Labor Day 1890, in Grand Central Station, New York City, a Pullman porter named John Williams, assigned to station duty, put a piece of red cloth on his cap and asked people if he could help with their luggage. Thus Red Caps were born. For more than 100 years Red Caps have been helping people with their luggage FOR FREE. Leap ahead now to early 1943. A 2-year-old boy is on his way from Brooklyn to California to see his dad before he ships out to WWII. It was Cheyenne, Wyoming, and he, his mother, and brother were stretching their legs at a 10-minute station break. His mother turned her head, the boy quickly ducked inside the station and Mom panicked as the conductor shouted “All Abroad.” Just then, a man wearing a red cap appeared, holding the boy’s hand while saying, “Come on now, you got a train to catch.”
In 2014, that boy is standing in New York City’s Penn Station looking at the crowd waiting for their train track number to appear on the big board. He knows that when it appears, hundreds of people will run to the stairs to that train to secure a seat. Does he fear the pushing & shoving? No! Why? Because he has already talked to the man in the red cap. The boy, now a man, already knows the track number. He has his luggage & it’s packed to go. Ten minutes before that track number goes up on the big board, the Red Cap will say, “Come on now, you got a train to catch.” Way before anyone else, he leads me down to an empty train, helps me and my luggage into the car of my choice, and settles me into a seat with a window to watch the mad rush to the train when the Board lights “Track 14”!
They remind us of a time when “getting there” was part of the fun. Today “getting there” is something we endure to have fun. While planes filled with cramped passengers, lifting their overstuffed carry-ons into an undersized compartment overhead, I have a seat with a window on the world and a computer that never has to be turned off as it sits on a tray table that never has to be put in the upright position. This Labor Day I am heading back to New York for a wedding and you can be sure I will be enjoying the services of a Red Cap at both Union & Penn Stations. Take the time, take a train! If you want to experience the golden age of rail travel with overnight accommodations, fine dining, and an open bar, then take one of the Classic Pullman Rail Journeys from Chicago to New Orleans. I’ve experienced it and I will again. Don’t wait, remember: “Come on now, you got a train to catch!”
Patrick invites you to discover the tastiest culinary travel adventures in the United States and around the world through 4 Culinary Adventures’ Foodies on Land, Foodies at Sea, Festivals for Foodies, and Weekends 4 Foodies. And remember, your Weekend 4 Foodies can happen in the middle of the week. Any time is time to Travel, Eat, Learn.
Join Patrick Barney as he explores his love of travel & food around the world & in his home town of Las Vegas.