“They tell me Daddy Joe could walk flatfooted down the center of the coach and let down berths on both sides of the aisle.”
“Any porter who hears the whistle of the 11:59 has got exactly twenty-four hours to clear up earthly matters. He better be ready when the train comes the next night. All us porters got to board that train one day. Ain’t no way to escape the final ride on the 11:59.”
“No, I’m not ready. I’ve got plenty of living yet.”
Every day Lester Simmons, a former Pullman car porter, went to the St. Louis Union Station to shine shoes for a little extra cash. While he was there he told tall tales and stories about the early Pullman days to the newcomers. One of them was the tale of Daddy Joe, their larger than life hero.
“I won’t eat or drink anything all day. That way I can’t choke, die of food poisoning, or cause a cooking fire.”
One story that some of the newcomers had yet to hear was the story of the 11:59. The 11:59 (or the Phantom Death Train) was an old tale told by the porters.
“It’s your time, good brother.”
As Lester walked home, he heard the horrid sound of a train whistle from a far away distance. He knew no trains were scheduled to come at this time until the morning. Nervously, he checked his watch, 11: 59. Scared, Lester picked up his pace and walked faster.
Lester quickly entered his small apartment and started making a plan to cheat death. He was not ready to board the 11: 59 just yet. Scared, he didn't eat, drink or do anything in fear of death.
Lester had fallen asleep in his time waiting, shorty after he awoke he heard the train whistle again. This time closer then before. Just then he saw a few of his old Porter buddies who had already taken the 11:59 as ghosts in the porters blue uniform right by his side.
Lester saw the shimmering beam of a single headlight and the train whistle one last time. When he didn't come to the shoeshine for two days in a row, his friends went over to his place. They saw poor Lester on the floor with his eyes fixed on something remarkable. His watch that read 11:59.