Oregon State University
Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection

Alfred Richerdsen Oral History Interview. 1980s

Alfred Richerdsen Oral History Interview

Interviewer unknown.


Location:  Location Unknown.

Alfred Richerdson was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 28th, 1916 and moved to Philadelphia at three months old. He talks about his mother working in the Pennsylvania school system at that time. In 1941 Richerdson went to work for the Union Pacific as a waiter. He gives his first impressions of Portland, that the black population was so small that some people had never seen a black person. He describes the racism encountered in Portland and the daily life and hours of a railroad waiter. Richerdson recalls when one of the states declared it unsanitary for waiters to sleep in the dining car, and after much legislation railroads had to provide a dormitory. The last month he worked for the railroad the rules changed to allow black persons to apply for the position of steward. Richerdson also mentions the Railroad Retirement Act and a Streamliner called the City of Portland that hired only light-skinned black employees.