My grandfather, John Jones was born in Gonzales, Texas, in September 1888. He grew up in this small town and attended the local grade school there. At the age of sixteen and after taking a young daughter, Minnie Weathers for his wife, he moved to the Cattle Empire at that time in Fort Worth, Texas.
For over forty years, my grandfather's job was to be a member of a group of prominent black gentlemen known as Pullman Sleeping Car Porters or simply Pullman Porters. They were named after George Pullman of the Pullman Palace Train Car Company, the inventor of the Pullman Sleeping Car which was designed for long-distance train travel.
As a Pullman Porter, my grandfather traveled from his home in Fort Worth on several different train routes from the United States to the Texas and Pacific Railways during the 1922 to 1962 train journey. withdrew.
When I, his nephew born in Fort Worth, moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1977, he told me many stories about the train ride to Kansas City. He recounted that he arrived at the country's second largest train station, Union Station in downtown (New York's Grand Central Station, being the first) and saw all the advertising signs on a hill in front of the station ( where is now Westin Crown Center Hotel) and then stay overnight at the Streets Hotel for Negri, located in what is now known as the 18 & Vine Historic Jazz District (a national district of historic sites in the US).
My grandparents have been happily married for 65 years. Seven children grew up, all educated at the college from the salary he received and the advice he received from the many passengers he served. My grandmother died in 1978, while my grandfather was 99 years old and died on Thursday, June 9, 1988, just a few months before he was 100 years old.
Pullman Porters and their rich American history: George Pullman of the Pullman Palace Company Car Train founded in 1862, made train cars and developed the Pullman luxury sleeping car, which was used on trains for long and overnight trips. These train cars, first introduced on the railway in 1867, had carpets, drapes, upholstered chairs, libraries and card tables, as well as private sleeping rooms with beds and bathrooms for long-haul travel.
Mr. Pullman had the idea of hiring a group of very distinct, well-dressed, well-dressed African-American men to serve Pullman Porters to help train travelers with any needs they might have on board. This proved to be a great job for goalkeepers and was considered a very prestigious job in what Mr. Pullman called "Hotel on Wheels".
In the 1920s, Mr. Pullman owned more than 9,800 Pullman train cars and employed more than 12,000 African-American porters. He was the largest single black employer in the country at the time.
The day-to-day work for a Pullman Porter has been long and arduous, but it has provided good pay over time and has also given the portals a chance to see the country. In the early years, they would work 400 hours per month and receive 35 cents per hour or about $ 810.00 per year, plus the tips they would do. This money was good and allowed them to take good care of their families and send their children to college. Their prestigious jobs also helped to define the black middle class at that time.
Pullman Porters were practically servants and had to endure all kinds of derogatory behavior on the part of white travelers. There were many times when they were not named after their name, but rather named "George" after George Pullman or simply "boy" whom they all hated.
Their daily work included running shoes, making beds, providing room service, luggage assistance, or just about anything the passenger would want or need. The better the service, the better the tips. Sometimes a quarter and sometimes even a rare dollar if they have provided very good services. In addition, Pullman's work policy was harsh and allowed porters to sleep only four hours each night, and they had to pay for their uniforms, diaries and food.
On August 25, 1925, the Brotherhood of Sleep Carriers was founded by a black businessman, A. Philip Randolph. It was the country's first all-black labor union and helped pave the way for better employment benefits.
On August 25, 1937, Pullman signed an employment agreement with Pullman Porters, which became the first labor agreement ever between black workers and a major American company. The result of the agreement included such benefits, such as reducing working hours from 400 per month to 250 and increasing their salary from $ 67.50 per month to a minimum of $ 89.50 per month.
Pullman porters were highly respected members of their communities and were credited with contributing to the development of the black middle class in America, as were black doctors, lawyers and educators of the time.
In 1968, the Pullman company ended its operation of the sleeping machines, and several railway companies took over the Pullman Car function. The porters were transferred to companies such as Rail Pacific Union and later Amtrak.
In conclusion, if you ever have a chance to ride the Amtrak train today and see a cute Black Man who takes care of every need, try it well and remember the proud history of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Carriers and, in particular, remember -my grandfather, Pullman Porter John Jones no "George" or "Boy".