N&W in 1909--Station serenade

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Tue Apr 28 22:43:46 EDT 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
August 15, 1909

Colored Porters for Bluefield Hotels a Musical Lot
--Gamut Run and Harmony is Perfect

It does not happen anywhere else in the United States, and probably not in the world, but it happens in Bluefield, and the matter is worthy of some mention. The several hotels in the city have porters to meet the numerous trains on the Norfolk and Western. They line up on the stone steps at the passenger station on the right hand side leading from the men's waiting room, and starting with a deep bass at the bottom of the steps the gamut is run. It is practically the same as the do, re, mi, fa, so that the old timer used to get in singing school.
For instance the New Altamont man, who occupies a position at the bottom of the steps, starts in basso profundo with "the New Altamont hotel," and then the notes range through the Stag, the Windsor, the Avenue, the Bluefield, the Belmont, and the various other hostelries--eight in number. This high note is reached on the eight step of the station, and the harmony is perfect. [The last sentence of the article includes a racial comment and is omitted here.]
[There was a surprising large number of hotels in Bluefield then. This harmonizing on the station steps would have been something unique to have heard and seen.]

Gordon Hamilton
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