Tired of the sedentary life? Hitch a train to Iowa
by Elissa Haney
Where’s a hobo to go?
For wandering (and retired) hoboes, the hot travel destination this summer is north central Iowa. A little town called Britt has hosted the National Hobo Convention every August since the event’s inception in 1900. A mecca for wanderers, it is expected to draw thousands this year.
Despite the popular image of the hobo as a clown or a tramp, rail-riders have a real place in American history. The term “hobo” was probably derived from “hoe-boy,” an appropriate description for the migrant farm workers around the turn of the century who often toted their own tools wherever they traveled.
Third boxcar, midnight train;
destination Bangor, Maine.
Old worn out suits and shoes,
I don’t pay no Union dues…
I’m a man of means, by no means… king of the road.
from “King of the Road”, by Roger Miller
As the nation expanded westward after the Civil War, many veterans who had been left homeless picked up a transitory lifestyle. They would find work on farms or in construction, building dams, gas lines, or the railroad itself, and hop a train when the work ran out. Hoboism boomed again during the Great Depression as people hit the road in search of sustenance. The camps that hoboes set up while traveling during the time from the Civil War to the Great Depression were known as “jungles.”
While there are believed to have been hundreds of thousands of hoboes at one time, the count is likely to be only in the hundreds today. Modern hoboes commonly turn to the railroad in search of an independent lifestyle rather than out of necessity. They are lured by the freedom that comes with short-term work commitments, the opportunity to travel the country, the promise of adventure, and the camaraderie shared by those on the road.
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980) was an extensive traveler and former hobo.
After attending East Illinois State Teacher’s College and briefly playing professional football, folk singer and actor Burl Ives took to the rails, supporting himself by working odd jobs and playing the guitar for money.
William O. Douglas
Ten Famous Trains
The Hobo News
The National Hobo Convention will be attended by current hoboes, those who hoboed earlier in their lives, and many stationary folks who appreciate the personal freedom symbolized by the hobo lifestyle. Festivities include the coronation of the Hobo King and Queen, a craft and flea market, a gospel concert, the consumption of traditional mulligan stew, and, of course, lots of storytelling.
Information Please® Database, © 2006 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Posted by vern | Posted in Friends, Resourceful Living, Winnebago Experience | Posted on 27-02-2007
The hits to our site just tripled. Danny Simon is working on a design for us. Our next plan is to make shirts and hand them out to homeless people. Also, we’ve started passing out business cards. Sometimes we just throw them on the streets. Today, we we’re filming at the “Family Guy” studio and I left some cards about in there.
Here are some random links:
www.nunomad.com — site about wandering travelers making a living off of technology, etc…
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=89062 — thread to a blurb about us on DVXuser.com, you can post.
www.hobo.com — pretty much the original hobo website, including home of the HOBO CONVENTION in Britt, Iowa.
Definition of a Hobo:
A migratory worker. Vagrant. Tramp
How to say Hobo in Polish:
Gotta go, coffee shop is closing…
Jeff plays the banjo and harmonica — Venice, CA
Here’s the latest. (Sorry, it’s been a while).
Luis knocks on our door every morning at 6am. A disgruntled security guard trying to to his job. Here’s the story:
We’ve been living in an abandoned neighborhood for the past 6 months. Light traffic, no neighbors to bother (except for the occassional other RV), and a security company that left us alone. A few weeks ago, they decided to get everyone out. All the RVs. In their defense, the place had gotten pretty nasty. RVs were everywhere. People leaving trash everywhere, peeing in bottles and leaving them on the sidewalk, tying clothes lines from their RVs to the fences-just being disrespectful. For the record, we at the hobosoul are clean. We do pee in the grass sometimes, no harm done. Dogs do it all the time.
So, they threatened to tow. Twice. Trick is though, is that we’re on a public street. They legally can’t tow. I asked the cops. (Not telling them I live in an RV…). Yet they continue to threaten. Just two days ago, they said that we needed a special permit to park in the neighborhood (this coming after I talked with the security officer (Luis) and the company that owns the apartments. Bullsh*t. That’s what I was after coming home to that notice. And well, I couldn’t fall asleep cause I was busy concocting all sorts of things that I could do get them to leave us alone. I finally fell asleep, and but I woke before 6 and then of course, Luis knocked and beeped. What a nice man.
In the end, I need sleep more than I needed to worry about what to do with Luis. I started the Winnebago to leave and while battening down the hatches, I see the cops round the corner…and drive right by me. All the shades were still drawn, so I don’t know if they stared me down, but I decided I needed to leave. Forgetting that I hadn’t closed most cabinets and candles, plants etc were on the counters/tables-I threw on the captain’s hat and got out of the neighborhood.
To top off my so far great morning, it started to rain as soon as I left. Now I had to walk 2-3 blocks back to my car in the rain.
The life of a hobo isn’t always glorious. But it is always an adventure.
Which is your favorite?
When you live in a Winnebago with another person, if one gets sick, the other gets sick. It’s just part of the experience.
Vern did it to me, and I’m battling it. Trying to battle it. Don’t come over now, it’s not a good idea.
Enjoy this photo of me, last time I was sick.