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Hobo

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Two hoboes, one carrying a bindle, walking along railroad tracks after being put off a train (c.  1880s–1930s)
Two hoboes, one carrying a bindle, walking along railroad tracks after being put off a train (c.  1880s–1930s)

A hobo is a migrant worker in the United States.[1][2] Hoboes, tramps and bums are generally regarded as related, but distinct: a hobo travels and is willing to work; a tramp travels, but avoids work if possible; and a bum neither travels nor works.[3][4]

Etymology

The origin of the term is unknown. According to etymologist Anatoly Liberman, the only certain detail about its origin is the word was first noticed in American English circa 1890.[2] The term has also been dated to 1889 in the Western—probably NorthwesternUnited States,[5] and to 1888.[6] Liberman points out that many folk etymologies fail to answer the question: "Why did the word become widely known in California (just there) by the early Nineties (just then)?"[2] Author Todd DePastino notes that some have said that it derives from the term "hoe-boy", coming from the hoe they are using and meaning "farmhand", or a greeting such as "Ho, boy", but that he does not find these to be convincing explanations.[7] Bill Bryson suggests in Made in America (1998) that it could either come from the railroad greeting, "Ho, beau!" or a syllabic abbreviation of "homeward bound".[8] It could also come from the words "homeless boy" or "homeless Bohemian". H. L. Mencken, in his The American Language (4th ed., 1937), wrote:

Tramps and hobos are commonly lumped together, but in their own sight they are sharply differentiated. A hobo or bo is simply a migratory laborer; he may take some longish holidays, but soon or late he returns to work. A tramp never works if it can be avoided; he simply travels. Lower than either is the bum, who neither works nor travels, save when impelled to motion by the police.[9]

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Anatoly Liberman

Anatoly Liberman

Anatoly Liberman is a linguist, medievalist, etymologist, poet, translator of poetry, and literary critic.

American English

American English

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and in most circumstances is the de facto common language used in government, education and commerce. Since the 20th century, American English has become the most influential form of English worldwide.

Northwestern United States

Northwestern United States

The Northwestern United States, also known as the American Northwest or simply the Northwest, is an informal geographic region of the United States. The region consistently includes the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Some sources include Southeast Alaska in the Northwest. The related but distinct term "Pacific Northwest" generally excludes areas from the Rockies eastward, whereas the term "Inland Northwest" excludes areas west of the Cascades.

United States

United States

The United States of America, commonly known as the United States or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territories, nine Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. The United States is also in free association with three Pacific Island sovereign states: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. It is the world's third-largest country by both land and total area. It shares land borders with Canada to its north and with Mexico to its south. It has maritime borders with the Bahamas, Cuba, Russia, and other nations. With a population of over 333 million, it is the most populous country in the Americas and the third most populous in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C. and the most populous city and financial center is New York City.

Folk etymology

Folk etymology

Folk etymology is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familiar one. The form or the meaning of an archaic, foreign, or otherwise unfamiliar word is reinterpreted as resembling more familiar words or morphemes.

Todd DePastino

Todd DePastino

Todd DePastino is an author and history professor.

Hoe (tool)

Hoe (tool)

A hoe is an ancient and versatile agricultural and horticultural hand tool used to shape soil, remove weeds, clear soil, and harvest root crops. Shaping the soil includes piling soil around the base of plants (hilling), digging narrow furrows (drills) and shallow trenches for planting seeds or bulbs. Weeding with a hoe includes agitating the surface of the soil or cutting foliage from roots, and clearing the soil of old roots and crop residues. Hoes for digging and moving soil are used to harvest root crops such as potatoes.

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson

William McGuire Bryson is an American–British journalist and author. Bryson has written a number of nonfiction books on topics including travel, the English language, and science. Born in the United States, he has been a resident of Britain for most of his adult life, returning to the U.S. between 1995 and 2003, and holds dual American and British citizenship. He served as the chancellor of Durham University from 2005 to 2011.

Made in America (book)

Made in America (book)

Made in America is a nonfiction book by Bill Bryson describing the history of the English language in the United States and the evolution of American culture.

Bohemianism

Bohemianism

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people and with few permanent ties. It involves musical, artistic, literary, or spiritual pursuits. In this context, bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds. Bohemian is a 19th-century historical and literary topos that places the milieu of young metropolitan artists and intellectuals—particularly those of the Latin Quarter in Paris—in a context of poverty, hunger, appreciation of friendship, idealization of art and contempt for money. Based on this topos, the most diverse real-world subcultures are often referred to as "bohemian" in a figurative sense, especially if they show traits of a precariat.

H. L. Mencken

H. L. Mencken

Henry Louis Mencken was an American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic, and scholar of American English. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians, and contemporary movements. His satirical reporting on the Scopes Trial, which he dubbed the "Monkey Trial", also gained him attention.

The American Language

The American Language

The American Language; An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, first published in 1919, is H. L. Mencken's book about the English language as spoken in the United States.

History

Two men riding underneath a freight train, 1894
Two men riding underneath a freight train, 1894

While drifters have always existed, it is unclear exactly when hoboes first appeared on the American railroading scene. With the end of the American Civil War in the 1860s, many discharged veterans returning home began hopping freight trains. Others looking for work on the American frontier followed the railways west aboard freight trains in the late 19th century.

In 1906, Professor Layal Shafee, after an exhaustive study, put the number of tramps in the United States at about 500,000 (about 0.6% of the US population at the time). His article "What Tramps Cost Nation" was published by The New York Telegraph in 1911, when he estimated the number had surged to 700,000.[10]

The number of hoboes increased greatly during the Great Depression era of the 1930s.[11] With no work and no prospects at home, many decided to travel for free by freight train and try their luck elsewhere.

Life as a hobo was dangerous. In addition to the problems of being itinerant, poor, and far from home and support, plus the hostility of many train crews, they faced the railroad police, nicknamed "bulls", who had a reputation of violence against trespassers.[12] Moreover, riding on a freight train is dangerous in itself. British poet W. H. Davies, author of The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, lost a foot when he fell under the wheels when trying to jump aboard a train. It was easy to be trapped between cars, and one could freeze to death in cold weather. When freezer cars were loaded at an ice factory, any hobo inside was likely to be killed.[13]

Around the end of World War II, railroads began to transition from steam to diesel locomotives, making jumping freight trains more difficult. This, in combination with increased postwar prosperity, led to a decline in the number of hoboes. In the 1970s and 1980s hobo numbers were augmented by returning Vietnam War veterans, many of whom were disillusioned with settled society. Overall, the national economic demand for a mobile surplus labor force has declined over time, leading to fewer hoboes.[14][15]

According to Ted Conover in Rolling Nowhere (1984), at some unknown point in time, as many as 20,000 people were living a hobo life in North America. Modern freight trains are much faster and thus harder to ride than in the 1930s, but they can still be boarded in railyards.[16]

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American Civil War

American Civil War

The American Civil War was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union and the Confederacy, the latter formed by states that had seceded. The central cause of the war was the dispute over whether slavery would be permitted to expand into the western territories, leading to more slave states, or be prevented from doing so, which was widely believed would place slavery on a course of ultimate extinction.

Freighthopping

Freighthopping

Freighthopping or trainhopping is the act of surreptitiously boarding and riding a freight railroad car, which is usually illegal.

American frontier

American frontier

The American frontier, also known as the Old West or the Wild West, encompasses the geography, history, folklore, and culture associated with the forward wave of American expansion in mainland North America that began with European colonial settlements in the early 17th century and ended with the admission of the last few western territories as states in 1912. This era of massive migration and settlement was particularly encouraged by President Thomas Jefferson following the Louisiana Purchase, giving rise to the expansionist attitude known as "Manifest Destiny" and the historians' "Frontier Thesis". The legends, historical events and folklore of the American frontier have embedded themselves into United States culture so much so that the Old West, and the Western genre of media specifically, has become one of the defining periods of American national identity.

Great Depression

Great Depression

The Great Depression (1929–1939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The economic contagion began around September and led to the Wall Street stock market crash of October 24. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century.

Railroad police

Railroad police

Railroad police or railway police are people responsible for the protection of railroad properties, facilities, revenue, equipment, and personnel, as well as carried passengers and cargo. Railroad police may also patrol public rail transit systems. Their exact roles differs from country to country. In some countries, railroad police are no different from any other police agency, while in others they are more like security police. Some are given extensive additional authority, while those in other jurisdictions are more restricted.

W. H. Davies

W. H. Davies

William Henry Davies was a Welsh poet and writer, who spent much of his life as a tramp or hobo in the United Kingdom and the United States, yet became one of the most popular poets of his time. His themes included observations on life's hardships, the ways the human condition is reflected in nature, his tramping adventures and the characters he met. He is usually classed as a Georgian Poet, though much of his work is not typical of the group in style or theme.

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp is an autobiography published in 1908 by the Welsh poet and writer W. H. Davies (1871–1940). A large part of the book's subject matter describes the way of life of the tramp in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States in the final decade of the 19th century.

World War II

World War II

World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global conflict that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries, including all of the great powers, fought as part of two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. Many participants threw their economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind this total war, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. Aircraft played a major role, enabling the strategic bombing of population centres and the only two nuclear weapons ever used in war.

Diesel engine

Diesel engine

The diesel engine, named after Rudolf Diesel, is an internal combustion engine in which ignition of the fuel is caused by the elevated temperature of the air in the cylinder due to mechanical compression; thus, the diesel engine is called a compression-ignition engine. This contrasts with engines using spark plug-ignition of the air-fuel mixture, such as a petrol engine or a gas engine.

Vietnam War

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The north was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist states, while the south was supported by the United States and other anti-communist allies. The war is widely considered to be a Cold War-era proxy war. It lasted almost 20 years, with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973. The conflict also spilled over into neighboring states, exacerbating the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, which ended with all three countries becoming communist states by 1975.

American middle class

American middle class

Though the American middle class does not have a definitive definition, contemporary social scientists have put forward several ostensibly congruent theories on it. Depending on the class model used, the middle class constitutes anywhere from 25% to 75% of households.

Ted Conover

Ted Conover

Ted Conover is an American author and journalist who has been called a "master of immersion" and "master of experience-based narrative nonfiction." A graduate of Amherst College and a former Marshall Scholar, he is also a professor and past director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University. He teaches graduate courses in the New York University Literary Reportage concentration, as well as undergraduate courses on the "journalism of empathy" and undercover reporting.

Culture

Expressions used through the 1940s

Hoboes were noted for, among other things, the distinctive lingo that arose among them. Some examples follow:

Hobo term Explanation
Accommodation car the caboose of a train
Angellina a young inexperienced child
Bad road a train line rendered useless by some hobo's bad action or crime
Banjo (1) a small portable frying pan; (2) a short, "D"-handled shovel, generally used for shoveling coal
Barnacle a person who sticks to one job a year or more
Beachcomber a hobo who hangs around docks or seaports
Big house prison
Bindle stick a collection of belongings wrapped in cloth and tied around a stick
Bindlestiff a hobo who carries a bindle
Blowed-in-the-glass a genuine, trustworthy individual
'Bo the common way one hobo referred to another: "I met that 'bo on the way to Bangor last spring."
Boil up specifically, to boil one's clothes to kill lice and their eggs; generally, to get oneself as clean as possible
Bone polisher a mean dog
Bone orchard a graveyard
Bull a railroad officer
Bullets beans
Buck a Catholic priest, good for a dollar
Burger today's lunch
C, H, and D indicates an individual is "Cold, Hungry, and Dry" (thirsty)
California blankets newspapers, intended to be used for bedding on a park bench
Calling in using another's campfire to warm up or cook
Cannonball a fast train
Carrying the banner keeping in constant motion so as to avoid being picked up for loitering or to keep from freezing
Catch the westbound to die
Chuck a dummy pretend to faint
Cooties body lice
Cover with the moon sleep out in the open
Cow crate a railroad stock car
Crumbs lice
Docandoberry anything edible that grows on a riverbank
Doggin' it traveling by bus, especially on the Greyhound bus line
Easy mark a hobo sign or mark that identifies a person or place where one can get food and a place to stay overnight
Elevated under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Flip to board a moving train
Flop a place to sleep, by extension, "flophouse", a cheap hotel
Glad rags one's best clothes
Graybacks lice
Grease the track to be run over by a train
Gump a chicken[17]
Honey dipping working with a shovel in the sewer
Hot (1) a fugitive hobo; (2) a hot or decent meal: "I could use a hot and a flop"
Hot shot a train with priority freight, stops rarely, goes faster; synonym for "Cannonball"
Jungle an area off a railroad where hoboes camp and congregate
Jungle buzzard a hobo or tramp who preys on his own
Knowledge bus a school bus used for shelter
Maeve a young hobo, usually a girl
Main drag the busiest road in a town
Moniker / Monica a nickname
Mulligan stew a type of community stew, created by several hoboes combining whatever food they have or can collect
Nickel note a five-dollar bill
On the fly jumping a moving train
Padding the hoof to travel by foot
Possum belly to ride on the roof of a passenger car (one must lie flat, on his/her stomach, to avoid being blown off)
Pullman a railroad sleeper car; most were once made by the George Pullman company
Punk any young kid
Reefer a compression or "refrigerator car"
Road kid a young hobo who apprentices himself to an older hobo in order to learn the ways of the road
Road stake the small reserve amount of money a hobo may keep in case of an emergency
Rum dum a drunkard
Sky pilot a preacher or minister
Soup bowl a place to get soup, bread and drinks
Snipes cigarette butts "sniped" (e.g., from ashtrays or sidewalks)
Spare biscuits looking for food in a garbage can
Stemming panhandling or begging along the streets
Tokay blanket drinking alcohol to stay warm
Yegg a traveling professional thief, or burglar

Many hobo terms have become part of common language, such as "big house", "glad rags", "main drag", and others.

Hobo signs and graffiti

1920s guide to a supposed traditional beggar's code in France.1. Poor welcome, disagreeable people. 2. Danger. 3. Beware of prison. 4. Nothing doing. 5. Eats. 6. Can get anything by threatening. 7. Do not threaten the people in the house. 8. Take vengeance. 9. Might give in. 10. Look out for the dog. 11. Brutal owner. 12. Money given here. 13. Men and dogs ready to attack. 14. Woman alone with child or servant. 15. Hard luck stories are profitable. 16. Charity given. 17. Insist and they'll give in. 18. Talk religion
1920s guide to a supposed traditional beggar's code in France.
1. Poor welcome, disagreeable people. 2. Danger. 3. Beware of prison. 4. Nothing doing. 5. Eats. 6. Can get anything by threatening. 7. Do not threaten the people in the house. 8. Take vengeance. 9. Might give in. 10. Look out for the dog. 11. Brutal owner. 12. Money given here. 13. Men and dogs ready to attack. 14. Woman alone with child or servant. 15. Hard luck stories are profitable. 16. Charity given. 17. Insist and they'll give in. 18. Talk religion

Almost from the beginning of the existence of hoboes, as early as the 1870s,[18] it was reported that hoboes communicated with each other by way of a system of cryptic "hobo signs", which would be chalked in prominent or relevant places to clandestinely alert future hoboes about important local information. Many listings of these symbols have been made. A few symbols include:

  • A triangle with hands, signifying that the homeowner has a gun.[19]
  • A horizontal zigzag signifying a barking dog.[20]
  • A circle with two parallel arrows meaning "Get out fast," as hoboes are not welcome in the area.[20]
  • A cat signifying that a kind lady lives here.[20]

Reports of hoboes using these symbols appeared in newspapers and popular books straight through the Depression, and continue to turn up in American popular culture; for example, John Hodgman's book The Areas of My Expertise features a section on hobo signs listing signs found in newspapers of the day as well as several whimsical ones invented by Hodgman,[21] and the Free Art and Technology Lab released a QR Hobo Code, with a QR stenciler, in July 2011.[22] Displays on hobo signs have been exhibited in the Steamtown National Historic Site at Scranton, Pennsylvania, operated by the National Park Service, and in the National Cryptologic Museum in Annapolis Junction, Maryland,[23][24] and Webster's Third New International Dictionary supplies a listing of hobo signs under the entry for "hobo".[25]

Mailbox at Jimmy Carter National Historical Park. The symbols on the post were originally drawn by hoboes during the Great Depression.
Mailbox at Jimmy Carter National Historical Park. The symbols on the post were originally drawn by hoboes during the Great Depression.

Despite an apparently strong record of authentication, however, there is doubt as to whether hobo signs were ever actually in practical use by hoboes. The alternative hypothesis is that the signs were invented early on by a writer or writers seeking to add to the fantastical mythos that began to surround hoboes soon after they first appeared; this fabrication, then, was perpetuated and embellished by writers over the years, aided occasionally by hoboes willing to make up a colorful story or pose for a photo.[18] Several hoboes during the days that the signs were reportedly most in use asserted that they were in fact a "popular fancy" or "a fabrication".[18] Nels Anderson, who both hoboed himself and studied hoboes extensively for a University of Chicago master's thesis,[18] wrote in 1932,

Another merit of the book [Godfrey Irwin's 1931 American Tramp and Underworld Slang] is that the author has not subscribed to the fiction that American tramps have a sign language, as so many professors are wont to believe.[26]

Though newspapers in the early and peak days of hoboing (1870s through the Depression) printed photos and drawings of hoboes leaving these signs, these may have been staged in order to add color to the story. Nonetheless, it is certain that hoboes have used some graffiti to communicate, in the form of "monikers" (sometimes "monicas"). These generally consisted simply of a road name (moniker), a date, and the direction the hobo was heading then. This would be written in a prominent location where other hoboes would see it. Jack London, in recounting his hobo days, wrote,

Water-tanks are tramp directories. Not all in idle wantonness do tramps carve their monicas, dates, and courses. Often and often have I met hoboes earnestly inquiring if I had seen anywhere such and such a "stiff" or his monica. And more than once I have been able to give the monica of recent date, the water-tank, and the direction in which he was then bound. And promptly the hobo to whom I gave the information lit out after his pal. I have met hoboes who, in trying to catch a pal, had pursued clear across the continent and back again, and were still going.[27]

The use of monikers persists to this day, although since the rise of cell phones a moniker is more often used simply to "tag" a train car or location. Some moniker writers have tagged train cars extensively; one who tagged under the name Bozo Texino during the 1970s and ’80s estimated that in one year ("where I went overboard") he marked over 30,000 train cars.[28] However, not all moniker writers (or "boxcar artists") are hoboes; Bozo Texino in fact worked for the railroad, though others such as "A No. 1" and "Palm Tree Herby" rode trains as tramps or hoboes.[28][29]

Ethical code

Hobo culture—though it has always had many points of contact with the mainstream American culture of its day—has also always been somewhat separate and distinct, with different cultural norms. Hobo culture's ethics have always been subject to disapproval from the mainstream culture; for example, hopping freight trains, an integral part of hobo life, has always been illegal in the U.S. Nonetheless, the ethics of hobo culture can be regarded as fairly coherent and internally consistent, at least to the extent that any culture's various individual people maintain the same ethical standards. That is to say, any attempt at an exhaustive enumeration of hobo ethics is bound to be foiled at least to some extent by the diversity of hoboes and their ideas of the world. This difficulty has not kept hoboes themselves from attempting the exercise. An ethical code was created by Tourist Union #63 (a hobo union created in the mid-1800s to dodge anti-vagrancy laws, which did not apply to union members)[30] during its 1889 National Hobo Convention:[31]

  1. Decide your own life; don't let another person run or rule you.
  2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  3. Don't take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hoboes.
  4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
  5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals' treatment of other hoboes.
  7. When jungling in town, respect handouts and do not wear them out; another hobo will be coming along who will need them as badly, if not worse than you.
  8. Always respect nature; do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
  9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
  10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
  11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully. Take no personal chances. Cause no problems with operating crew or host railroad. Act like an extra crew member.
  12. Do not cause problems in a train yard; another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
  13. Do not allow other hoboes to molest children; expose all molesters to authorities – they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
  14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  15. Help your fellow hoboes whenever and wherever needed; you may need their help someday.
  16. If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts!

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Caboose

Caboose

A caboose is a crewed North American railroad car coupled at the end of a freight train. Cabooses provide shelter for crew at the end of a train, who were formerly required in switching and shunting, keeping a lookout for load shifting, damage to equipment and cargo, and overheating axles.

Frying pan

Frying pan

A frying pan, frypan, or skillet is a flat-bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and browning foods. It is typically 20 to 30 cm in diameter with relatively low sides that flare outwards, a long handle, and no lid. Larger pans may have a small grab handle opposite the main handle. A pan of similar dimensions, but with less flared, more vertical sides and often with a lid, is called a sauté pan. While a sauté pan can be used as a frying pan, it is designed for lower heat cooking.

Prison

Prison

A prison, also known as a jail, gaol, penitentiary, detention center, correction center, correctional facility, lock-up, hoosegow or remand center, is a facility in which inmates are confined against their will and usually denied a variety of freedoms under the authority of the state as punishment for various crimes. Prisons are most commonly used within a criminal justice system: people charged with crimes may be imprisoned until their trial; those pleading or being found guilty of crimes at trial may be sentenced to a specified period of imprisonment. In simplest terms, a prison can also be described as a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed.

Dog

Dog

The dog is a domesticated descendant of the wolf. Also called the domestic dog, it is derived from the extinct Pleistocene wolf, and the modern wolf is the dog's nearest living relative. Dogs were the first species to be domesticated by hunter-gatherers over 15,000 years ago before the development of agriculture. Due to their long association with humans, dogs have expanded to a large number of domestic individuals and gained the ability to thrive on a starch-rich diet that would be inadequate for other canids.

Bean

Bean

A bean is the seed of several plants in the family Fabaceae, which are used as vegetables for human or animal food. They can be cooked in many different ways, including boiling, frying, and baking, and are used in many traditional dishes throughout the world.

Priest

Priest

A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the 'priesthood', a term which also may apply to such persons collectively. A priest may have the duty to hear confessions periodically, give marriage counseling, provide prenuptial counseling, give spiritual direction, teach catechism, or visit those confined indoors, such as the sick in hospitals and nursing homes.

Newspaper

Newspaper

A newspaper is a periodical publication containing written information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a white or gray background.

Campfire

Campfire

A campfire is a fire at a campsite that provides light and warmth, and heat for cooking. It can also serve as a beacon, and an insect and predator deterrent. Established campgrounds often provide a stone or steel fire ring for safety. Campfires are a popular feature of camping. At summer camps, the word campfire often refers to an event at which there is a fire. Some camps refer to the fire itself as a campfire.

Bus

Bus

A bus is a road vehicle that carries significantly more passengers than an average car or van. It is most commonly used in public transport, but is also in use for charter purposes, or through private ownership. Although the average bus carries between 30 and 100 passengers, some buses have a capacity of up to 300 passengers. The most common type is the single-deck rigid bus, with double-decker and articulated buses carrying larger loads, and midibuses and minibuses carrying smaller loads. Coaches are used for longer-distance services. Many types of buses, such as city transit buses and inter-city coaches, charge a fare. Other types, such as elementary or secondary school buses or shuttle buses within a post-secondary education campus, are free. In many jurisdictions, bus drivers require a special large vehicle licence above and beyond a regular driving licence.

Flophouse

Flophouse

A flophouse or dosshouse is a place that offers very low-cost lodging, providing space to sleep and minimal amenities.

Fugitive

Fugitive

A fugitive is a person who is fleeing from custody, whether it be from jail, a government arrest, government or non-government questioning, vigilante violence, or outraged private individuals. A fugitive from justice, also known as a wanted person, can be a person who is either convicted or accused of a crime and hiding from law enforcement in the state or taking refuge in a different country in order to avoid arrest.

Nickname

Nickname

A nickname is a substitute for the proper name of a familiar person, place or thing. Commonly used to express affection, a form of endearment, and sometimes amusement, it can also be used to express defamation of character. As a concept, it is distinct from both pseudonym and stage name, and also from a title, although there may be overlap in these concepts.

Conventions

General

There are numerous hobo conventions throughout the United States each year. The ephemeral ways of hobo conventions are mostly dependent on the resources of their hosts. Some conventions are part of railroad conventions or "railroad days". Others are quasi-private affairs, hosted by long-time hoboes. Still others are ad hoc—that is, they are held surreptitiously on private land. Some of these conventions are held in abandoned quarries along major rivers.

Most non-mainstream conventions are held at current or historical railroad stops. The most notable is the National Hobo Convention held in Britt, Iowa. The town first hosted the Convention in 1900, but there followed a hiatus of thirty-three years. Since 1934 the convention has been held annually in Britt, on the second weekend in August.[32]

Notable persons

Notable hoboes

  • Jack Black, author of You Can't Win (1926) OCLC 238829961
  • Maurice W. Graham, a.k.a. "Steam Train Maury"
  • Joe Hill
  • Leon Ray Livingston, a.k.a. "A No.1"
  • Harry McClintock
  • Utah Phillips
  • Robert Joseph Silveria Jr., a.k.a. "Sidetrack", who killed 34 other hoboes before turning himself in to the authorities
  • T-Bone Slim
  • Bertha Thompson, a.k.a. "Boxcar Bertha", was widely believed to be a real person. Sister of the Road was penned by Ben Reitman and presented as an autobiography.
  • Jim Tully, an author who penned several pulp fiction books, 1928 through 1945.
  • Steven Gene Wold, a.k.a. "Seasick Steve"

Notables who have hoboed

Discover more about Notable persons related topics

Jack Black (author)

Jack Black (author)

Jack Black (1871–1932) was a hobo and professional burglar. Born in 1871 in New Westminster, British Columbia, he was raised from infancy in the U.S. state of Missouri in the town of Maysville and eventually Kansas City. He wrote You Can't Win, a memoir or sketched autobiography describing his days on the road and life as an outlaw. Black's book was written as an anti-crime book urging criminals to go straight, but it is also his statement of belief in the futility of prisons and the criminal justice system, hence the title of the book. Jack Black was writing from experience, having spent thirty years as a traveling criminal and offers tales of being a cross-country stick-up man, home burglar, petty thief, and opium fiend. He gained fame as a prison reformer, writer and playwright. He disappeared in 1932 in a likely suicide.

Maurice W. Graham

Maurice W. Graham

Maurice W. Graham, also known as Steam Train Maury, was the five-time holder of the title "King of the Hobos", and was later known as "Patriarch of the Hobos". Born to a broken home in Ohio, he was shunted from father to mother to aunt to married siblings. In 1931, at the age of 14, Graham began riding the rails as a hobo during the Great Depression. He settled in Toledo, Ohio, with his wife Wanda in the late 1930s, where he worked as a cement mason and founded a trade school for masons. During World War II, he served in the military as a medical technician. In 1969 he returned to the hobo life for another eleven years, finally retiring in 1980.

Joe Hill (activist)

Joe Hill (activist)

Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund and also known as Joseph Hillström, was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World. A native Swedish speaker, he learned English during the early 1900s, while working various jobs from New York to San Francisco. Hill, an immigrant worker frequently facing unemployment and underemployment, became a popular songwriter and cartoonist for the union. His most famous songs include "The Preacher and the Slave", "The Tramp", "There Is Power in a Union", "The Rebel Girl", and "Casey Jones—the Union Scab", which express the harsh and combative life of itinerant workers, and call for workers to organize their efforts to improve working conditions.

Leon Ray Livingston

Leon Ray Livingston

Leon Ray Livingston (1872–1944) was a famous hobo and author, travelling under the name "A-No.1" and often referred to as "The Rambler." He perfected the hobo symbols system, which let other hobos know where there are generous people, free food, jobs, vicious dogs, and so forth. He was not a poor man; he simply preferred a life of travelling the country by train to sitting at home. In his memoir The Ways of the Hobo, Livingston admitted that he was uneducated, but began his self-education at the age of 35.

Harry McClintock

Harry McClintock

Harry Kirby McClintock, also known as "Haywire Mac", was an American railroad man, radio personality, actor, singer, songwriter, and poet, best known for his song "Big Rock Candy Mountain".

Robert Joseph Silveria Jr.

Robert Joseph Silveria Jr.

Robert Joseph Silveria Jr., also known as The Boxcar Killer, is an American serial killer currently serving double life sentences in Wyoming. Silveria was also convicted in Kansas for the killing of Charles Randall Boyd, and in Florida for the killing of Willie Clark.

Ben Reitman

Ben Reitman

Ben Lewis Reitman M.D. (1879–1943) was an American anarchist and physician to the poor. He is best remembered today as one of radical Emma Goldman's lovers.

Jim Tully

Jim Tully

Jim Tully was an American vagabond, pugilist, and writer. He enjoyed critical and commercial success as a writer in the 1920s and 1930s.

Seasick Steve

Seasick Steve

Steven Gene Wold, commonly known as Seasick Steve, is an American blues musician. He plays mostly personalized guitars and sings, usually about his early life doing casual work. From the late 1960s, he worked as a musician and recording engineer in the US and Europe; he played bass in Shanti and was in a disco band called Crystal Grass as well as other bands. He also pursued other works, including producing an album for Modest Mouse. He achieved his breakthrough, initially in the UK, at the end of 2006 when he appeared on Jools Holland's annual Hootenanny as Seasick Steve. He has since released a number of commercially successful albums, including I Started Out with Nothin and I Still Got Most of It Left, Man from Another Time, and Sonic Soul Surfer.

Nels Anderson

Nels Anderson

Nels Anderson was an early American sociologist who studied hobos, urban culture, and work culture.

Raúl Héctor Castro

Raúl Héctor Castro

Raúl Héctor Castro was a Mexican American politician, diplomat and judge. In 1964, Castro was selected to be U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, a position he held until 1968 when he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia. In 1974, Castro was elected to serve as the 14th governor of Arizona, and resigned two years into his term to become U.S. Ambassador to Argentina. Prior to his entry into public service, Castro was a lawyer and a judge for Pima County, Arizona. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

Ralph Chaplin

Ralph Chaplin

Ralph Hosea Chaplin (1887–1961) was an American writer, artist and labor activist. At the age of seven, he saw a worker shot dead during the Pullman Strike in Chicago, Illinois. He had moved with his family from Ames, Kansas to Chicago in 1893. During a time in Mexico he was influenced by hearing of the execution squads established by Porfirio Díaz, and became a supporter of Emiliano Zapata. On his return, he began work in various union positions, most of which were poorly paid. Some of Chaplin's early artwork was done for the International Socialist Review and other Charles H. Kerr publications.

In mainstream culture

Books

Comics

Documentaries

  • Hobo (1992), a documentary by John T. Davis, following the life of a hobo on his travels through the United States.
  • American Experience, "Riding the Rails" (1999), a PBS documentary by Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys, narrated by Richard Thomas, detailing the hoboes of the Great Depression, with interviews of those who rode the rails during those years.
  • The American Hobo (2003), a documentary narrated by Ernest Borgnine featuring interviews with Merle Haggard and James Michener.
  • The Human Experience, (2008), a documentary by Charles Kinnane. The first experience follows Jeffrey and his brother Clifford to the streets of New York City where the boys live with the homeless for a week in one of the coldest winters on record. The boys look for hope and camaraderie among their homeless companions, learning how to survive on the streets.

Fictional characters

Examples of characters based on hoboes include:

Films

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid, 1921
Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid, 1921

Music

Artists

Musicians known for hobo songs include: Tim Barry, Baby Gramps, Railroad Earth, Harry McClintock, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Utah Phillips, Jimmie Rodgers, Seasick Steve, and Boxcar Willie.

Songs

Examples of hobo songs include:

Stage

  • King of the Hobos (2014), a one-man musical that premiered at Emerging Artists Theatre in New York City, is centered around the death of James Eads How, known during his lifetime as the "Millionaire Hobo".[47]

Television

Discover more about In mainstream culture related topics

Loren Eiseley

Loren Eiseley

Loren Eiseley was an American anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer, who taught and published books from the 1950s through the 1970s. He received many honorary degrees and was a fellow of multiple professional societies. At his death, he was Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mike Brodie

Mike Brodie

Mike Brodie, also known as the "Polaroid Kid" or "Polaroid Kidd", is an American photographer. From 2004 to 2008, Brodie freighthopped across the US, photographing people he encountered, largely train-hoppers, vagabonds, squatters, and hobos. He published the photography books A Period of Juvenile Prosperity (2013) and Tones of Dirt and Bone (2015), but hasn't taken pictures since 2008.

The Areas of My Expertise

The Areas of My Expertise

The Areas of My Expertise is a satirical almanac by John Hodgman. It is written in the form of absurd historical stories, complex charts and graphs, and fake newspaper columns. Among its sections are a list of 700 different hobo names and complete descriptions of "all 51" US states. The full title of the book is:An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order by myself, John Hodgman, a Professional Writer, in The Areas of My Expertise, which Include: Matters Historical, Matters Literary, Matters Cryptozoological, Hobo Matters, Food, Drink & Cheese, Squirrels & Lobsters & Eels, Haircuts, Utopia, What Will Happen in the Future, and Most Other Subjects

John Hodgman

John Hodgman

John Kellogg Hodgman is an American author, actor, and humorist. In addition to his published written works, such as The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All, he is known for his personification of a PC in contrast to Justin Long's personification of a Mac in Apple's "Get a Mac" advertising campaign, and for his work as a contributor on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp is an autobiography published in 1908 by the Welsh poet and writer W. H. Davies (1871–1940). A large part of the book's subject matter describes the way of life of the tramp in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States in the final decade of the 19th century.

W. H. Davies

W. H. Davies

William Henry Davies was a Welsh poet and writer, who spent much of his life as a tramp or hobo in the United Kingdom and the United States, yet became one of the most popular poets of his time. His themes included observations on life's hardships, the ways the human condition is reflected in nature, his tramping adventures and the characters he met. He is usually classed as a Georgian Poet, though much of his work is not typical of the group in style or theme.

Edward Dahlberg

Edward Dahlberg

Edward Dahlberg was an American novelist, essayist, and autobiographer.

Jim Tully

Jim Tully

Jim Tully was an American vagabond, pugilist, and writer. He enjoyed critical and commercial success as a writer in the 1920s and 1930s.

Leon Ray Livingston

Leon Ray Livingston

Leon Ray Livingston (1872–1944) was a famous hobo and author, travelling under the name "A-No.1" and often referred to as "The Rambler." He perfected the hobo symbols system, which let other hobos know where there are generous people, free food, jobs, vicious dogs, and so forth. He was not a poor man; he simply preferred a life of travelling the country by train to sitting at home. In his memoir The Ways of the Hobo, Livingston admitted that he was uneducated, but began his self-education at the age of 35.

Hobo (book)

Hobo (book)

Hobo: A Young Man's Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America, (ISBN 0-609-60738-3) is non-fiction, autobiographical book written by Eddy Joe Cotton.

Nels Anderson

Nels Anderson

Nels Anderson was an early American sociologist who studied hobos, urban culture, and work culture.

Ironweed (novel)

Ironweed (novel)

Ironweed is a 1983 novel by William Kennedy. It received the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and is the third book in Kennedy's Albany Cycle. It is included in the Western Canon of the critic Harold Bloom.

Source: "Hobo", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 26th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobo.

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See also
References
  1. ^ "Hoboes" from the Encyclopedia of Chicago
  2. ^ a b c "On Hobos, Hautboys, and Other Beaus". OUPblog. Oxford University Press. November 12, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
  3. ^ Murray, Thomas E. (1992). "A New Look at the Folk Speech of American Tramps". Western Folklore. Western States Folklore Society. 51 (3/4): 287–302. doi:10.2307/1499777. JSTOR 1499777.
  4. ^ "#TBT - Hobos, Bums, Tramps: How Our Terminology of Homeless Has Changed". National Coalition for the Homeless. 14 June 2018.
  5. ^ "On the road again". Grammarphobia Blog. July 25, 2009. Archived from the original on May 5, 2012.
  6. ^ Hobo Merriam-Webster. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  7. ^ Interview with Todd DePastino, author of Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America from the University of Chicago Press website
  8. ^ Bryson, Bill (1998). Made in America. Transworld Publishers Limited. 161. ISBN 978-0380713813.
  9. ^ Mencken, H.L. (2000). The American Language: An Inquiry Into the Development of English in the United States. Knopf (published 2006). ISBN 978-0394400754 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ The New York Telegraph: "What Tramps Cost Nation", page D2. The Washington Post, June 18, 1911.
  11. ^ "Virginia.edu" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 17, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  12. ^ Mathers, Michael H. (1973). Riding the Rails. Boston: Gambit. p. 30. ISBN 0876450788. OCLC 757486.
  13. ^ "Life and Times of an American Hobo". Allvoices. September 21, 2010. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  14. ^ "Still Riding the Rails: Life as a Modern Hobo". HowStuffWorks. February 11, 2016.
  15. ^ MacGregor, Jeff; Schukar, Alyssa. "The Last of the Great American Hobos". Smithsonian Magazine.
  16. ^ Conover, Ted (1984). Rolling Nowhere. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0670603190.
  17. ^ Bruns, Roger (1980). Knights of the Road: A Hobo History. New York: Methuen Inc. p. 201. ISBN 041600721X.
  18. ^ a b c d Wray, Mike; Wray, Charlie (2018). "Hobo Signs: Code of the Road?". Historic Graffiti Society. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  19. ^ Moon, Gypsy: "Done and Been", p. 198. Indiana University Press, 1996.
  20. ^ a b c Moon, Gypsy: "Done and Been", p. 24. Indiana University Press, 1996.
  21. ^ Hodgman, John. (2006). The areas of my expertise : an almanac of complete world knowledge compiled with instructive annotation and arranged in useful order ... (Riverhead trade pbk. ed.). New York: Riverhead. ISBN 978-1594482229. OCLC 70672414.
  22. ^ "QR Code Stencil Generator and QR Hobo Codes". F.A.T., Free Art and Technology Lab. July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  23. ^ Rothstein, Edward (August 1, 2014). "Security Secrets, Dated but Real". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  24. ^ "National Cryptological Museum – Virtual Tour". Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  25. ^ Webster's third new international dictionary of the English language, unabridged. Gove, Philip Babcock. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster. 1993. ISBN 0877792011. OCLC 27936328.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  26. ^ Anderson, Nels (March 1932). "American Tramp and Underworld Slang. Godfrey Irwin (book review)". American Journal of Sociology. 37 (5): 842. doi:10.1086/215902.
  27. ^ London, Jack (2005) [1907]. The Road. Project Gutenberg.
  28. ^ a b Daniel, Bill. Who Is Bozo Texino? (documentary). Self-published: billdaniel.net, 2005.
  29. ^ Wray, Mike; Wray, Charlie (2018). "Moniker: Mark of the Tramp". Historic Graffiti Society. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  30. ^ "Iowa's Hobo Convention". www.mentalfloss.com. January 21, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  31. ^ "Hobo Code". National Hobo Museum. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  32. ^ Lammle, Rob (January 21, 2014). "Strange States: Iowa's Hobo Convention". Mental Floss. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  33. ^ "Tucson Citizen Morgue". Tucsoncitizen.com. April 6, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  34. ^ "Louis L'amour: A brief biography". louislamour.com. Retrieved December 7, 2008.
  35. ^ Niven, Frederick (1927). Wild Honey. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company.
  36. ^ "Bob Nolan". AllMusic.
  37. ^ "Down and Out in Paris and London". Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  38. ^ Van Ronk, Dave. The Mayor of MacDougal Street. 2005.
  39. ^ "Dale Wasserman, 94; Playwright Created 'Man of La Mancha'" obituary by Dennis McLellan of the Los Angeles Times, printed in The Washington Post December 29, 2008.
  40. ^ Leeflang, Gerard (1984). American Travels of a Dutch Hobo, 1923–1926. ISBN 978-0813808888.
  41. ^ "The Great Depression – The Story of 250,000 Teenagers Who Left Home and Ride the Rails". Erroluys.com. 1933. Archived from the original on May 5, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  42. ^ Thrilling Detective Heroes, John Locke & John Wooley, eds. (Silver Spring, MD: Adventure House, 2007)
  43. ^ "Series List".
  44. ^ "Here Comes Your Man". Frankblack.net. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  45. ^ Hobo Bill's Last Ride by Jimmie Rodgers (1929) on YouTube
  46. ^ Waiting for a Train by Jimmie Rodgers (1928) on YouTube
  47. ^ "King of the Hobos". www.brownpapertickets.com. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  48. ^ "HOOP DREAMS". Chicago Tribune.
Further reading
External links
  • The dictionary definition of hobo at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Hobos at Wikimedia Commons

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