Oregon State University
Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection

Jimmy Sullivan Oral History Interview. June 23, 1983

Jimmy Sullivan Oral History Interview

Interview conducted by Michael Grice.

June 23, 1983

Location:  Location Unknown.

Jimmy Sullivan was born in San Antonio, Texas on April 24th, 1906. He served in US Army in chemical warfare from 1942 to 1945. As a young man, Sullivan worked a variety of service related jobs in Texas until following his brother to Portland in 1929. He lists the few jobs that were open to black men and women at the time. He began working as a dining car waiter in 1949 and retired in 1969. He details his experience of being away from home for work, balanced with the benefit of many days off to spend with family. He was a member of a secret Railroad union before the Local 465 dining car union was formed openly, which he joined. Sullivan defines the various issues dining car workers faced on the job. He also discusses customer loyalty and working on specialty trains and streamliners.