Dining Car Kitchen Crews

499 views
12 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June, 2011
  • 716 posts
Dining Car Kitchen Crews
Posted by NP Eddie on Monday, August 27, 2018 6:58 PM

This is a question about kitchen crews on pre-Amtrak passenger trains. The Southern and B&O ("Trains" Jan, 1941, Page 4) shows blacks as cooks and chefs, while the Hill lines had white crews. Did any other roads use blacks as cooks? The picture that haunts me today is a Southern Railroad chef in a Southern Railroad ad for his famous biscuits only to be killed in the "Crescent" wreck shortly before Amtrak took over.

 

Ed Burns

  • Member since
    April, 2018
  • 270 posts
Posted by Jones1945 on Tuesday, August 28, 2018 5:52 AM

NP Eddie

This is a question about kitchen crews on pre-Amtrak passenger trains. The Southern and B&O ("Trains" Jan, 1941, Page 4) shows blacks as cooks and chefs, while the Hill lines had white crews. Did any other roads use blacks as cooks? The picture that haunts me today is a Southern Railroad chef in a Southern Railroad ad for his famous biscuits only to be killed in the "Crescent" wreck shortly before Amtrak took over.

IIRC, I have seen pics showing PRR hided African Americans as cooks, some of the pics were taken perwar.

 

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 13,984 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 7:02 AM

New York Central, black cooks and waiters

New Haven, interesting, black cooks and waiers in diners, white (and possibly black?) women in grille cars.  When coaches were added to the Merchants, aroud 1951 or 1952, it had both.  So did the Yankee Clipper.

Montrealer-Washingtonian, diner

All Boston - Washington except Federal, diner

Most others, grille car

Federal and State-of-Maine, buffet-lounge car only

Owl and Naragnsette, nothing but revenue passenger equipment and head-end

  • Member since
    February, 2007
  • 136 posts
Posted by 3rd rail on Thursday, August 30, 2018 9:39 PM

Yes, Ed. That was Chef Louis Price. I remember that ad very well. I never rode on that train, but Mr. Price was one of the last of the "Old-School" R.R. chefs.  I too, was saddened when I heard of his demise. Try to get food that good on Amtrak today...  You are lucky if the microwave works in the Amcafe.... Probably best that old Louis never had to degrade himself to be an Amcafe attendant. Not to say that the Amcafe attendants are any less important, they fill in for the erstwhile chefs and waiters. Those positions just doesn't exist any more. 

Todd

Todd 

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 13,984 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Friday, August 31, 2018 1:58 AM

I was luky enough to have enjoyed Southern dining car food.  The hold-out of the Rio Grande Zephyr lasted longer and retained all the excellence in food and service of the classic years.

  • Member since
    April, 2018
  • 270 posts
Posted by Jones1945 on Monday, September 03, 2018 8:29 AM

This prewar film "Rhapsody of the Rails" recorded the prewar NYC the 20th Century. At 07:19, we can see the chef trying to get a breath of fresh air by the window.


https://archive.org/details/0406_Rhapsody_of_the_Rails_00_12_38_00 

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,499 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, September 03, 2018 9:22 AM

Great film and time capsule!  Thanks for posting it Mr. Jones!

And I'm so relieved to see at the end it was "Passed By The Pennsylvania Board of Censors."  I was worried about that!Whistling

  • Member since
    April, 2018
  • 270 posts
Posted by Jones1945 on Monday, September 03, 2018 10:54 AM

You are welcome, Firelock. When I saw the Pullman Porter cleaning passenger's shoes, one question came in my mind... How often did they clean their hands every hour or ...... every day? CoffeeIndifferent

  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • 2,968 posts
Posted by Miningman on Monday, September 03, 2018 11:59 AM

Firelock-- I dunno, there was some pretty darn racey scenes with nighties, bedrooms and gams sticking out!

For those of us that are still hot blooded this is why one travels by train overnight with your sweetie. Amtrak should play up that angle.

Mile high club, baloney, how about the 'mile post club'.

  • Member since
    June, 2011
  • 716 posts
Posted by NP Eddie on Monday, September 03, 2018 3:29 PM

ALL:

I did view that film this afternoon (Monday 9/3). A number of scenes were from the "Flight of the Century" One man I worked with on the NP/BN/BNSF railroads was a third cook. He told me that the kitchens did not have A/C and were very hot. Opening the kitchen door only screwed up the A/C to the dining room. After two or three trips, my co-worker transferred to the clerical roster.

 

Ed Burns

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,499 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, September 03, 2018 4:30 PM

Mr. Jones, it was probably every hour or even more often than that, Pullman had very high standards, and at any rate those porters were very responsible men who I'm sure didn't need to be told.

Miningman, I certainly didn't fail to notice those "nighties, bedrooms, and gams...", I guess that film was an example of what Turner Classic Movies calls "Pre-Code Hollywood!"

Honestly, I'm surprised at my age I still notice stuff like that!  Maybe  I should be grateful...  Whistling 

  • Member since
    April, 2018
  • 270 posts
Posted by Jones1945 on Monday, September 03, 2018 4:58 PM

Thank you for the sharing, Ed. I am not familiar with NP's history, but their lightweight dining car seems to have a special exhaust vent design, compare it to a B&O dining car, the latter had a lot more exhaust vent on the roof and windows, I don’t know if this was the reason or not. Anyway, if I am a passenger, I don't want to eat a steak with sweat of kitchen's crew on it, let alone eating food which was cooked by tortured chef!

  • Member since
    June, 2011
  • 716 posts
Posted by NP Eddie on Monday, September 03, 2018 5:16 PM

ALL:

The dining car crews on any railroad had the hardest job of anyone. They had to be on their feet 16 hours a day, from 6AM to 10PM and be cheerful and polite all the time. Waiters bore the brunt of the passengers whims while the kitchen crews sweated. When passenger traffic slowed, the NP cut one cook from the crew to three and the chef. Both the NP and GN (NCL and EB) dining car crews worked a St. Paul-Chicago-Seattle-St. Paul run. Eastbound they had about 18 hours off and westbound they had six hours off in Seattle before heading east. Two very long days, one out and one back. They earned their money. I worked with an X-GN cook who was made into a roundhouse laborer. Bob worked the Empire Builder, Western Star, and other secondary trains. Bob also told me he was in two wrecks. One was the eastbound Western Star at Anoka, MN and the other one was on the CBQ west of Savanna, IL doing about 90 MPH! He recently passed away, but I still remember his many passenger stories.

 

Ed Burns

Retired clerk-NP-BN-BNSF from Minneapolis.

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter