RUNNING WITH MR. BELL
ASIN BOODBEOD40 Ebook $3.99 (Amazon)
RUNNING WITH MR. BELL is a novel about trains and the people who ran the trains. For nearly a century the American passenger train bedazzled the world with its glitz and splendor. In the late 1800s railroad magnate George M. Pullman took passenger trains to new heights, and in the process made so many enemies that he left burial instructions that upon his death his grave be encased in steel so his enemies couldn’t defile his body. The enemies he worried about were his disgruntled employees.
This is a story about two extraordinary black men who served Mr. Pullman nobly for over forty years as sleeping car porters, and about how that service nearly destroyed both of their families by turning brother against brother. One of those men regarded Mr. Pullman as a benefactor of the Negro race.“Thank the Lord for Mr. Pullman. Where else can a black man find a good job like this one that allows him to travel and see all the possibilities in life,” Harold Darden said proudly about being a sleeping car porter. Despite his fifth-grade education, he became Mr. Pullman’s most trusted advisor on Negro affairs. Having no children of his own, Harold Darden had big dreams for his nephew Frank in the company.
Harold’s good friend Claude Bell, the other powerful Negro in the company, viewed the Pullman Company quite differently. He belonged to a group of Pullman porters who wanted a union. They saw Mr. Pullman as a slave driver. Mr. Pullman hated unions. The company suspected Claude Bell of being their leader, but they feared firing him because he was so popular with the men.
“Claude’s my friend. He’s a nice guy, but I don’t want you getting involved in his labor activities. You can’t be too careful about the company you keep,” Harold Darden warned his young nephew Frank when the latter moved up to Chicago from Georgia and got a job at the Pullman Company, where he was assigned to work with Claude Bell.
Frank was torn between an uncle he loved very much and a man he admired and highly respected.Then Frank’s young brother Haley moved to Chicago and began working at the Pullman Company. Believing Frank had willfully ignored his advice about not getting too close to Claude Bell, Uncle Harold, disappointed and hurt, dropped Frank and transferred his dream to Haley—his dream of having one of his nephews appointed the first black vice president of the Pullman Company, an idea to which Mr. Pullman was amenable, provided the right Negro could be found. That resulted in turning brother against brothers that ended up in a murder and with Haley’s being banished from the Darden family in Georgia.Will this proud family ever be set right again?
Trains, unions and strikes, family feud, brother vs. brother, sleeping car porters, workers’ rights
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