Oregon State University
Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection

Railroad Senior Citizens Association Meeting, Part 2

April 12, 1984

Audio: “RRSCA Meeting, Part 2” . April 12, 1984

Location: Location Unknown.

0:04:38 - Download Transcript (PDF)


Stationary Pantry Man: Some of them, well some of the cooks running with us would take some whiskey to rub it on their arms and hands and around their legs, and they'd take a [loud noise]—

Unknown Speaker 2: Put it on your face.

Stationary Pantry Man: When I put that whiskey and stuff around on my arms and hands, and I tell you something, you could look up at the top, I don't care what you do, sometimes they'd drop down on you, and they would even take those chinches and you know, blood them, and bust them all over.

Unknown Speaker 2: And blood be everywhere, yeah.

Stationary Pantry Man: And all them sheets and things. Two of the waiters, they got some of those chinches and put them in one of the matchboxes and brought it back and showed them to the superintendent.

Unknown Speaker 3: And here's something that's interesting and I think you would like to know. Speaking of discriminating, this cook was telling a JB I was telling you about, why we had lounge car attendants at that time. And it hadn't been too long, I'd say fifteen years ago, maybe twenty, and they left here and went to Chicago and went out of here as an attendant, and when they go to Chicago they put bartenders and made it a preferred job. Bar attendants, all white and no black. And then Mr. Weber [spelling?], which he's very, he was one of the fellows, he really tore him up. They went in there as club car attendants and come out as a waiter. And they went out in the street and these men; they just picked them up out off the street; bartenders, all white, and made it a preferred job. You had no bartenders experience, although he's doing the same thing that a bartend, or maybe better, serving liquor, and the bar tender, he's just carrying the name. Yes, they went in as a waiter—I mean attendant—and come out as a waiter. And that was the company's fault. And that was a pretty dirty deal, I think. They threw an outface. Didn't let them know leaving here, nothing.

Stationary Pantry Man: On the streamliner they had a barber, they had stewardesses, they had these white bartenders, and you know these are stewardesses, they were supposed to be looking after the Pullman passengers, and those that had babies and they'd look after them, but whenever it come time for them, they couldn't be found. So they would bring those bottles up and wash them and replenish them for the babies. Those stewardesses, they was on there making money; they was prostituting.

Unknown Speaker: They weren't even thinking about those babies them days, huh.

Stationary Pantry Man: They was back there making money. They couldn't—well finally they pulled them off. And I started out on the daily streamliner as a stationary pantry man in 1947. And when we started out, well we was pooling. I had to put so much money in the pool to bring my salary, I mean I'd have to put so much money in the pool, because—so that the money would be balanced, so our salary would be balance. Then we would split the tips. And they, it's like they didn't want to pool with the pantry man, so they kicked him out, so it didn't make no difference to me, because I made extra money by washing those baby bottles and things like that.

Unknown Speaker/Program Organizer: Personal service things. I think we might want—

Stationary Pantry Man: They didn't want us to—the pantry men didn't want to feed the Pullman porters, I said, so the stationary pantry man, he wasn't supposed to be waiting on them. Well, I would feed the porters, so I made me some extra money. Then one of the—

Unknown Speaker/Program Organizer: I was just going to say that I appreciated everybody sticking around. I will talk to people individually as time progresses. Going to take a year— [audio cuts out].

[end of interview 00:04:39]


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