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SLEEPING CAR PORTER.
SLEEPING CAR PORTER.
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.
JERSEY CITY: ^
DOAN & PILSON, BOOK AND JOB PRINTEKS, 54 MONTGOMERY STREET, ^ ^^
To my esteemed friend,
ISS pJ'ARY g§ASHINGTON pfoWE,
is this mile volume dedicated.
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.
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
'- 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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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 :
"KILJLED HIS M^N!^^
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."
LOUIS G. BULL06H,
Washington and Greene Streets,
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