Read CHAPTER XVIII of The Life and Adventures of Nat Love Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick", free online book, by Nat Love, on

The pullman service. Life on the rail. My first trip. A slump in tips. I become disgusted and quit. A period of husking. My next trip on the pullman. Tips and the people who give them.

After my marriage in Denver, I rented a small cottage which I comfortably furnished and we, Mrs. Love and myself, started to housekeeping in a modest way. Then I began to look around for a job, but to a man who was used to the excitement and continual action of the range and the cattle ranches, the civilized and quiet life of the city is apt to prove stale and uninteresting. It was that way with me, and after passing up several jobs offered to me I thought I would try railroading for awhile, probably for the same reason that prompted me to leave home twenty years before; I still wanted to see the world. With that idea in mind, I went to the Pullman offices in Denver, and after making some inquiries I was directed to the office of Superintendent Rummels who was at that time superintendent of the Pullman service.

A Mr. Wright was his assistant. I found Superintendent Rummels in his office, and I asked him if he wanted to hire any more porters. He asked me if I had ever worked for the Pullman company. I told him no that I had been a cowboy ever since I was 16 years old. He then asked me if I had money enough to buy my pullman uniform. I asked him how much it would cost and he said $22.00. I told him yes, I had the price. He asked me if I knew any one in Denver. I told him yes and gave him the name of Mr. Sprangler who had my money in his bank. Supt. Rummels told me to get a letter from Mr. Sprangler and he would put me on. So I went and got the letter and with it the money to pay for my uniform, after having my measure taken and sending for my suit. I borrowed a uniform from one of the other porters and the second day after I called on the superintendent I was sent on the run between Denver and Salida. One of the old men put me on to my duties and showed me how to make up my car and the general run of things.

On my first trip I found a kind friend in the Pullman conductor, a Mr. Keely, who helped me in many ways and I suppose I made many blunders as the difference between a Pullman car and the back of a Texas mustang is very great. However I managed to get around among the passengers in my car, and attend to their needs in some sort of a way.

My first trouble commenced when I succeeded in getting the shoes of passengers which had been given to me to polish, badly mixed up. The shoes of a portly red faced man whose berth was in the forward end of the car, I placed by the berth of a tall and slim western yankee at the other end of the car, while a number 7 and a number 9 shoe were placed decorously by the berth of a sour spinster from New York. This naturally caused a good sized rumpus the next morning. And sundry blessings were heaped on the head of yours truly. Nearly all the passengers were mad and the tips were conspicuous by their absence. That made me mad and thoroughly disgusted with the job. On returning to Denver I again called on Superintendent Rummels and told him that I had enough of the Pullman service, and would rather go back to the cattle and the range. Superintendent Rummels tried to persuade me to stay with it saying I had done all right, and would improve with experience but I was thoroughly disgusted and wanted no more of it, so I turned in my keys, got my uniform and walked out. So again I was without a job.

After going around Denver for several days, it struck me that there was money to be made selling fruit, vegetables, honey and chickens around the town. Accordingly I purchased a horse and wagon and an assorted stock and started out on my new vocation. This proved profitable from the start and I made good money which caused me to stay with it for nearly a year, when my natural restfulness caused me to become discontented and to yearn for more excitement and something a little faster so I disposed of my stock, horse and wagon, and started out to look for something else to do, but that something else was about as hard to find as the proverbial needle in the straw stack, at that particular time. Whether it was fate or the talk of the other porters whom I met I finally concluded to give the Pullman service another try. Accordingly I called on Mr. J. M. Smith who was now district superintendent of the Pullman service and asked him for a job. He asked me if I had been in the company’s service before and I told him yes. He asked me how long and I told him one trip, and I told him why I quit, and that the tips were too slow for me. He asked me if I thought it was any better now, and I said I did not know whether it was any better or not but that I thought I could do better.

He told me the whole secret of success was in pleasing all my passengers. I told him I thought it was all right about pleasing two or three passengers but when it came to pleasing a whole car full of passengers, that was another matter. He said to try anyway. He than assigned me to a car running on the narrow gauge line between Denver and Alamosa, Creed and Durango. This was the real beginning of my Pullman service.

I ran on the Colorado roads under Superintendent Smith for a number of years and always found him courteous and obliging, always ready and willing to help us with advice and counsel, but what proved a mystery to me for a long time was how the superintendent managed to find out things that happened on my car when he was not present. Sometimes when I went to report or met him he would question me about things that happened on my run, such as pleasing the passengers and other things, which I did not suppose he knew a thing about and inquiries among the other trainmen only deepened the mystery.

I would ask the Pullman conductor if he told the superintendent such and such a thing and he would say no. Then I would ask him how the superintendent knew about them as he was not on the train. He would say he did not know. This kept up until finally I made up my mind that if there ever was a clairvoyant the superintendent certainly was one.

The fact that he was able to find out things that happened hundreds of miles away without any one telling him, kept me worked up for a long time until I finally tumbled to the special agents who are employed to travel as common passengers and report how things are going to the superintendent. That explained the whole mystery, but it did not in any way make me move easy in my mind, because if a special agent was along one trip, there was no reason to think that one was not along every trip. At least I made up my mind there was, and governed myself accordingly, but the increased attention given to my passengers as a result caused an increase in the tips, that came my way. With the increase in my earnings and the experience I was gaining I came to have a liking for the service, which is in no wise diminished at this time. I soon learned the knack of pleasing the greater number of my passengers, and this reported to the superintendent by the special agents raised me in the official’s favor with the result that I was given more extensive and more profitable runs and soon became one of the most popular porters in Colorado. This brought with it increased responsibilities as well as increased profits and favors enjoyed.

When I started to work it was for $15.00 per month this has been increased from time to time until at present owing to my long service and having gained a thorough knowledge of my business, I am often made porter in charge. This position pays me as high as $40.00 per month. The difference between a porter and a porter in charge is that a porter generally has a car over which a Pullman conductor presides, which the porter in charge owing to his long service and his knowledge of the business is placed in full charge of a car, making the services of a Pullman conductor unnecessary. A porter in the employ of the Pullman company for ten years and giving good service for that time receives from the company two suits of clothes per year, and other privileges not enjoyed by the beginner.

A porter just beginning in the service has to purchase his own uniform, the cost of which is never less than $20.00 for the summer suit or $22.00 for the winter suit. After five years of good service a porter is entitled to wear one white stripe on his coat sleeve to which one is added for every succeeding five years of good service. Naturally the porter that understands his business and gives his whole attention to the passengers in his car and to his work, will make more money than the porter who has not the patience to try and please his passengers. I have had porters complain to me about the small amount they were able to earn in the service and on questioning them I found it was wholly because they did not think it necessary to try and make friends of the people in their car. I early recognized the fact that if I expected to succeed in the Pullman service I must make all the friends I could on my runs, and the cases are very rare where I have failed to receive a tip of some kind from my passengers, although as it happens sometimes I have people in my car who are not very well blessed with this world’s goods, and who can ill afford to spend money in tips. To such people I always give the same attention and care, as if I was sure to receive a $10 tip, and they rarely failed to give me a kind thank you, on leaving my car. In the course of our duties we naturally meet all manner of people, the business man out for business or pleasure, the drummers who nearly always give us a tip; the wife going to join her sick husband or the husband hurrying home to the bedside of his sick child; the invalid in search of health, or the family going home to attend the funeral of a loved one; the young man going to be married, and the young couple on their honeymoon; the capitalist, the miner, the sportsman and the vast army of people that go to make up the traveling public, who like the sands of the desert are forever shifting around from place to place, and with whom we porters are brought in closer contact perhaps than any one else on their travels. We must necessarily be good judges of human nature to be able to please the majority of the people who travel under our care. We nearly always receive a tip from those who ride with us for any distance. The size of the tip often depends on the mode of the passenger giving it. Even those who ride with us only a short distance often give us a tip of more generous proportions than will the man who has ridden with us several thousands of miles. The superintendent himself when he rides in our car, we are sure to receive from him 25 cents or 50 cents for a day or a day’s ride.

The smallest tip I have received from a passenger during my service was 2 cents. This amount I received from a rather cranky individual, who when I went to brush him off handed me two copper cents and followed them up with the remark that some of us porters needed calling down and some needed knocking down. My opinion if what he needed caused me to smile, wherein he wanted to know what I was smiling at. Needless to say I did not feel like wasting any more breath on him so I bundled his boxes and satchel out on the platform and left him to follow at his leisure.

The largest tips I ever received from a single traveler was $25.00 given me by one of the Rothschilds whom I brought from Chicago to Frisco, but this has been largely surpassed several times in car tips or trips. The Knights Templar one of whose cars I had charge of between Denver and Boston made, up a purse of $150.00 and presented it to me with the compliments of the passengers in recognition of the good service I had rendered them. While in charge of the private car of General Manager Fisher in a trip through California and Mexico, Mr. Fisher made up a purse of $75.00 for me, in recognition of my attentions to the members of his party. But the man who gave me 5 cents received as much attention from me as the man who gives me $5.00. It is perhaps all he can afford and the manner in which he gives it often makes up for the smallness of the tip.