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Monday, April 13, 2009

Pullman Porters

When time permits, I try to read the local newspaper online and the NYTimes. The NYTimes recently ran an article about Amtrak honoring Pullman porters on National Train Day. Reading this article took me back many years to a conversation I had with my godfather, Richard Gunn.

One day while waking Smokey, his little black dog, we heard a train horn from the train tracks near his Mt. Overlook Street home in Cleveland.

“Can we walk down to the tracks to see the train?”

“By the time we walk down to the tracks, the train will have left town” said Richard.

“One day I want to work on a railroad as an engineer. Did you know anyone who worked on the railroad?”



“My father. He was a Pullman porter mostly on the C&O trains.”

“Really? Did you get to travel on trains using a pass?”

“Yes, but all railroads did not honor the passes completely or at all. Some railroads did not honor the passes because they had their own porters, not Pullman porters though.”

“Did you ever get to ride on the 20th Century Limited?’

There was a chuckle from Richard before he proceeded to answer my question.

“ The 20th Century did not stop in Cleveland. It used the New York Central track near the lake that bypassed the Terminal Tower. It would have been a schedule killer to route the train into the Terminal. Plus the Terminal did not want steam engines smoking up the building, so you would have to put on some electrics or diesels on it and then take them off at Collinwood. I don’t think the New York Central would have liked some family of a Pullman porter riding their flagship.”

After that was said, there was nothing more for me to ask and nothing more for him to say. We continued are walk around the block, stopping at the Preisler Home Lumber Center on Woodland Ave. to say hi to the staff and get me some gum from the Ford $.10 gum machine.

I'm currently doing research on my God father's father. Hopefully I can find some information out and add him to the Pullman Porter Registry.

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