or that there is one word 
written here with the intention of in any way bringing 
into question the unsullied reputation of the great 
corporation, in whose employ the writer now is. 

These are a few of the many things seen and ex- 
perienced by a sleeping-car porter. There are, no 
doubt, many things which may not please the reader; 
nevertheless, rest assured there is nothing said that 
is among the impossible. 

The following will show that while the porter is 
dusting and wiping here and there, placing a pillow 
under the head of this one, and doing some similar 
favor for that one, a word spoken carelessly, and soon 
forgotten by the passenger, affords abundant food for 
thought for the porter. 

A little grain of wheat thrown carelessly upon the 
ground may often spring up and produce an hundred 

Bead it to the end. Perhaps your experience 
may not be unlike mine. Then, of course, you will 
appreciate, sympathize with, and perhaps be enter- 
tained by this* little book. 

If your experience has not been similar, there 

may be imparted some information. 

But if this little volume fails to interest, instruct, 
amuse, or entertain you, do not let your tongue wag 

so as to prejudice others, but pass it to the next. 

The Author. 



becolLlEctioks of a 

Sleeping Car Porter. 


^ The early Summer of 1888 found me doing 
service at the Eossmore (now Metropole) Hotel, corner 
Forty-second street and Broadway, New York City. 

My life up to this period had been quite an event- 
ful one; for I had been almost a year in this great city, 
drifting from place to place, looking for a permanent 
situation, which I found not. Those who were in 
that section of the country during the Spring of that 
year can imagine how a homeless wanderer suffered, 
and though at the time of which I write, I was in a 
fair paying position, I had become homesick. I had 
begun to feel as though I would like to gaze again 
into the eyes of that dearest and best of all women 
—my wife — of whom I had taken leave so uncere- 
moniously. Turn which way I would, the vision of 
the old, humble home was ever before my gaze, and 
that loving hand seemed to beckon, beckon, beckon. 
"For we watch and we wait, 
And we stand at the gate, 
While the shadows are piled, 
O ! Prodigal child! Come home." 


Go I must. Who could resist the entreaty ? But 
how ? Penniless ? I was indeed penniless, for though 
I had been in this flourishing city almost a year, my 
bank account was exceedingly small; too small to think 
of paying my fare home and back again, and -leave a 
small sum for the little wdfe beside. 

'' Why not join the Pullman service and then 
work your way home ?" said Will Avery, a young man 
for whom I had a warm regard, as we stood in the 
great dining room, one morning. " I am sure you can 
get on at this season." 

'' I have tried once," I said, still remembering 
the pitying look, of the man in charge, as he slowly 
shook his head. 

**But you did not apply at the right season, and 
perhaps not in proper form," persisted my friend. 
"A person might apply till doomsday and still be 
unsuccessful," said he. 

I shall never forget the way he posted me, wind- 
ing up by offering to wager a month's pay that I would 
be at work in less than three weeks' time. 

A few mornings afterward and I was again in the 
Pullman office, with brighter hopes. 

" Can you furnish yourself with a uniform ? " asked 
the chief clerk, as I laid my application on his desk. 
Answering in the affirmative, I was given an order on 
the tailor. Employed! It seemed so, as I was on my 
way to have a uniform made. 

Almost every one is familiar with a porter's outfit ; 
so why describe it? But not every one is familiar 
with his doings within his car. I'll confess that his 

inviting appearance while posing in front of liis car 
has a tendency to deceive. 

If the reader has ever been in a rolling mill and 
seen the great drops of sweat trickling down the faces 
of the operators as they trudged with great bars of 
iron and steel, he has an idea of the appearance of 
the Pullman porter when performing his most import- 
ant duty. A novice at the work will perspire freeW 
in January. I made my first trip in June; so draw 


Uniform completed, I reported for duty, expect- 
ing to be shown around and instructed in the various 
ways concerning the work before going on the road. 
But to my disappointment, they were short of men, 
and the following morning found me whirling toward 
Memphis, Tennessee, partner of one of the laziest 
porters that ever walked the floor of any car. I have 
not seen his equal for laziness. 

No man need think that he can disguise the fact 
that he is inexperienced. The greenest passenger will 
discover that. 

'- New man, ain't you, John?" asked a kindly-faced 
old man, as he noticed me trying to get the head-board 
in the wrong way. 

" Turn it the other way. There, that's right." 

This route to Memphis was by way of the 
Shenandoah Valley, of Virginia. 

What tongue can describe the loveliness of its 
scenery ! 

As far as the eye can penetrate, the lofty peaks 
of the Blue Ridge, covered with verdure, appear like 
great waves of living green, rolling onward till they 
seem to.blend into the horizon. 

'* Oh the fields of fair Juue 
Have no lack of sweet flowers," 


This valley is strewn with blossoms in Summer. 
But I had no time to enjoy its magnificence on this 
trip. My time was fully occupied filling and cleaning 
the lamps, dusting the window sills, assisting passen- 
gers on and off the car, and listening to the conductor 
and waiters' lectures as they sat in their seats and 
saw me attempt it all. 

The most difficult duty of the day was taking 
down, refilling and cleaning the lamps and replacing 
them while the train was in motion at the rate of 
thirty miles an hour over a crooked track. 

The passengers looked on in sympathy and pity, 

and this had a tendency to make the task seem less 

irksome. And the ladies' 

" Soft eyes did on me gaze, 
Burning, yet tender." 

as I descended the ladder, fearful lest I spill the oil 

on their dresses. This was, indeed, a tough trip. I 

trembled at the thought of making down a bed, and 

that trifling individual, the waiter, made one section 

for my instruction, and retired,! ordering me to call 

him at six o'clock. 

On our arrival at Jersey City at the conclusion of 
this, my first trip, the clerk nearly took my breath 
by ^assigning me to the same route, with the same porter 
and conductor. 

I was as mad as a " March hare," and somewhat 
discouraged, yet I determined to succeed. 

I returned from this trip more fatigued and des- 
pondent than ever, and with a full determination to give 
up the whole business. But I was destined to see 
more of the checkered life of a car service man. 


By request I was sent to Florida by, way of tlie 
Atlantic Coast Line, and this change threw me into 
contact with a different set of men., — good and consid- 
erate conductors and waiters. This furnished the 
long-wished-for opportunity of visiting the dear old 
home, if only for a short while. Home ! "Who is elo- 
quent enough to express its true meaning ! 

Leaving New York on the 9:15 evening train, we 
arrived at Washington the following morning, and at 
half-past eleven o*clock were speeding southward like 
an arrow to its mark. 

Homeward bound ! How my heart leaped as the 
distance between me and loved ones lessened. With- 
in those few hours that intervened it seemed that I 
lived the past days of my life over again. Days of 
childhood came "trooping up the misty ways." My 
wife stood before me, clothed in the innocence of 
childhood, with not a trace of sorrow or care upon 
her pure brow. I heard the clang of the school bell, 
and shouted with the children at play. 

I was awakened from my dream by the long, shrill 
whistle of the engine, announcing some station, and 
looking out, the familiar scenes met my gaze, for in 
truth / luas at home. The train thundered into the de- 
pot, and in a few moments I was face to face with my 
wife, for there she stood awaiting me. I pressed her 


to my bosom and kissed away the burning tears of 


Short, sweet bliss ! Fain would I have lingered, 
but I could not. My time was limited ; I could only 
hold her a short while, ask a few questions and leave 

Where is she now, do you ask? I have taken 
her long ago from her home of flowers to a land of 
snow and ice^ and there in a downy nest she awaits 
my coming. 

For every two, three or five days, I stand face to 
face with my wife. 


Many a porter has joiued this great company more 
for the opportunity of shifting from place to place 
and seeing with the naked eye the different portions 
of country so often read of, than for any other pur- 

While this was not my chief object, those things 
have not been passed by unheeded. 

I have stood upon the shores of the Great Lakes^ 
gazed upon the placid waters of the Gulf, thrown peb- 
bles upon the bosom of the Mississippi, gathered 
fruit from the orange trees of Florida, and as the train 
moved onward, taken in with the eye interesting por- 
tions of the country round about. 

This business gives the employee not only an 
opportunity of seeing the country, but of coming in 
contact with the people, who differ very materially. 
This position makes one an expert in the study of 

An experienced porter can often look his passen- 
gers over, and very readily tell whether he or she is 
Northerner, Southerner, Easterner or Westerner, ill- 
bred or well-bred. But it is not so easy to tell how 
large a tip an individual will give. Therefore, the good 
porter will treat all passengers civilly, lest he mistake 
an angel for a devil. I had a Mississippian to give 
me twenty-five cents for polishing his and liis son's 


boots and warming the baby's milk over night. Some 
require little attention, while others require much, and 
in my opinion the most tedious and yet the most 
uncivil are people of the South and Southwest, where 
there is such limited consideration of the black citizen- 
These people are the embodiment of the old doctrine, 
'^A negro has no rights that a lohite man is bound to re- 
spect:' It is " Major," " General," " Colonel," if you 
please, with a twitch of the cap and duck of the head. 
And if there is a dime about his august person, the 
porter will likely get it. 

Passengers boarding trains going to or from New 
York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg or Chicago, are the most 
liberal and polished of Pullman patrons ; those from 
Pittsburg taking the lead. The weary and dust-cov- 
ered porter, journeying eastward from St. Louis or 
cities further West, looks with longing eyes toward this, 
the great business centre andiron manufacturing city. 
No car goes eastward from this point without a fair 
load of good passengers, whose destination is Philadel- 
phia or New York. Even the ladies find their pocket- 
books, and stand forth, money in hand, to be brushed, 
at the end of their trip. Two-thirds of all passengers 
boarding trains at New York or Philadelphia for the 
West, or at Chicago, Cincinnati or St. Louis for the 
East, get off at Pittsburg. Unlike people from the 
South or Southwest, it takes but little ceremony on the 
part of the car-service men to please them, and they 
know and appreciate good service. Of course all 
rules have their exceptions. 

The most polite and polished individual on a 


Pullman car is a Bostonian. His language is so per- 
fect and precise, and he can find fault with such a 
flow of eloquence, that would do credit to a Cicero. 
Black his boots over night, brush him in the morning, 
carry out his luggage, and he will " thank you kindly," 
as though he knew that " thank you " were sufficient 
to support one's family. I have had as many as 
twenty of them to pass out and wish me a '* Good 
day," as though I did not know it. 

Then there are passengers who attract consider- 
able interest and comment, such as Presidents, Gover- 
nors, Senators, and the foreign nobility. But the 
most interesting individual that enters a sleeping car 
is the colored passenger. As this person enters the 
car and passes to his seat, the hum of conversation is 
hushed, and all eyes turn and stare as though some- 
thing unheard-of had happened. If this passenger 
be a lady, the attention is the more marked. Every 
move or turn of the head is noted with close scrutiny. 

When Mr. Wilson, Surveyor-General of Louisiana, 
was on his way from Washington to New Orleans, in 
company with his little daughter, two women in the 
opposite section allowed their curiosity to make them 
ridiculous. For, though they could readily tell that 
he was a colored man, the child puzzled them. So 
they gazed and whispered and craned their necks till 
the train reached Salisbury, North Carolina, when 
Mr. Wilson changed cars for New Orleans. 

An old gentleman boarded the west-bound train 
one afternoon in Jersey City, in company with a young 
lady, apparently about twenty-two. " What a beauty !" 


said the porter next to me. *' Father and daughter," 
said I. They took passage on niy car, and I soon 
learned that they were husband and wife, returning to 
their home in Nashville, Tennessee, from a few weeks' 
stay in New York City. The lady was exceedingly 
handsome, tall, lithe of figure, dignified in bearing, 
with a grace of manner a princess might covet. Her 
face was dark and well proportioned, eyes black and 
round, with silken lashes, hands small and aristocratic. 
As this couple passed through the train to the dining 
car, eyes fastened upon books and papers turned to 
look, not on them, but upon her, I looked upon the 
gentleman, I fear, a little enviously, for surely he had 
won a treasure. As they were with us more than 
seven hundred miles, I had an opportunity of con- 
versing with them, which I did not fail to improve. 
At Cincinnati we shook hands and parted. But in 
my thoughts I followed them till I sat with them in 
their lovely home in Nashville. It is ever thus with 
the porter. He flits from city to city, and from State 
to State. He meets with and parts friendly with 
strangers. With some he wishes to linger, but time 
will not permit. Upon one face, perhaps, among hun- 
dreds, his memory turns. One voice, though blended 
with others, rings on and on like distant chimes of 
bells. He feels the pressure of one hand longer than 
that of others, when good-byes are said for the first 
and last time. I have sat in church, book in hand, 
in St. Louis, on Sunday, and roamed the noisy streets 
of Chicago the next. In this checkered life of 
the porter, there are many things that suggest 


the humorous as well as the tragic and ridiculous. 

First on this roll is the kicker, (and he is legion), 
who stalks into the car with the air of one who knows 
it all, throws his luggage into another section, and 
looks around for something of which to complain. 
Either the car is too hot or too cold, or the crew is 
incompetent. On retiring, he gives orders that he be 
called in the morning just in time, not too early or 
too late, but just time enough to finish his toilet and 
step off as the train slows up, and the porter is about 
to brush off and collect. 

Then there is the talkative passenger,who delights 
to bore the porter. "Do you often have accidents? 
Would a passenger be safe in the sleeper ? "Where do 
we breakfast ? How many minutes are given ? Do they 
furnish a good meal? How much is charged?" etc. 

Going into Chicago one morning a Jew approached 
me and said, "I say, porter, how far you go?" "To 
Chicago, sir." " Tou don'd go no fudder? " "No, sir." 
" Gid a good breakfast in Chicago ?" " Yes sir." " Good 
breakfas', eh?" "Tes sir." "How long you stob in 
Chicago?" " Until night, sir." To-nighd, eh? "Tou 
don'd ged much sleep, do you, porder?" "No, sir." 
With this he let me pass. Jews are diligent seekers 
after information, but they seldom forget the porter. 

The ignorant passenger — one who is not in the 
habit of taking Pullman car accommodations, is more 
amusing than troublesome. Leaving New Orleans 
one night, a tall Mississippian, under a slouch hat, 
his trousers stuffed into his boots, entered the car and 
bought a berth. Evidently he had never been in one 


before, for he sat in his seat and gazed stupidly about, 
like one out of his sphere. When the time for retir- 
ing came, and his bed had been made, he turned to the 
porter and said, ''Look here, how do you shuck yer 
duds to git in them things ?" Without waiting for a 
reply, he arose and bolted for the door. He was gone 
about ten minutes, when the door suddenly opened 
and a voice said, ''Look out, ye uns in dar, for Ise a 
comin'." It was the man from Mississippi. He had 
gone on the platform to disrobe, and with his pants 
in one hand and his boots in the other, made a rush 
for his bed, poked his head out, shook it knowingly at 
the astonished passengers, and said, " Ole Mississippi's 
slow 'bout gitting thar, but she gitsthar jis the same." 


Standing in front of my car one night at Savannah, 
Georgia, a passenger from the coach approached me 
and said, " I say, Uncle, is that what ye call a sleepin' 
kyar?" "Yes," said I. "Wall, hit is alius bin a puzzle 
ter me how ye make them bunks inthar." 

I invited him in and let down a berth before his 
astonished eyes, and endeavoured to show him the 
" modus operandi," "Wal, I be dast," said he, " If 
my Sal could see that she'd jis die wid de laf. Thankee 
Uncle," and with that he passed out. 

We had slowed up at Morristown, Tennessee? 
one morning, when an old gentlemen and his wife 
started to board the sleeper. Knowing that the 
sleeper is often taken for the " Fuss class" on the 
East Tennessee Eoad, I said " Sleeping car, sir ?" He 
turned to his wife and said, " What'd he say ?" " I 
dunno; what'd ye say, Mister ? " " This is a sleeping 
car; do you wish to ride?" " Oh, no; I don't want no 
sleeping kyar," said he, " I've got a fuss class ticket 
here, and I'm going to ride fuss class," " That's your 
car," said I, pointing to the coach. 

Leaving Altoona, Pa., early one morning, I passed 
to the rear or ladies' end of the car, to look after 
the fire. And there, with his hands crossed behind 
him, with the dignified air of a " Dead Head," stood a 
tramp. " What are you doing here ? " I asked. "Look- 


ing over the road," he answered, without turning his 
head. '' What can you see on the road at night ? " 
*' De lights, of course," said he. " These fellers have 
not been attending to duty of late at these signal tow- 
ers, and I thought I'd see if I could catch 'em nappin'." 
''Oh, come off!" said I, laying my hand upon his 
shoulder. "You want to get down." '' Wal, ye see, 
pard, " said he, " I got tired ridin' the flats and trucks, 
yer know, and thought I'd try fuss class fer a spell. 
But I think I'll change here. This car has a flat 
wheel." And as the train slowed up at the foot of the 
mountain he got down. 

Then there are sudden partings, such as press 
the life from out of young hearts (old ones, also) and 
sighs which may not here be repeated. 

We can never tell who is going until the train is 
about ready to start. Mother, father, sister, brother, 
friends, all gather around the departing one, and with 
kisses, tears and sobs on the part of the women, and 
hearty handshakes of the men, the train moves out, 

''Write, write, write; don't fail." " Porter, look after 
my wife." " Porter, look after my mother and see that 
she gets every attention," is often said. See the bride 
as she blushes beneath the shower of rice thrown by 
loved ones as the train moves out. 

Then, there is the rollicking school-girl, the calm 
and sedate priest, the scheming lawyer, the dignified 
politician. All go to make up the surging mass of hu- 
manity, that lay calmly down to sleep beneath the 
watchful eye of the porter. 

Just before the south-bound train No. 23 pulled 


out of the Pennsylvania Station in Jersey City, one 
night, a lady passenger approached me and said : 
'' Porter, I am traveling alone. Help me to look after 
my child. In plain words, take care of us, and you 
shall be rewarded." I promised, but I tell you what, 
she and that baby led me a mighty chase all the next 
day, and part of another. 

"I put myself in your hands," she said in starting; 
and she did it to the letter. I fixed -the milk, buttoned 
on the little shoes, and, in fact, was general-in-chief of 
the nursery. Why, she would go to sleep and leave 
the little fellow for me to follow his tottering foot- 
steps, from one end of the car to the other. Hard 
job, but I had sworn. At Savannah, Ga., she left the 
car, for she was at home. And oh, it was a happy part- 
ing. I received my *' tip " with uncovered head, and 
wished her long life. During the Winter season, hosts 
of care-worn souls speed southward, some seeking 
rest and recreation, but the majority seeking — health. 

It is either wife or husband, mother, sister or 
son, whose hacking cough and sunken eyes bespeak 
the anguish of the sufferer. 

I saw a mother hastening to her son, who had 
written : " If you were with me, I think I'd get better." 
A few trips afterward, a rude box was placed in the 
baggage car of the north-bound train, and the mother 
with sadly bowed head, approached the car. The box 
told the story. The son was "better," for he had 
found the Summer of eternal rest. So it is ; some re- 
turn improved, others in their coffins. 

" Yet still she's weeping, 
Her lone watch keeping." 


Going south by the way of the Atlantic Coast 
Line, the route passes through several States, the 
scenery of which is most beautiful and inte;:-esting. 
But nothing shows up to amuse the passenger until 
the Carolina border is reached. 

Passing through the Carolinas, the trains are be- 
sieged at every station by rough-looking youngsters, 
who are willing to cut up most any kind of caper for 
a nickel, dime or penny. 

'' Stand on me head for a cint, boss." " Throw 
out a nickel for a scramblance, boss." Or, at a given 
signal, one or two of them will '' stand on me head," 
their feet spread upward like well-smoked North 
Carolina hams. 

At Charleston, the climax is reached. Here the 
train is besieged by a host of rough-looking mokes, 
armed with old tambourines, mouth organs, etc., with 
" Hallelujah chorus " thrown in. For fully twenty 
minutes, they make the day hideous, while grease-be- 
smeared mothers stand in the background and shake 
with delight. 

Unlike those further North, who are always ready 
to " Stand on me head for a cint," these are willing to 
'' Sing one song for yer, boss, ' Annie Eooney dress so 
fine,' ' Pull fur de sho,' " etc., while all eyes are fastened 
upon the audience, ready to pounce upon the coin 


when it drops. Often the leader of the chorus brings 
the song to a sudden termination by bounding into the 
air, eager to get the money before it touches the 
ground. Strange to say, that after leaving the Caro- 
lina border, not a single boy shows up to make faces^ 
or dance, etc. 

The only remaining feature is the tendency of 
the people to gaze at the passing train. And this is 
the case everywhere. It matters not how often a train 
passes, all work in the house, in the office, in the field ^ 
in the workshop ceases, and all hands rush out. The 
housewife forgets her cares ; the idle girl her novel ; 
the cook her kettles and pots. And old and young 
alike will put on their best looks. The maiden, if 
there is time, will stop and refix her hair and put on 
some attractive little wrap or shawl. The old dame 
will readjust her spectacles. The kitchen maid will 
roll down her sleeves and bring her snuff brush into a 
more prominent position, while often the mistress 
holds hers in her hand, as though in the act of " dip- 
ping." The dog bristles up and look wise. Every- 
body gets to the front and poses as if expecting to be 

Going West and Northwest there is more to in- 
terest and instruct the observer. 

Between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, on the 
great Pennsylvania Railroad, the most beautiful 
scenery presents itself. Here the wealthy Philadel- 
phian has built his magnificent retreat. Cottages of 
ancient and modern architecture, built of brick, wood, 
or stone, surrounded by well kept lawns, present a 
picture simply dazzling. 


This stone, quarried in the State of Pennsylvania, 
is of a lovely bluish tint, giving the buildings a rare 
and rich appearance. 

Leaving Harrisburg behind us, we plunge into the 
Alleghany Mountains. The lofty peaks, like sentinels, 
look down upon the trains. ''Where is the Horseshoe 
Bend?" is often asked. 

About fourteen miles west of Altoona, we come 
into this famous curve, which is just the shape of a 
great horseshoe. Rounding this curve, the train 
climbs upward until from near the top of the mount- 
ain we see, 

" The awful ^loom beneath us, 
Like a pathway down to hell." 

Nearing Pittsburg, we pass through a portion of 
the mining regions of Pennslyvania, where the fire and 
smoke from coke ovens, " ascendeth upward, day and 
night. " 

"Pittsburg! Twenty minutes ! Out this way." We 
have reached the great smoky city, with its iron mills 
and natural gas. 

After a pause of twenty minutes for refreshments, 
the train moves on, through tunnels and over moun- 
tains, until we gaze upon the wide extended plains of 
Ohio, the richest farming State in the Union. .Passing 
through Indiana, we find the same level country. And 
when the border of Illinois is reached, we are in the 
Western Metropolis, Chicago. Here the porter bids 
adieu to his passengers and turns his face Eastward. 

But he fain would linger here. Stroll, perhaps, 


toward Lincoln Park, and gaze upon the blue waters 
of Lake Michigan, or visit some of the many places of 
amusement or entertainment this magic city aftbrds. 
Unlike New York, Chicago opens many avenues of ad- 
vancement to the colored citizen. He is not shut out 
of the fine hotels and cafes as being unfit for service, 
for most of the leading hotels employ colored help. 
He has a hand in many things that the average 'New 
Yorker would think too good for him. He is police- 
man, detective, mail carrier, clerk, merchant, news- 
dealer or fireman. It would do one good to see the 
laddies respond to the call of fire. Black men own 
saloons and restaurants, the fixtures and furniture 
alone costing hundreds of dollars. No man need say 
that he can not get a good sirloin or porterhouse steak, 
properly served, without going to a white man's cafe. 
The black citizen has a chance to do work here 
that in New York would be given to the Italian or the 
'' Turk. " 


Speaking again of beautiful scenery, I would say 
that next to Shenandoah Valley, of Virginia, that of 
Western North Carolina is the most interesting. A 
branch of the Kichmond and Danville Eailroad, which 
runs through this region, is most complicated in its 

One can scarcely tell over which portion of the 
road the train has passed or will pass, as he sees it 
winding far above or beneath him, seemingly going in 
an opposite direction to which he is going. Taller 
than any east of the Eockies, the mountains present 
an awful, gloomy, and yet grand appearance, as they 
tower above the clouds. Just before reaching Eound 
Knob, going West, a close observer will see a little 
white cross, away up on a small peak. Why it was put 
there I am unable to say, yet the sight fills one's soul 
with emotion. 

Looking westward from Asheville, ** Mt. Pisgah's 
lofty height " heaves into view, basking in the last 
rays of the setting sun. Asheville, which is right in 
these mountains, is quite an interesting little city, 
being both a Winter and a Summer resort, and also 
having some very nice and beautifully situated hotels, 
Kenilworth Inn and Battery Park being the leading. 
To a person standing upon the neighboring mountains, 
Asheville would appear to be in a valley. 


Once, in company with a friend of mine, we climbed 
up, she holding on to my cane, while I caught hold of 
twig after twig, until we stood above the clouds and 
gazed upon the sleeping city below. As we stood 
there, inhaling the morning air, the song of the 
mountaineers came fresh to my mind, 

" We are watchers of a beacon 
Whose light can never die ; 
We are guardians of an altar 
Mid the silence of the sky." 

In striking contrast to the surroundings, the 
people of the rural districts of this section are the 

most ignorant and stupid it has been my lot to 

Women stand about their cabins with a look of 
stupidity that would make a savage blush. Stanley 
could find abundant material here for a book as inter- 
esting as "Darkest Africa," among his own people. 
Let those who are chafing about Russian cruelties and 
the horrors of Siberia visit the convict mines of East 
Tennessee. Unlike prisons of the North, and West, 
the chief object of which is to make the prisoner 
better, these have a tendency to degrade and crush 
out all the noble attributes that are resident in the 
victim. For he that has committed a trivial offense is 
worked beside the thief, the burglar, the murderer. 
Then again, a long term of service in these mines and 
on the convict farms of other States as well, leaves the 
person physically and mentally a wreck, unfit to pursue 
a legitimate calling, were he so inclined. Can Siberia 
do worse ? 


The next city at which we arrive on this route, 
after leaving Asheville, N. C, going West, is Knox- 
ville, Tennessee. But I would ask the reader to 
pass on with me over the East Tennessee Railroad to 
Chattanooga, which nestles like an infant at the foot 
of Lookout Mountain, where '' Fighting Joe Hooker " 
immortalized his name above the clouds. Leaving 
Chattanooga, over the Cincinnati, New Orleans and 
Texas Pacific, we move on southward until the distant 
towers of the grand old city of New Orleans rise 
plainly to view. We will linger awhile here, for un- 
like other Southern towns. New Orleans has a de- 
lightfully fascinating effect upon me, and others, j)er- 
haps, have felt the same. To hear the people, both 
white and black, conversing in French, makes one feel 
as though he were in another country. It is my de- 
light to stand about the wharves and witness the 
loading and unloading of the great steamers that 
plow the waters of the Mississippi, and to listen to 
the peculiar '' jabber " of the workmen, or stroll 
through the old French Market, where Indians are 
often seen squatting about in twos or threes, selling 
barks and herbs. I have often taken my meals in 
this market, to save the trouble of looking for a 
boarding-house. Here the '' Chef, " with a big mus- 
tache, presides over long, clean tables, with little stools 
in front of them. I never saw catfish served in 
so many styles as in this place. It is fried catfish, baked 
catfish, stewed catfish. Just give your order. I did 
not believe that this monster scavenger of the rivers 
could possibly get so popular. 


Leaving the market, with its filthy surroundings, 
going eastward, one is soon amid the jostling throng 
on Canal street, the Broadway of New Orleans, where 
the show-windows are ablaze with finery of every de- 
scription. St. Charles comes first as the avenue of 
fine private residences, after the prevailing Southern 
style, with wide verandas and beautiful, well-kept 
flower gardens in front. The streets in this section 
of the city are paved with asphalt, and are very clean. 
Here the porter would fain stroll on a balmy summer 
eve, or within some cheerfully lighted hall, with the 
beautiful creole belles, . chase the hours away with 
flying feet, and in the morning, as the city fades from 
view, wish for another trip to New Orleans. 

If one should leave the city by another route, the 
great Louisville and Nashville road, which goes di- 
rect to Cincinnati, Ohio, he would pass through Mobile, 
Montgomery, and Birmingham, Ala., the future leading 
city of the South. But the porter m\ist be alwaj^s on 
his guard as he passes through this section of country. 
Perhaps at Bay St. Louis, or some other way station, 
" General," '' Colonel, "Major," A or B, will honor us 
with his presence. I have had aboard as many as half 
a score of these dignitaries. These men have more 
brains than money. But when it comes to sounding 
the praise of the *'Blue Bloods," and giving the good- 
for-nothing ''nigger" his dues, the choice vein of the 
conversation has been touched. They rattle away for 
hours on this theme, regardless of your presence. 


Standing in front of the smoking room of my car one 
day, I heard the following : 

" Gen'al, have you heard of the move in Jackson- 
ville, Florida, to have the appointment of the City 
Council given to the Legislature ? " *' I have, Kurnel, 
an' it's a good move. It's the only way to get the up- 
per hand of the nigger. Porter give me a glass of 
water. I like a nigger in his place, but when it 
comes to holding office side a white man, I'fn pint 
blank against it. Porter give me a match." So thej^ 
went on, as regardless of my presence as if I had been 
a dummy, to be wound up and set in motion at will. 
Why, one of these fellows would stand on my foot a 
half hour, and never think of apologizing. These peo- 
ple are continually regretting the state of things and 
chafing because the good old polite " mammies " and 
''uncles" are getting fewer, and in their stead are half- 
educated " black rascals," who think themselves as 
good as a " white man." 

The gall of these people is simply astonishing. 
Why should not one man feel himself as good as an- 
other, when he can see in that other no superior qual- 
ites ? Into what channel shouldmy thoughts naturally 
go ? Answer one of them direct and to the point, and 
he will call you an impertinent " nigger." Hold your 
hat in your hand and say, *'Yes, sah; yes sah!" to every- 
thing he says, and he will say, " Smart boy that. John, 
where were you raised? Who was your master?" 
In listening to their conversation, I found that these 
people are always looking at the dark side, and 


contiuually harping on the unworthiness of others. 
Like the old '' mammy " and '* uncle," old master is 
tottering toward the setting snn. The nimble and 
elastic step has given place to the slow and un- 
certain gait, and as he nears the " brink and shoal of 
time," he casts one long, lingering look behind, and 
like the dying Antony, seizes his falchion, makes a 
pass in the dark, and expires. The property owned 
by the»e citizens has passed into the hand of strangers. 
I venture to say that nearly all of the desirable prop- 
perty in most southern cities is owned by Germans 
and JewSy people once despised. I have in mind a Ger- 
man, in the town in w^hich I was raised, worth at least 
a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, who before the 
war was publicly cowhided on the streets by a man 
who to-day would gladly become his clerk. Thus the 
native Southern white allows that which is desirable 
to pass into the hands of " Yankees " and foreigners, 
while his mind is centered upon one thing, '' keeping 
the nigger in his place." Then, there is another class, 
called '' crackers,'' who deserve more than a passing 
thought. At every way station clusters of them are 
seen sitting about on boxes and barrels, whittling 
sticks. They go to make up the '" Vigilance Com- 
mittee,'' and usually tie the rope and lead the victim 
to the tree. Let the porter be careful how he steps 
out, for to tread on one's toes would likely touch a 
button that would set the whole ground in motion. 
These cowards, murderers and drinkers of blood are 
not foreigners, they are all born Americans. (?) You 


could not find a Turk or Arab that would keep them 
company. They hate the colored man. If he is 
smartly dressed the aversion is the more intense. 
^' Putting on airs. That nigger wants to be brought 
down a button hole lower." 

A fellow porter once told me of a young man who 
went down from Boston to visit friends in Georgia. 
Securing a horse, one day, he rode a little way into 
the country. Reining up in front of a "• cracker's " 
cabin, he engaged some girls who were passing in 
conversation. A woman sitting in the door heard his 
Boston pronunciation, and called her husband: ''John! 
O, John! come here. Look at the nigger knee deep in 
cowskin, persumin', by G — d." He had his trowsers 
stuffed into his boot-tops. 

These people, brave and fearless as they are 
thought to be, are cowards. There is not one of them 
who would stand up and fight " on the square," unless 
he's got his gun, or is sure of assistance. Fifty of 
them will swarm down like bees upon one man. I 
have seen bootblacks in New York get into a dispute 
over some trifle, take off their jackets and fight it out, 
the defeated one taking his punishment in true Irish 
style. Not so with these fellows. Give one a thrash- 
ing and he will muster his family together, surround 
your house at night, and kill you. 

As the north bound train slowed up at Kome,Ga., 
one day two years ago, a young man well known to 
me, came into my car trembling with fear, and begged 
piteously to be taken home. He said that he was 


standing at the bnftet door. The train conductor 
passed by and said: '' Have you the tickets ? " " No, I 
have not." '' No, No 1 " '' Is that the way you answer 
a white man?" ''Beg your pardon, sir; no intentional 
insult." The conductor said no more, but passed on 
into the train. The porter thought it was all over, 
but not so. The conductor soon returned, in company 
with the baggageman and brakeman, all armed, one 
with a pistol, one with a huge knife, and the other, the 
poker. They found the porter dusting out the rear 
end of his car. Placing the pistol against the poor 
fellow's head, while his companions made threatening- 
motions, the leader said : '' We came back here to kill 
you, you nigger!" The porter yelled "Murder! 
Help!" This aroused the waiter and Pullman conduc- 
tor, who were standing on the rear platform. They 
rushed in and found the poor wretch begging for his 
life, and persuaded his tormentors to desist. As 
they departed, the train conductor said, with an 
oath : " If you didn't look so innocent, I'd kill you. 
Don't you see that my face is white ? " 

When you answer a white man, you should say, 
" yes, sir. " Coward! with not manhood enough to 
tackle that boy without help. You say it was a joke ? 
I say no, for if it had not been for the timely inter- 
ference of the other Pullman men, they would have 
murdered him, thrown him from the train, and reported 
it self defense. The papers always explain such oc- 
currances as '^ desperate negro ! Plucky conductor!''' If 
a black man is slain, he is a desperado, while his slayer, 


if white, is a descendant of Lord Baltimore, acting in 
self defense. I copy from the Courier Journal, of 
Louisville, Ky., the following : 


Lexington, Dec. 24th. 

About ten o'clock to-night, Albert Harris, a big 
mulatto farm hand, was drinking in Martin's saloon 
on Limestone street. He got into a squabble with 
the bartender, Eobt. Griffin, and invited him outside, 
saying he would whip him. Griffin was no match for 
the big negro, but went out in front of the house, and 
when Harris started for him, he drew his pistol and 
fired. The bullet struck the negro in the mouth, and 
he fell dead on the pavement. Griffin went home, 
where he was arrested a half hour later. The prisoner 
refused to talk, further than to say he acted in self 

That is what they call chivalry. 

'' Go South, young man," I emphasize the words. 
Here the assassin can play his part in peace and the 
murderer goes out on hail. The regulator returns from 
his raids, wipes his bloody hands upon the door of 
the church, enters and prays, thanking God that a 
nigger had been killed. 

There is no place where people lay so much stress 
upon the word " white " as in the United States, es- 
pecially in this section. The drunken tramp stalks past 
the professor of Greek and occupies the choice seat. 
The Italian, the Turk, the Pole, the Chinaman, the 
barbarian, soon learns, after being "imported," that 
there is a certain American citizen who has no rights 


he should respect. A few days ago, a tall, handsome 
Englishman boarded the northbound train at Ashe ville, 
N. C. He did not take passage in the sleeper, but we 
had with us a lady whom he had met. So at intervals 
he would come in and chat awhile with her. He was, 
I thought, very manly. " Beg pardon, sir, hope I do 
not intrude," he said, once or twice in passing. Just 
before arriving at Salisbury, some fellows, from a 
mistaken idea of hospitality, got hold of our English- 
man and filled him with "Mountain Dew." They 
made him believe that the best and safest place for 
his many bags and bundles was in the sleeper. So 
they brought the whole camping outfit, dumped it in 
front of the drawing room and disappeared as silently 
a Arabs, for neither of us could tell who put it there. 
At Salisbury we waited, expecting some passenger to 
" show up," identify his baggage and secure his berth, 
but no one came. At Greenesboro, up comes our Eng- 
lishman and his friend, as happy as larks. Then we 
learned to whom the baggage belonged. " Cap'n," said 
the American, " here's a frien' o' mine goin' to New 
York. His baggage is in your kyar an' I hope you will 
see to him. " 

*^ Yes, chappie," said the Englishman, have me 
check in me haun'. " Jis give them to the Cap'n," 
said the other, " an' you'll be all right." " Now, chap- 
pie, you must u^iderstand that an Englishman knows 
his business, and is not a fool. I hope I've not insulted 
you, Cap. ; good night," and the Englishman was 
minus his friend. The conductor having also disap- 


peared, his ''Lordship" turned to me and said: "I 
say, chappie, what time does the Inman steamer sail ? " 
''I can't tell you, sir." ''Are you an imbecile? Are 
you so simple that you cawnt give a man an answer?" 
" Do you wish a berth, sir ? " " No, I don't want a 
berth ? " " Well, you will have to get down ; you are 
disturbing others." " Well, I'd like to see you put me 
down. It has come to a poor paas when a English- 
man has to be insulted by a d — d dawky. A black 
nagur orders me off the car." Just then the conduc- 
tor came to my relief, and told "milord" that he 
would have to take charge of his own baggage. It 
was just my delight to drag it out. I piled it at his 
feet, and the train pulled out and left him standing 
there. Our gallant, and polite gentleman, of a few 
hours previous, was using language of which I thought 
him incapable. At Rome, we do as the Romans. In 
the '' Merchant of Venice," Shylock turns to his tor- 
mentors and says : " Hath not a Jew eyes ? Hath not 
a Jew ears, feelings, propensities ? If you prick us, 
do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? 
If you wrong us, shall we not revenge ? " I ask and 
answer you on the part of the colored citizen. All 
these will he do, but the last, revenge. For when he 
considers the strength of the oppressing force, he 
bows his head in humble submission. Is he wise ? 
I answer, yes ; for by this he keeps the spear out of 
his side, while he builds for himself a structure that 
shall stand to the end of time. 


When Deborah, the Prophetess, sang the song of 
triumph, Israel had been in bondage twenty years, 
during which ''not a sword nor a spear could be found 
in all the land." 

These people are without a " sword or a spear,' 
yet now and then we hear of some Samson or Gideon 
or Barak who dares strike a blow for freedom. 

There rode out of Atlanta some time ago a band 
of mounted men in quest of sport. They halted at the 
first cabin they came to, and calling out the only in- 
mate, an old colored man, they loliipped him, only 
letting up when they saw the blood spurting from his 
wounds. At the next cabin they met with some re- 
sistance. For the knight of that castle, hearing the 
tramping of horses' feet, scented danger, and calling 
his only child, a girl of fourteen to his aid, with his 
trusty rifle, calmly awaited his doom. The mob sur- 
rounded the house and demanded admittance. To 
their surprise, the door suddenly opened and the hero 
stepped out, raised his rifle and fired, killing one of 
their number. Pen cannot fully describe the scene 
that followed. Maddened by the loss of one of their 
number, they killed the old man and severed the 
child's head from her body. 

The morning sun looked upon a scene ghastly 
and terrible. There, by the side of his faithful child, 
lay the hero, smiling even in death. " Leaves cen- 
turies old had fallen to make a bed like down," that 
this warrior might lie in state. Brave Leonadas, who 
dared to strike a blow against fearful odds. Through 


the leaves of the Georgia pines the winds whisper a 
requiem over the spot where rest this brave Spartan 
^nd his "army." 

The night, it was dark, yet peaceful and still, 

Around that negro dwelling ; 
And he heard the faint cry of the Whip-poor-will, 
His tale to the mountains telling. 

His day's work was over, his plow laid aside, 
His steed had returned to his fodder ; 

Vh.3 seatiael stars set their watch in the sky. 
And the wolfs faint bark grew louder. 

*' Abide with us as the dark shadows fall," 

Was the prayer of that heart, worn and weary ; 

*'Be the shepherd Thou wast to the children of old, 
As they roamed through a land lone and dreary." 

Angels looked pityingly down from on high. 
On that sad, bowed head, uld and hoary ; 

They knew that ere sunlight should gladden the sky, 
His soul would be mantled in glory. 

Under cover of darkness from Atlanta that night. 
Rode a band of white fiends bold and daring ; 

Bent upon killing the innocent and weak, 
For justice and right little caring. 

Let Satan return from earth unto hell. 

And call back his imps from their revels ; 
And tell them that deeds done by innocent men, 
O'ershadow the cunning of devils. 

Hark ! o'er the hills comes the tramping of feet ; 

The old man arouses from slumber ; 
Looks out and behold ! there is wending in sight 

A band more than fiftv in number. 


Then rose the bold hero and shouldered his gun^ 
And called to his aid his brave daughter ; 
'* Back ! back ! ye white cowards ; we sell our lives deiir^ 
Just give us a show ere ye slaughter." 

Not heeding the order, " come out and be whipped/' 

He raised his old rifle and fired ; 
The leader, now chilled by the cold hand of death. 

Soon fell from his horse and expired. 

You know the story ; for freedom they fell, 
These Spartans, so brave and so daring ; 

But yonder in glory they've found it at last, 
And no one need ask how they're faring. 

" They ivere lovely and pleasant in their lives and in their 
death they were not divided. They loere sivifter than eagles ; 
they were stronger than lions." 

What is the greatest drawback of this people ? 
I say, the press of this country. No newspaper pub- 
lishes anything in praise of them. If a student has 
graduated with honors, or a physician or lawyer 
among them has done a deed worthy of commenda- 
tion, it is whispered, but never gets into print. But 
let there be a felony committed, and on the first page 
of the paper will be seen in large letters, '' Bukly 
Negro!" How cowardly. 

Let the men see perfection in themselves, for 
others will not see it in them. Let them see virtue 
and true womanhood in their own women, for in these 
attributes the American colored women will compare 
favorably with those of any other nationality. 


Compare the two, white and colored. The one 
lias everything to encourage her. She is flattered and 
'Cajoled. Every act is worthy of praise, every crime a 
mi»stake. The other, her good deeds spoken of with 
bated breath, her evil deeds the show and gaze of the 

The whitewashed hypocrite who turns his back 
rather than assist her from a car, waits until night 
sets in, and '*with Tarquin's ravishing strides, on to 
his design he speeds like a ghost." He knows her 
weakness ; it is that of any other w^oman. 

Wealth is the monarch before whom Poverty 
casts her shield and broken sword, and he would 
spend it freely to humiliate her. 

It seems as if the entire country were a detective, 
watching the steps of this people, ready to publish to 
the winds all the evil they do. 

I was sitting in the ferryboat one morning, going 
from Jersey City to New York, when there entered a 
lady, faultlessly gowned. Everything was tastily ar- 
ranged. She was, indeed, a perfect type of woman- 
hood. Yet two newly imported asses sat and giggled 
and whispered till the boat landed and the lady 
passed out of the saloon. Ask those women the 
cause of their mirth, and they will say it was a colored 
woman, and we thought it the best thing to do. 

There boarded the south-bound train at Philadel- 
phia, one night, a little girl about ten years of age, 
having a through ticket direct to St. Augustine, also 
a letter to all train conductors requesting them to 


look out for her. She was a comical little thing, with 
ahead as bare of hair as a boy's. I paid but little 
attention to her until the following night. The train 
had stopped on account of a wreck just north of Golds- 
boro', N. 0. Passing toward the front of my car, I 
heard loud talking in the coach, and stopping to learn 
the cause, found that the young men were throwing 
water on her and otherwise amusing themselves, and 
in fact everybody on the car, much to her discom- 
fiture. There sat a car-full of ladies (?) and gentle- 
men (?) and not a single man or tvoman, for no one 
said a word in her favor. But I tell you that little 
creature held her own. With a glass of water in one 
hand and a shovel in the other, she was like a lion 
at bay when I entered and told them to desist. I 
was her slave from that hour, for she had grit enough 
to build a fort. After that I was constantly beside 
her, doing all in my power to make her comfortable. 

She had been taken to New Jersey when four 
years old, and the good people having decided to go 
West to live, thought it best to send her home. She 
was a lovely little thing, with that free, rollicking dis- 
position, resident only in colored children raised in 
the North and West. The train being several hours 
late at Jacksonville, I arranged for her to stop over 
night with a lady, and, on the following morning, to- 
gether we went to the ferry, which at that time took 
passengers bound for St. Augustine across the river. 
Here my little heroine, loath to leave me, clung about 


my neck and made me promise that if ever I came to 
her home, to try and find " Little Sarah," for that is 
all of her name I remember. 


I do not mean by the preceding chapters to im- 
press the reader with the idea that there are no 
pleasures in the South land. We find colored people 
cultured and refined, in spite of odds ; wealthy, in 
spite of almost insurmountable barriers. In the 
church, in the school-house, in the dive and dance 
hall, as well, one can be entertained to one's satisfac- 

What person can do them justice, who only sees 
a portion of the rough element that stands about the 
way stations ? They .are not to be found at such 
places. These good thinking colored people forego 
the pleasure or displeasure of a journey by rail, when 
they consider the humiliation of being hustled about 
by uniformed lackeys, who say to all colored passen- 
gers : " That's yo' kyar ; that's yo' kyar." Students 
going to and returning from college, who are obliged 
to take such accommodation, are subjected to insult 
by these lackeys. Even among the most lowly of 
these Southern colored people can be found that 
docility which makes a stranger feel at home. At 
Charleston, one night, I sallied forth with a crowd of 
light-hearted young men and maidens who were going 
over to James Island to a ball. I am no dancer, but 
as my partner insisted, I yielded. Arriving at the 


house, the fiddler was already on hand ** tunin' up." 
When the neighbors had all gathered, the old fiddler 
perched himself upon the back of a chair, his feet 
resting upon the seat, and said : " Git yer pardners, 
gem'n. I want you Jeems Island boys to try your- 
selbs ternight. I doan' want dese Charleston darkeys 
go home and say yo' can't dance. Yo' bar'foot boy in 
de corner, da stop whisp'rin' while I talk. You dat 
got on high heel boot, shoe and tings, don't scrape yo' 
foot, but go smoothly. Balance all!" 

So the ball commenced. It seemed as though 
the young people would never tire, and the old fiddler 
was patting his foot as vigorously at three A. M. as 
at nine P. M.. 

Two evenings afterward found me amid the jost- 
ling throngs of New York, but with the wailing sound 
of that violin ringing in my ears. 

I will not close this, my story, without saying 
something concerning the great metropolis — ^New 

A few words are all that I can truthfully say, 
although a resident for over five years. 

Pass through lower Broadway, with its jostling 
crowds and immense business activity, or into Fifth 
Avenue, with its stately mansions, or into Central 
Park, with its limitless resources for pleasure, recrea- 
tion, and instruction; climb to the elevator, thunder 
over the heads of the surging multitudes, back to the 
City Hall ; walk to the highest point upon the great 
bridge, and look southward upon the great harbor 
with its innumerable craft. 


Then stand at night at the entrance to one of the 
many magnificent theatres and see the gay, the blithe, 
the prond, in silken robes ; hear the merry peals of 
laughter as they enter. To witness all this, one would 
say truthfully that New York is all that can be desired. 

But truth is many sided. To go from the New 
York terminus of the Brooklyn Bridge up Park Eow, 
through Chatham Square to the Bowery, and turn east 
or west into the many little crowded streets, one 
whose eyes have been dazzled by beauty and wealth 
will find wretchedness and misery indiscribable. 
Here Magdalene wallows in her sin and shame, curses 
God, despairs, and dies. Here the rich can provide 
themselves ^' bags which wax not old." And those 
who desire to lead perishing souls to Christ can find 
a wide field. Often, in passing through this portion 
of New York, have I seen in the gin mills and dives 
members of that greatest of Christian bands, the Sal- 
vation Army, struggling to reclaim some fallen woman, 
some miserable drunkard, who is wasting away body 
and soul. Also, I have seen the redeemed wretch 
stand forth before a scoffing multitude and speak 
boldly of the reedeeming love of Christ. 

Here the beggar pleads loudly for " two cents to 
cross the ferry," " ten cents to secure lodgings," etc. 

This is New York, also ; and to look at this side 
of the painting. New York is not very desirable. 

These are a few of my recollections. So, like the 
beloved Brutus, I ask *'Whom have I offended?" 
Who is here so base that he does not, wherever he 


goes, note above all things, that which is to the in- 
terest of his race. Let him speak, '' for him have I 
offended." Who is here so vile that would not be an 
American citizen, with a full enjoyment of a citizen's 
rights ? Let him now speak, "■ for him have I of- 
fended." I pause for a rej^lj. None? Then none 
have I offended. 

With this I depart. I started out with the in- 
tention of giving my readers a glimpse at the life of a 
car service man, and if in this I have failed, I invoke 
your sympathies and claim your tears. 

. "Jack Thorne." 




Jeisey Gltg. 


Washington and Greene Streets, 








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