... the days of a hobo not pleasant to remember but are unforgettable
The prairie lands are vast, beautiful, and awe-inspiring beyond belief on the initial experience of this New Englander. Those open spaces help to feed a great deal of the world's population.
Viewed from the roof or open door of a moving freight car, the rolling land and shimmering heat remind one that the hunting trails of the Native Americans have become the routes of today's traffic and railroads.
There is a mystical beauty to the vast open stretches of space called the High Plains. My feelings of awe and wonder were enhanced just by being among a group of my fellow wanderers as we sat or stood in silent wonder as the miles passed by and we saw for the first and perhaps the last time the seemingly endless grasslands.
Most hobos were "one timers", which is to say they mostly walked or ran away from situations which they could no longer put up with and they usually found themselves worse off than before.
As a hobo in the days of the Depression, there were precious few opportunities to earn money because there were no jobs, one place or the other. No hobos had money with which to buy food or any other item and the only alternative was to ask for food at houses, and for money, one had to ask it on city streets, such as theater districts.
There were some soup kitchens in the larger cities which were operated by churches or the Salvation Army, but if one is on a freight train, it is not always possible to be in a city at the time of serving.
You can believe me when I say that is a very demeaning experience, and I believe that none of us former hobos looks down on another person who finds himself in dire straits.
The days of a hobo are not a pleasure to remember but they are something that one cannot forget.
It is still a puzzlement when I recall how very quiet the hobos were. Each of us seemed to be engrossed in self searching and conversations were actually rare, except when something unusual was sighted and seemed worthy of comment.
November 3, 2000