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The Night Porter: 1942

The Night Porter: 1942

March 1942. "Alfred MacMillan, Pullman porter resting in the men's washroom aboard the 'Capitol Limited' bound for Chicago." Acetate negative by Jack Delano. View full size.


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I am reminded of Edward Hopper's paintings "Compartment C, Car 193" and "Automat," among others.

A penny for your thoughts?

This is comparable to an Italian Renaissance masterwork. I need to buy a copy of this photo for my already over-crowded Shorpy wall downstairs. Jack Delano had a fine touch. And it doesn't hurt that he picked a handsome subject. As always with the best of art, photography or writing, I wish I knew more.

Sam McGee

Robert Service wrote of a porter who declined an offer of his books, saying his kids, aged two and three, loved his poems, but he himself liked Eliot and Auden.

Pullman Porter

“When I was quite a little boy
I used to savour them with joy;
And now my daughter, aged three,
Can tell the tale of Sam McGee;
While Tom, my son, that’s only two,
Has heard the yarn of Dan McGrew ....
Don’t think your stuff I’m not applaudin’ —
My taste is Eliot and Auden.”

So as we gravely bade adieu
I felt quite snubbed — and so would you.
And yet I shook him by the hand,
Impressed that he could understand
The works of those two tops I mention,
So far beyond my comprehension —
A humble bard of boys and barmen,
Disdained, alas! by Pullman carmen.

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