From the Rear of the Train:
My Story as Eisenhower’s Porter to Innovator on the Santa Fe Railway
Larry Wright Book Launch Ceremony
Sunday, August 11, 2019 2 pm
Great Overland Station, East Gallery
Lawrence G. Wright had a distinguished 39-year career with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway spanning the years 1956 – 1995. His just-published book, “From the Rear of the Train: My Story as Eisenhower’s Porter to Innovator on the Santa Fe Railway”, tells a unique story from his perspective as a Black employee of the railroad. The book chronicles his experiences, achievements and struggles, told in Larry’s own colorful, personal way.
The author’s son, Larry Wright Jr., will speak about the book and its significance. A “railroad man” himself, Larry Jr. completed a 34-year career with the ATSF/BNSF Railway, ultimately serving as Director of Training Services Development. He worked tirelessly with his father and mother to ensure publication of this book.
Participating in the program will be Elizabeth Farnsworth, a native Topekan, former Chief Correspondent for the PBS Newshour, and Producer-Director of several award-winning documentaries. She characterizes the book as “informative, disturbing, inspiring and sometimes very funny. Larry Wright is an American hero.”
Also providing perspective on the book will be Tom Averill, novelist and Professor Emeritus of English at Washburn, who has taught Kansas Literature for over 40 years and has an abiding interest in all things Kansas.
Books will be available on site for $10. Author Larry Wright will sign autographs as requested. There is no admission fee for this event.
Larry Wright arrived in Topeka in 1952 with a football scholarship in hand to play at the Kansas Technical Institute, a black school. When the school closed not long after, Larry went to work at various Topeka businesses, including the popular Chocolate Shop restaurant and the Jayhawk Hotel. Because of his strong work ethic and winning personality, a friend recommended him to the AT&SF Railway for the job of Business Car Porter, where he soon was serving some of the railroad’s highest officers. When he was assigned to former President Eisenhower’s train as it traveled from Gettysburg PA to Palm Springs CA, Larry developed a friendship with President and Mrs. Eisenhower, and from that point on the Eisenhowers requested his service for every subsequent semi-annual trip.
After passage of the Civil Rights Act, Larry sought opportunities to move into positions not previously open to persons of color. He became a Claim Agent, and eventually a Manager in the Personnel Department in Topeka and in Chicago. Larry initiated many changes on the AT&SF Railway that still stand today. He lived through and personally experienced great change in the railroad industry and in our nation itself, and his lively stories reflect that era of our collective history.