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Side Door Pullman?

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Side Door Pullman?
Posted by R. T. POTEET on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 12:25 PM

I encountered this "Hobo Slang" expression this morning on a 1939 Gene Artery oater titled Mountain Rhythm; some way or another this word has escaped me over the years. My curiousity peaked I Googled the word seeking some information on its date of origin/common usage. The oldest reference I can find is dated to 1931; Google does reference/advertise several books on slang expressions but I am on a restricted budget and a purchase at this time is simply out of the question. I do have several Stuart Flexner books on language but they are inaccessible at this time. I did go to Factopedia and located the word but all it does is label it as a Hobo Slang expression for a box car. Can anyone provide me with information--with an attribute, if possible--as to the date the word became common usage in the hobo community?

I suppose what I am really trying to ascertain is if this word would have been in use in the first decade of the twentieth centrury!

From the far, far reaches of the wild, wild west I am: rtpoteet

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 12:41 PM

Yes a "side door Pullman" was hobospeak for a boxcar. As with many slang terms it's probably not possible to say exactly when the term was coined. However I know hobos became common after the Civil War, and from what I've read many / most hobo slang terms were in common use by say 1900 or so, so I wouldn't be surprised if "side door Pullman" wasn't in use then too. "A-No.1" (Leon Ray Livingston's) "tramplife series" of stories were first published around that time and used (and helped establish I suspect) many hobo terms.

BTW one of the stories was used as the basis of the "Emperor of the North" movie, about A-No.1 and his young protege Jack London, although the makers of the movie moved it about 30 years ahead to the 1930's.

Hobo Terms from

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Posted by Sperandeo on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 3:27 PM
Wentworth and Flexner's "Dictionary of American Slang" gives a 1907 date for a citation of "side-door Pullman" (note hyphen) from "My Life," by Jack London, no less. The quotation cited is "I rode into Niagara Falls in a 'side-door Pullman.'" Merry Christmas, Andy

Andy Sperandeo MODEL RAILROADER Magazine

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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, December 7, 2008 9:49 PM

My dad emigrated to this country in 1915. In the depths of the depression. He and his brother traveled across the Unites States from Chicago to California on the "Side Door Pullman" He regaled me with tales of the contest between the "bo's and the bull's". He said, "When you rode the rods you dumped before you got to the yard because the bulls would break your head for the bounty offered by the railroad. I don't know if the expression was in use in the "teen's", but it was in use in the depression. If you haven't seen it the "Emperor of the North" is the best movie I have ever seen on this subject. Again it is a portrayal of the depression but it is all I have to offer.

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