He stands there at the door of his car, dusky, grinning,

immaculate--awaiting your pleasure. He steps forward as you near him

and, with a quick, intuitive movement born of long experience and

careful training, inquires:

"What space you got, guv'nor?"

"Lower five," you reply. "Are you full-up, George?"

"Jus' toler'bul, guv'nor."

He has your grips, is already slipping down the aisle toward section

five. And, after he has stowed the big one under the facing bench and

placed the smaller one by your side, he asks again:

"Shake out a pillow for you, guv'nor?"

That "guv'nor," though not a part of his official training, is a part of

his unofficial--his subtlety, if you please. Another passenger might be

the "kunnel"; still another, the "jedge." But there can be no other

guv'nor save you on this car and trip. And George, of the Pullmans, is

going to watch over you this night as a mother hen might watch over her

solitary chick. The car is well filled and he is going to have a hard

night of it; but he is going to take good care of you. He tells you so;

and, before you are off the car, you are going to have good reason to

believe it.

Before we consider the sable-skinned George of to-day, give a passing

thought to the Pullman itself. The first George of the Pullmans--George

M. Pullman--was a shrewd-headed carpenter who migrated from a western

New York village out into Illinois more than half a century ago and gave

birth to the idea of railroad luxury at half a cent a mile. There had

been sleeping cars before Pullman built the Pioneer, as he called his

maiden effort. There was a night car, equipped with rough bunks for the

comfort of passengers, on the Cumberland Valley Railroad along about


Other early railroads had made similar experiments, but they were all

makeshifts and crude. Pullman set out to build a sleeping car that would

combine a degree of comfort with a degree of luxury. The Pioneer, viewed

in the eyes of 1864, was really a luxurious car. It was as wide as the

sleeping car of to-day and nearly as high; in fact, so high and so wide

was it that there were no railroads on which it might run, and when

Pullman pleaded with the old-time railroad officers to widen the

clearances, so as to permit the Pioneer to run over their lines, they

laughed at him.

"It is ridiculous, Mr. Pullman," they told him smilingly in refusal.

"People are never going to pay their good money to ride in any such

fancy contraption as that car of yours."

Then suddenly they ceased smiling. All America ceased smiling. Morse's

telegraph was sobering an exultant land by telling how its great

magistrate lay dead within the White House, at Washington. And men were

demanding a funeral car, dignified and handsome enough to carry the body

of Abraham Lincoln from Washington to Springfield. Suddenly somebody

thought of the Pioneer, which rested, a virtual prisoner, in a railroad

yard not far from Chicago.

The Pioneer was quickly released. There was no hesitation now about

making clearances for her. Almost in the passing of a night, station

platforms and other obstructions were being cut away, and the first of

all the Pullman cars made a triumphant though melancholy journey to New

York, to Washington, and back again to Illinois. Abraham Lincoln, in the

hour of death--fifty years ago this blossoming spring of 1915--had given

birth to the Pullman idea. The other day, while one of the brisk Federal

commissions down at Washington was extending consideration to the

Pullman porter and his wage, it called to the witness stand the

executive head of the Pullman Company. And the man who answered the call

was Robert T. Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln.

When Pullman built the Pioneer he designated it A, little dreaming that

eventually he might build enough cars to exhaust the letters of the

alphabet. To-day the Pullman Company has more than six thousand cars in

constant use. It operates the entire sleeping-car service and by far the

larger part of the parlor-car service on all but half a dozen of the

railroads of the United States and Canada, with a goodly sprinkling of

routes south into Mexico. On an average night sixty thousand persons--a

community equal in size to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, or South Bend,

Indiana--sleep within its cars.

And one of the chief excuses for its existence is the flexibility of its

service. A railroad in the South, with a large passenger traffic in the

winter, or a railroad in the North, with conditions reversed and travel

running at high tide throughout the hot summer months, could hardly

afford to place the investment in sleeping and parlor cars to meet its

high-tide needs, and have those cars grow rusty throughout the long,

dull months. The Pullman Company, by moving its extra cars backward and

forward over the face of the land in regiments and in battalions, keeps

them all earning money. It meets unusual traffic demands with all the

resources of its great fleet of traveling hotels.

Last summer, when the Knights Templars held their convention in Denver,

it sent four hundred and fifty extra cars out to the capital of

Colorado. And this year it is bending its resources toward finding

sufficient cars to meet the demands for the long overland trek to the

expositions on the Pacific Coast.

The transition from the Pioneer to the steel sleeping car of today

was not accomplished in a single step. A man does not have to be so

very old or so very much traveled to recall the day when the Pullman

was called a palace ear and did its enterprising best to justify that

title. It was almost an apotheosis of architectural bad taste. Disfigured

by all manner of moldings, cornices, grilles and dinky plush

curtains--head-bumping, dust-catching, useless--it was a decorative

orgy, as well as one of the very foundations of the newspaper school of


Suddenly the Pullman Company awoke to the absurdity of it all. More than

ten years ago it came to the decision that architecture was all right in

its way, but that it was not a fundamental part of car building. It

separated the two. It began to throw out the grilles and the other

knickknacks, even before it had committed itself definitely to the use

of the steel car.

Recently it has done much more. It has banished all but the very

simplest of the moldings, and all the hangings save those that are

absolutely necessary to the operation of the car. It has studied and it

has experimented until it has produced in the sleeping car of to-day

what is probably the most efficient railroad vehicle in the world. Our

foreign cousins scoff at it and call it immodest; but we may reserve our

own opinion as to the relative modesty of some of their institutions.

* * * * *

This, however, is not the story of the Pullman car. It is the story of

that ebony autocrat who presides so genially and yet so firmly over it.

It is the story of George the porter--the six thousand Georges standing

to-night to greet you and the other traveling folk at the doors of the

waiting cars. And George is worthy of a passing thought. He was born in

the day when the negro servant was the pride of America--when the black

man stood at your elbow in the dining rooms of the greatest of our

hotels; when a colored butler was the joy of the finest of the homes

along Fifth Avenue or round Rittenhouse Square. Transplanted, he quickly

became an American institution. And there is many a man who avers that

never elsewhere has there been such a servant as a good negro servant.

Fashions change, and in the transplanting of other social ideas the

black man has been shoved aside. It is only in the Pullman service that

he retains his old-time pride and prestige. That company to-day might

almost be fairly called his salvation, despite the vexing questions of

the wages and tips of the sleeping-car porters that have recently come

to the fore. Yet it is almost equally true that the black man has been

the salvation of the sleeping-car service. Experiments have been made in

using others. One or two of the Canadian roads, which operate their own

sleeping cars, have placed white men as porters; down in the Southwest

the inevitable Mexicano has been placed in the familiar blue uniform.

None of them has been satisfactory; and, indeed, it is not every negro

who is capable of taking charge of a sleeping car.

The Pullman Company passes by the West Indians--the type so familiar to

every man who has ridden many times in the elevators of the apartment

houses of upper New York. It prefers to recruit its porters from certain

of the states of the Old South--Georgia and the Carolinas. It almost

limits its choice to certain counties within those states. It shows a

decided preference for the sons of its employees; in fact, it might

almost be said that to-day there are black boys growing up down there in

the cotton country who have come into the world with the hope and

expectation of being made Pullman car porters. The company that operates

those cars prefers to discriminate--and it does discriminate.

That is its first step toward service--the careful selection of the

human factor. The next step lies in the proper training of that factor;

and as soon as a young man enters the service of the Pullmans he goes to

school--in some one of the large railroad centers that act as hubs for

that system. Sometimes the school is held in one of the division

offices, but more often it goes forward in the familiar aisle of a

sleeping car, sidetracked for the purpose.

Its curriculum is unusual but it is valuable. One moment it considers

the best methods to "swat the fly"--to drive him from the vehicle in

which he is an unwelcome passenger; the next moment the class is being

shown the proper handling of the linen closet, the proper methods of

folding and putting away clean linen and blankets, the correct way of

stacking in the laundry bags the dirty and discarded bedding. The porter

is taught that a sheet once unfolded cannot be used again. Though it may

be really spotless, yet technically it is dirty; and it must make a

round trip to the laundry before it can reenter the service.

All these things are taught the sophomore porters by a wrinkled veteran

of the service; and they are minutely prescribed in the voluminous rule

book issued by the Pullman Company, which believes that the first

foundation of service is discipline. So the school and the rule book do

not hesitate at details. They teach the immature porter not merely the

routine of making up and taking down beds, and the proper maintenance of

the car, but they go into such finer things as the calling of a

passenger, for instance. Noise is tabooed, and so even a soft knocking

on the top of the berth is forbidden. The porter must gently shake the

curtains or the bedding from without.

When the would-be porter is through in this schoolroom his education

goes forward out on the line. Under the direction of one of the grizzled

autocrats he first comes in contact with actual patrons--comes to know

their personalities and their peculiarities. Also, he comes to know the

full meaning of that overused and abused word--service. After all, here

is the full measure of the job. He is a servant. He must realize that.

And as a servant he must perfect himself. He must rise to the countless

opportunities that will come to him each night he is on the run. He must

do better--he must anticipate them.

Take such a man as Eugene Roundtree, who has been running a smoking car

on one of the limited trains between New York and Boston for two

decades--save for that brief transcendent hour when Charles S. Mellen

saw himself destined to become transportation overlord of New England

and appropriated Roundtree for a personal servant and porter of his

private car. Roundtree is a negro of the very finest type. He is a man

who commands respect and dignity--and receives it. And Roundtree, as

porter of the Pullman smoker on the Merchants' Limited, has learned to


He knows at least five hundred of the big bankers and business men of

both New York and Boston--though he knows the Boston crowd best. He

knows the men who belong to the Somerset and the Algonquin Clubs--the

men who are Boston enough to pronounce Peabody "Pebbuddy." And they know

him. Some of them have a habit of dropping in at the New Haven ticket

offices and demanding: "Is Eugene running up on the Merchants'


"It isn't just knowing them and being able to call them by their names,"

he will tell you if you can catch him in one of his rarely idle moments.

"I've got to remember what they smoke and what they drink. When Mr.

Blank tells me he wants a cigar it's my job to remember what he smokes

and to put it before him. I don't ask him what he wants. I anticipate."

And by anticipating Roundtree approaches a sort of _n_th degree of

service and receives one of the "fattest" of all the Pullman runs.

George Sylvester is another man of the Roundtree type--only his run

trends to the west from New York instead of to the east, which means

that he has a somewhat different type of patron with which to deal.

Sylvester is a porter on the Twentieth Century Limited; and, like

Roundtree, he is a colored man of far more than ordinary force and

character. He had opportunity to show both on a winter night, when his

train was stopped and a drunken man--a man who was making life hideous

for other passengers on Sylvester's car--was taken from the train. The

fact that the man was a powerful politician, a man who raved the direst

threats when arrested, made the porter's job the more difficult.

The Pullman Company, in this instance alone, had good cause to remember

Sylvester's force and courage--and consummate tact--just as it has good

cause in many such episodes to be thankful for the cool-headedness of

its black man in a blue uniform who stands in immediate control of its


Sylvester prefers to forget that episode. He likes to think of the nice

part of the Century's runs--the passengers who are quiet, and kind, and

thoughtful, and remembering. They are a sort whom it is a pleasure for a

porter to serve. They are the people who make an excess-fare train a

"fat run." There are other fat runs, of course: the Overland, the

Olympian, the Congressional--and of General Henry Forrest, of the

Congressional, more in a moment--fat trains that follow the route of the


It was on one of these, coming east from Cleveland on a snowy night in

February last, that a resourceful porter had full use for his store of

tact; for there is, in the community that has begun to stamp Sixth City

on its shirts and its shoe tabs, a bank president who--to put the matter

lightly--is a particular traveler. More than one black man, rising high

in porter service, has had his vanity come to grief when this crotchety

personage has come on his car.

And the man himself was one of those who are marked up and down the

Pullman trails. An unwritten code was being transmitted between the

black brethren of the sleeping cars as to his whims and peculiarities.

It was well that every brother in service in the Cleveland district

should know the code. When Mr. X entered his drawing-room--he never

rides elsewhere in the car--shades were to be drawn, a pillow beaten and

ready by the window, and matches on the window sill. X would never ask

for these things; but God help the poor porter who forgot them!

So you yourself can imagine the emotions of Whittlesey Warren, porter of

the car Thanatopsis, bound east on Number Six on the snowy February

night when X came through the portals of that scarabic antique, the

Union Depot at Cleveland, a redcap with his grips in the wake. Warren

recognized his man. The code took good care as to that. He followed the

banker down the aisle, tucked away the bags, pulled down the shades,

fixed the pillow and placed the matches on the window sill.

The banker merely grunted approval, lighted a big black cigar and went

into the smoker, while Warren gave some passing attention to the other

patrons of his car. It was passing attention at the best; for after a

time the little bell annunciator began to sing merrily and persistently

at him--and invariably its commanding needle pointed to D.R. And on the

drawing-room Whittlesey Warren danced a constant attention.

"Here, you nigger!" X shouted at the first response. "How many times

have I got to tell all of you to put the head of my bed toward the


Whittlesey Warren looked at the bed. He knew the make-up of the train.

The code had been met. The banker's pillows were toward the locomotive.

But his job was not to argue and dispute. He merely said:

"Yas-suh. Scuse me!" And he remade the bed while X lit a stogy and went

back to the smoker.

That was at Erie--Erie, and the snow was falling more briskly than at

Cleveland. Slowing into Dunkirk, the banker returned and glanced through

the car window. He could see by the snow against the street lamps that

the train was apparently running in the opposite direction. His chubby

finger went against the push button. Whittlesey Warren appeared at the

door. The language that followed cannot be reproduced in THE SATURDAY

EVENING POST. Suffice it to say that the porter remembered who he was

and what he was, and merely remade the bed.

The banker bit off the end of another cigar and retired once again to

the club car. When he returned, the train was backing into the Buffalo

station. At that unfortunate moment he raised his car shade--and Porter

Whittlesey Warren again reversed the bed, to the accompaniment of the

most violent abuse that had ever been heaped on his defenseless head.

Yet not once did he complain--he remembered that a servant a servant

always is. And in the morning X must have remembered; for a folded bill

went into Warren's palm--a bill of a denomination large enough to buy

that fancy vest which hung in a haberdasher's shop over on San Juan


If you have been asking yourself all this while just what a fat run is,

here is your answer: Tips; a fine train filled with fine ladies and fine

gentlemen, not all of them so cranky as X, of Cleveland--thank heaven

for that!--though a good many of them have their peculiarities and are

willing to pay generously for the privilege of indulging those


Despite the rigid discipline of the Pullman Company the porter's leeway

is a very considerable one. His instructions are never to say "Against

the rules!" but rather "I do not know what can be done about it"--and

then to make a quick reference to the Pullman conductor, who is his

arbiter and his court of last resort. His own initiative, however, is

not small.

Two newspaper men in New York know that. They had gone over to Boston

for a week-end, had separated momentarily at its end, to meet at the

last of the afternoon trains for Gotham. A had the joint finances and

tickets for the trip; but B, hurrying through the traffic tangle of

South Station, just ninety seconds before the moment of departure, knew

that he would find him already in the big Pullman observation car. He

was not asked to show his ticket at the train gate. Boston, with the

fine spirit of the Tea Party still flowing in its blue veins, has always

resented that as a sort of railroad impertinence.

B did not find A. He did not really search for him until Back Bay was

passed and the train was on the first leg of its journey, with the next

stop at Providence. Then it was that A was not to be found. Then B

realized that his side partner had missed the train. He dropped into a

corner and searched his own pockets. A battered quarter and three

pennies came to view--and the fare from Boston to Providence is ninety


Then it was that the initiative of a well-trained Pullman porter came

into play. He had stood over the distressed B while he was making an

inventory of his resources.

"Done los' something, boss?" said the autocrat of the car.

B told the black man his story in a quick, straightforward manner; and

the black man looked into his eyes. B returned the glance. Perhaps he

saw in that honest ebony face something of the expression of the

faithful servants of wartime who refused to leave their masters even

after utter ruin had come upon them. The porter drew forth a fat roll of


"Ah guess dat, ef you-all'll give meh yo' business cyard, Ah'll be able

to fee-nance yo' trip dis time."

To initiative the black man was adding intuition. He had studied his

man. He was forever using his countless opportunities to study men. It

was not so much of a gamble as one might suppose.

A pretty well-known editor was saved from a mighty embarrassing time;

and some other people have been saved from similarly embarrassing

situations through the intuition and the resources of the Pullman

porter. The conductor--both of the train and of the sleeping-car

service--is not permitted to exercise such initiative or intuition; but

the porter can do and frequently does things of this very sort. His

recompense for them, however, is hardly to be classed as a tip.

The tip is the nub of the whole situation. Almost since the very day

when the Pioneer began to blaze the trail of luxury over the railroads

of the land, and the autocrat of the Pullman car created his servile but

entirely honorable calling, it has been a mooted point. Recently a great

Federal commission has blazed the strong light of publicity on it.

Robert T. Lincoln, son of the Emancipator, and, as we have already said,

the head and front of the Pullman Company, sat in a witness chair at

Washington and answered some pretty pointed questions as to the division

of the porter's income between the company and the passenger who

employed him. Wages, it appeared, are twenty-seven dollars and a half a

month for the first fifteen years of the porter's service, increasing

thereafter to thirty dollars a month, slightly augmented by bonuses for

good records.

The porter also receives his uniforms free after ten years of service,

and in some cases of long service his pay may reach forty-two dollars a

month. The rest of his income is in the form of tips. And Mr. Lincoln

testified that during the past year the total of these tips, to the best

knowledge and belief of his company, had exceeded two million three

hundred thousand dollars.

The Pullman Company is not an eleemosynary institution. Though it has

made distinct advances in the establishment of pension funds and death

benefits, it is hardly to be classed as a philanthropy. It is a large

organization; and it generally is what it chooses to consider itself.

Sometimes it avers that it is a transportation company, at other times

it prefers to regard itself as a hotel organization; but at all times it

is a business proposition. It is not in business for its health. Its

dividend record is proof of that. All of which is a preface to the

statement that the Pullman Company, like any other large user of labor,

regulates its wage scale by supply and demand. If it can find enough of

the colored brethren competent and willing and anxious to man its cars

at twenty-seven dollars and a half a month--with the fair gamble of two

or three or four times that amount to come in the form of tips--it is

hardly apt to pay more.

No wonder, then, the tip forms the nub of the situation. To-day all

America tips. You tip the chauffeur in the taxi, the redcap in the

station, the barber, the bootblack, the manicure, the boy or girl who

holds your coat for you in the barber's shop or hotel. In the modern

hotel tipping becomes a vast and complex thing--waiters, doormen, hat

boys, chambermaids, bell boys, porters--the list seems almost unending.

The system may be abominable, but it has certainly fastened itself on

us--sternly and securely. And it may be said for the Pullman car that

there, at least, the tip comes to a single servitor--the black autocrat

who smiles genially no matter how suspiciously he may, at heart, view

the quarter you have placed within his palm.

A quarter seems to be the standard Pullman tip--for one person, each

night he may be on the car. Some men give more; some men--alas for poor

George!--less. A quarter is not only average but fairly standard. It is

given a certain official status by the auditing officers of many large

railroads and industrial corporations, who recognize it as a chargeable

item in the expense accounts of their men on the road.

A man with a fat run--lower berths all occupied, with at least a

smattering of riders in the uppers, night after night--ought to be able

easily to put aside a hundred and fifty dollars a month as his income

from this item. There are hundreds of porters who are doing this very

thing; and there are at least dozens of porters who own real estate,

automobiles, and other such material evidences of prosperity.

A tip is not necessarily a humiliation, either to the giver or to the

taker. On the contrary, it is a token of meritorious service. And the

smart porter is going to take good care that he gives such service. But

how about the porter who is not so smart--the man who has the lean run?

As every butcher and every transportation man knows, there is lean with

the fat. And it does the lean man little good to know that his fat

brother is preparing to buy a secondhand automobile. On the contrary, it

creates an anarchist--or at least a socialist--down under that black


Here is Lemuel--cursed with a lean run and yet trying to maintain at

least an appearance of geniality. Lemuel runs on a "differential"

between New York, Chicago and St. Louis. Every passenger-traffic man

knows that most of the differentials--as the roads that take longer

hours, and so are permitted to charge a slightly lower through fare

between those cities, are called--have had a hard time of it in recent

years. It is the excess-fare trains, the highest-priced carriers--which

charge you a premium of a dollar for every hour they save in placing you

in the terminal--that are the crowded trains. And the differentials have

had increasing difficulty getting through passengers.

It seems that in this day and land a man who goes from New York to

Chicago or St. Louis is generally so well paid as to make it worth

dollars to him to save hours in the journey. It is modern efficiency

showing itself in railroad-passenger travel. But the differentials,

having local territory to serve, as well as on account of some other

reasons, must maintain a sleeping-car service--even at a loss. There is

little or no loss to the Pullman Company--you may be sure of that! The

railroad pays it a mileage fee for hauling a half or three-quarter empty

car over its own line--in addition to permitting the Pullman system to

take all the revenue from the car; but Lemuel sees his end of the

business as a dead loss.

He leaves New York at two-thirty o'clock on Monday afternoon, having

reported at his car nearly three hours before so as to make sure that it

is properly stocked and cleaned for its long trip. He is due at St.

Louis at ten-fifteen on Tuesday evening--though it will be nearly two

hours later before he has checked the contents of the car and slipped

off to the bunking quarters maintained there by his company.

On Wednesday evening at seven o'clock he starts east and is due in New

York about dawn on Friday morning. He cleans up his car and himself, and

gets to his little home on the West Side of Manhattan Island sometime

before noon; but by noon on Saturday he must be back at his car, making

sure that it is fit and ready by two-thirty o'clock--the moment the

conductor's arm falls--and they are headed west again.

This time the destination is Chicago, which is not reached until about

six o'clock Sunday night. He bunks that night in the Windy City and then

spends thirty-two hours going back again to New York. He sees his home

one more night; then he is off to St. Louis again--started on a fresh

round of his eternal schedule.

Talk of tips to Lemuel! His face lengthens. You may not believe it,

white man, but Lemuel made fifty-three cents in tips on the last trip

from New York to Chicago. You can understand the man who gave him the

Columbian antique; but Lemuel believes there can be no future too warm

for that skinny man who gave him the three pennies! He thinks the

gentleman might at least have come across with a Subway ticket. It is

all legal tender to him.

All that saves this porter's bacon is the fact that he is in charge of

the car--for some three hundred miles of its eastbound run he is acting

as sleeping-car conductor, for which consolidated job he draws down a

proportionate share of forty-two dollars a month. This is a small sop,

however, to Lemuel. He turns and tells you how, on the last trip, he

came all the way from St. Louis to New York--two nights on the

road--without ever a "make-down," as he calls preparing a berth. No

wonder then that he has difficulty in making fifty dollars a month, with

his miserable tips on the lean run.

Nor is that all. Though Lemuel is permitted three hours' sleep--on the

bunk in the washroom on the long runs--from midnight to three o'clock in

the morning, there may come other times when his head begins to nod. And

those are sure to be the times when some lynx-eyed inspector comes

slipping aboard. Biff! Bang! Pullman discipline is strict. Something has

happened to Lemuel's pay envelope, and his coffee-colored wife in West

Twenty-ninth Street will not be able to get those gray spats until they

are clean gone out of style.

What can be done for Lemuel? He must bide his time and constantly make

himself a better servant--a better porter, if you please. It will not go

unnoticed. The Pullman system has a method for noticing those very

things--inconsequential in themselves but all going to raise the

standard of its service.

Then some fine day something will happen. A big sleeping-car autocrat,

in the smugness and false security of a fat run, is going to err. He is

going to step on the feet of some important citizen--perhaps a railroad

director--and the important citizen is going to make a fuss. After which

Lemuel, hard-schooled in adversity, in faithfulness and in courtesy,

will be asked in the passing of a night to change places with the old


And the old autocrat, riding in the poverty of a lean run, will have

plenty of opportunity to count the telegraph poles and reflect on the

mutability of men and things. The Pullman Company denies that this is

part of its system; but it does happen--time and time and time again.

George, or Lemuel, or Alexander--whatever the name may be--has no easy

job. If you do not believe that, go upstairs some hot summer night to

the rear bedroom--that little room under the blazing tin roof which you

reserve for your relatives--and make up the bed fifteen or twenty times,

carefully unmaking it between times and placing the clothes away in a

regular position. Let your family nag at you and criticize you during

each moment of the job--while somebody plays an obbligato on the

electric bell and places shoes and leather grips underneath your feet.

Imagine the house is bumping and rocking--and keep a smiling face and a

courteous tongue throughout all of it!

Or do this on a bitter night in midwinter; and between every two or

three makings of the bed in the overheated room slip out of a linen coat

and into a fairly thin serge one and go and stand outside the door from

three to ten minutes in the snow and cold. In some ways this is one of

the hardest parts of George's job. Racially the negro is peculiarly

sensitive to pneumonia and other pulmonary diseases; yet the rules of a

porter's job require that at stopping stations he must be outside of the

car--no matter what the hour or condition of the climate--smiling and

ready to say:

"What space you got, guv'nor?"

However, the porter's job, like nearly every other job, has its glories

as well as its hardships--triumphs that can be told and retold for many

a day to fascinated colored audiences; because there are special

trains--filled with pursy and prosperous bankers from Hartford and

Rochester and Terre Haute--making the trip from coast to coast and back

again, and never forgetting the porter at the last hour of the last day.

There are many men in the Pullman service like Roger Pryor, who has

ridden with every recent President of the land and enjoyed his

confidence and respect. And then there is General Henry Forrest, of the

Congressional Limited, for twenty-four years in charge of one of its

broiler cars, who stops not at Presidents but enjoys the acquaintance

of senators and ambassadors almost without number.

The General comes to know these dignitaries by their feet. When he is

standing at the door of his train under the Pennsylvania Terminal, in

New York, he recognizes the feet as they come poking down the long

stairs from the concourse. And he can make his smile senatorial or

ambassadorial--a long time in advance.

Once Forrest journeyed in a private car to San Francisco, caring for a

Certain Big Man. He took good care of the Certain Big Man--that was part

of his job. He took extra good care of the Certain Big Man--that was his

opportunity. And when the Certain Big Man reached the Golden Gate he

told Henry Forrest that he had understood and appreciated the countless

attentions. The black face of the porter wrinkled into smiles. He dared

to venture an observation.

"Ah thank you, Jedge!" said he. "An' ef it wouldn't be trespassin' Ah'd

lak to say dat when yo' comes home you's gwine to be President of dese

United States."

The Certain Big Man shook his head negatively; but he was flattered

nevertheless. He leaned over and spoke to Henry Forrest.

"If ever I am President," said he, "I will make you a general."

And so it came to pass that on the blizzardy Dakota-made day when

William Howard Taft was inaugurated President of these United States

there was a parade--a parade in which many men rode in panoply and

pride; but none was prouder there than he who, mounted on a magnificent

bay horse, headed the Philippine Band.

A promise was being kept. The bay horse started three times to bolt from

the line of march, and this was probably because its rider was better

used to the Pompeian-red broiler car than to a Pompeian-red bay mare.

But these were mere trifles. Despite them--partly because of them

perhaps--the younger brethren at the terminals were no longer to address

the veteran from the Congressional merely as Mr. Forrest. He was General

Forrest now--a title he bears proudly and which he will carry with him

all the long years of his life.

What becomes of the older porters?

Sometimes, when the rush of the fast trains, the broken nights, the

exposure and the hard, hard work begin to be too much for even sturdy

Afric frames, they go to the "super" and beg for the "sick man's run"--a

leisurely sixty or a hundred miles a day on a parlor car, perhaps on a

side line where travel is light and the parlor car is a sort of

sentimental frippery; probably one of the old wooden cars: the Alicia,

or the Lucille, or the Celeste, still vain in bay windows and grilles,

and abundant in carvings. For a sentimental frippery may be given a

feminine name and may bear her years gracefully--even though she does

creak in all her hundred joints when the track is the least bit uneven.

As to the sick man's tips, the gratuity is no less a matter of keen

interest and doubt at sixty than it is at twenty-six. And though there

is a smile under that clean mat of kinky white hair, it is not all

habit--some of it is still anticipation. But quarters and half dollars

do not come so easily to the old man in the parlor car as to his younger

brother on the sleepers, or those elect who have the smokers on the fat

runs. To the old men come dimes instead--some of them miserable affairs

bearing on their worn faces the faint presentments of the ruler on the

north side of Lake Erie and hardly redeemable in Baltimore or

Cincinnati. Yet even these are hardly to be scorned--when one is sixty.

After the sick man's job? Perhaps a sandy farm on a Carolina

hillside, where an old man may sit and nod in the warm sun, and dream

of the days when steel cars were new--perhaps of the days when the

platform-vestibule first went bounding over the rails--may dream and

nod; and then, in his waking moments, stir the pickaninnies to the

glories of a career on a fast train and a fat run. For if it is true

that any white boy has the potential opportunity of becoming President

of the United States, it is equally true that any black boy may become

the Autocrat of the Pullman Car.

* * * * *

_(The Independent)_

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