Jim Kershner’s this day in history
From our archives, 100 years ago
The Northern Pacific Railroad gathered together “40 Negro waiters, all of whom boast vocal accomplishments,” to entertain the passengers on its North Coast Limited trains.
Their featured number? “The Great Big Baked Potato,” a song that celebrated one of the Northern Pacific dining car’s trademark dishes.
The chorus went like this: “Oh, you great big baked potato / You are Irish thro’ and thro’ / You may talk of your onions your garlic or stew / But just try that potato / It’s good for you / If you want a sure-thing hunch / For breakfast, dinner or lunch / On the NPRR / In the dining car / Get a great big baked potato!”
The waiters were divided into quartets and assigned to various dining cars on the main route.
“Some of the waiters also play guitars and mandolins,” a railroad spokesman said. “They will make a specialty of our own song, but also sing plantation songs and melodies and other selections.”
Also on this date
(From the Associated Press)
1968: Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 39, was shot to death as he stood on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. (James Earl Ray later pleaded guilty to assassinating King, then spent the rest of his life claiming he’d been the victim of a setup.)