I just cannot get “Hobo’s” out of my feeble mind. They were such a vital part of American History back in the Good Old Days when times were bad. And yet, most folks today know very little about the Hobo’s of old. It all started about 150 years ago, especially after Promontory Point, Utah. 

All you young’uns know about that incident, right? No? You know about the Moon Landing, right? Well, the connecting of the railroad lines from East to West, was a very important event in 1869, about as important as the moon landing 100 years later. 

Can you believe the technical advancement from 1869 to 1969? Building a railroad roadbed by hand, with shovel and wheel barrow and dynamite, putting the one thousand pound rails in place by hand. Then John Henry would drive the spikes by sledge hammer. (They made a song about John Henry) 

Only 100 years later, an American astronaut was walking on the moon. Amazing. 

There are Tramps, and there are Bums. After the building of the railroads, there were Hobo’s. You could find Bums everywhere, usually in the big cities. Tramps walking down the roads, trying to hitch a ride or bum a meal. 

Then along came the Hobo’s, riding the rails in boxcars or on flatcars. Riding for free. The railroads discouraged and tried to prevent that practice, until the Dirty Thirties and the Great Depression daze. Then the railroads did nothing to keep the Hobo’s from riding for free. The Bo’s had no money to buy a ticked to ride inside in style. 

Hobo’s were not bums. They worked for their food, or at least always offered to work for it. They were a notch above bums and tramps, who usually begged for their meals. 

I have too much Hobo stories for only one column, so I will be doing Hobo stuff for awhile. Not history of Bo’s, you can get that off the Net. I will be writing of actual happenings that involved me, or stories Bo’s told me. and stories my dad told me. He told of his short stint as a Bo during the 1930’s. 

Also, he worked in the railroad roundhouse in Fort Worth Texas until the Great Depression, and then in the shops in Imlay during the Great War, during the 1940’s. He rubbed elbows with a lot of Bo’s during those years. One incident in Fort Worth is hilarious. Will share later. 

Hobo’s were kinda homeless people, but everyone of them that I talked with told of his family back home. Their families were normal folks, with jobs and homes. Many of the Bo’s spent the winters back home, and hit the rails only when warm weather returned. Can you imagine, being on a fast moving freight train, in cold weather? Brrr. Wait a sec while I get another warm  lap blanket. 

At every railroad terminal there was a Hobo Jungle. It was their home away from home. They lived there between trips and slept there and shared their Hobo Stew, cooked in a huge pot on a campfire. 

They had a camaraderie that would make most common folks envious. 

I was amazed at the honesty of the Hobo’s, especially when they were in the Jungle. There was always one main boss man. He was older and with common sense and fair minded. 

He was always respected by the others. When a Bo was kicked out of a Jungle, he was banned forever. Do something that brought the law into camp, was unforgivable. Thieves were banned forever. Honesty was demanded. 

Wouldn’t it be something, if our present day Politicians used and enforced that code of Ethics? (Don’t hold your breath) 

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