Posts Tagged ‘Hobos’

I’m Going to be with You ALL Summer

May 9, 2012

Fresno Bee Republican (Fresno, California) Jul 9, 1932

They Used to Travel Under Another Name

December 10, 2011

Telegram –

To the Mayor of the next town — Will be with you for dinner, overnight and breakfast.



Abilene Morning News (Abilene, Texas) Dec 1, 1932

The Tramp’s Signal Code

September 12, 2011

Various Signs That Mean Much to Those Who Understand Them.

A custom house official in Port Huron, Mich., Mr. Pulteny Wright, had a good natured talk not long ago with a gentleman of elegant leisure. The gentleman of elegant leisure was on who had “done time,” and who is at present a tourist; that is, he belongs to the great army of tramps, and is a past master in the order.

He became affable and communicative because of some favor Mr. Wright had done him, or because he chanced to be impressed by the official’s winning ways, and in the course of his conversation exhibited a little book, in which were rudely drawn the pictures which tramps of the country make on fence and gateposts, and which form a code of signals all of them understand. So impressed by their curious nature was the gentleman to whom they were shown that he copied them, and his pencil sketches have since come into possession of The Mail. There are twenty-one of the signal marks here presented in groups, for convenience sake, and without regard to any order.

It will be observed that the marks are evidently those used by tramps of the worst type, since some of them indicate where burglaries may be committed or where vengeance may be gratified for some rebuff. As works of art the drawings are not remarkable, but as parts of a rude sort of historic language they are certainly rather striking. Some of them have a grim humor.

— Chicago Mail.

The Bucks County Gazette (Bristol, Pennsylvania) Jan 10, 1889

Hobo Cooking

August 28, 2011

Image from the Hobo Soul blog


The Valuable Culinary Lesson Which a Professional Tramp Gave to Runaway Boys.

“The first time I ran away from home I learned a trick or two that was worth while,” said a well-known business man. “I started out on several unauthorized tours of adventure before I reached years of discretion, but the first is most vividly impressed upon my memory. Three of us kids caught a freight train and got some 60 or 70 miles away from home before the first nightfall. Then we didn’t know where to spend the night. Several attempts to quarter ourselves in empty box cars on the side track of a little village only resulted in our being chased away and threatened with arrest, so we went to the outskirts of the place, and built a fire on the bank of a little creek. Here we made ourselves as comfortable as possible, and one or two of us had actually dozed off for short naps when a regular hobo, a good specimen of the real article, happened along and wanted to know if we had anything to eat. Of course we hadn’t.

“‘Well,’ he said, ‘if you fellers’ll ketch a chicken, I’ll show you a trick that’ll be useful to you.’

“It didn’t take us long to catch the chicken and bring it back. The veteran member of the nomadic fraternity wrung its neck, jerked off its head, cleaned it and going down to the creek added it up, feathers, feet and all in a big ball of yellow clay. This he rolled into the fire and scraped the burning embers up around it. The clay soon hardened, and we could see it among the wood coals gradually becoming a bright cherry red. When it did so the cook rolled it out again, let it cool a little and then broke it open with a stone. The feathers had stuck to the baked clay and a clean, inviting chicken was ready to be served. All the moisture that in ordinary baking is lost had been kept in by the brick-like inclosure and the morsel that fell to my lot was the juiciest and sweetest I have ever eaten.”

— Cincinnati Enquirer

Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Apr 6, 1899

The Dying Hobo

June 29, 2011

The Dying Hobo

(By Roland P. Gray)

Beside a Western water tank
Once cold November day,
Inside an empty box care
A dying hobo lay.

His partner stood beside him,
With low and drooping head,
And listened to the last words
The dying hobo said:

“I’m going to a better land,
Where everything is bright.
Where longnecks grow on bushes,
And you sleep out every night.

“Where you do not have to work at all,
Nor even change your socks.
And little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks.

“Tell my sweetheart back in Denver,
That her fair face I no more will view;
Tell her that I’ve jumped the fast freight
And that I am going through.”

The hobo stopped, his head fell back;
He had sung his last refrain,
His partner swiped his hat and shoes
And jumped an eastbound train.

Fresno Bee Republican (Fresno, California) May 30, 1937

Songs and Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks: With other Songs from Maine
by Roland Palmer Gray, Bruce Rogers
Contributors: Roland Palmer Gray,Bruce Rogers
Publisher: Harvard University Press – Cambridge, MA – 1924
Page 102

*  *  *  *  *

Omitted from version in newspaper:
[after verse: “Tell my sweetheart…]

“Tell her not to weep for me,
In her eyes no tears must lurk,
For I’ve gone to a better land,
Where I won’t have to work.

“Hark, I hear a whistle;
I must catch her on the fly.
Farewell, partner, it’s not
So hard to die.”

Bio from the University of Maine 1912 yearbook

Hobos & Corrupt Chicago Politicians in Cahoots?

December 17, 2008
Soup Bone Balmett, Emperor of the Hobos

Soup Bone Balmett, Emperor of the Hobos

Who knew?

Next question: Which came first, the hobo or the corrupt Chicago Politician? I don’t know who the writers were for “Everylady’s Magazine,” but they sure didn’t mince their words! I sure wish they would have named names.

How the Wrecks of Humanity Swell a Great City’s Vice Record
From Everylady’s Magazine
From 20,000 to 60,000 jobless men are thrown into Chicago alone every winter. What does it mean to the public? First an enormous burden on the public charity. Every winter thousands of old men and cripples and weaklings and hopeless drunkards wrecks of the road come to the end in hospital asylum and poor house.

Second the increase of street holdups in winter. So long as the hobo army comes in just so long you may be certain that hundreds of them will turn thugs before the winter is over. Then whole outlaw manner of living tends to kill the instincts for order and most of them have been rolled (robbed) so many times in the first week of sprees after reaching town that it doubtless seems natural enough when driven to it by hunger and cold to turn about and work the same game.

Third they swell the city’s vice. Hundreds of saloons brothels and dives of all kinds are run to get what money they bring. And besides spreading the most loathsome of diseases they create centers all through the tenements for the children of our workingmen to watch –and grow wise.

Finally–the lodging house vote. This deep stronghold of political corruption is well known to most of the reading public. The newspapers have graphically described it, reform organisations have attacked it in many hard fought campaigns. And still year by year it grows. The dollar paid for the vote is only a small part of it, the bond between the hobo and the boss is much more human. The boss is always their friend. When they are hard up he gives them a drink and a free lunch in his corner saloon or a free flop (bunk) in the lodging house of a friend of his. He gets them odd jobs in winter. And in time of trouble with the police he is again on hand. So he gets their votes. And he will so long as the army of hobos comes in.

And so long will the hobo continue to pull down the physical, moral, and public health of the city.

Washington Post, The (Washington, D.C.) 14 Jun 1908

Maybe this was the precursor to the “pay to play” schemes of modern days.


December 17, 2008
Next Time Take The Train

Next Time Try The Train

Raided by the Police Who Captured a Dozen Hoboes  Saturday Evening.
For some time past the citizens residing in the southwestern portion of the city, have been greatly annoyed by tramps, a regular hobo village having been established at the junction of the Racoon and South Fork of the Licking river. The tramps were about twenty in number, and had established themselves in an old box car. On Saturday they had procured two kegs of beer and a lot of food and were having a hilarious time. Complaint was made, and a squad of police was detailed to arrest the hoboes. The police descended on the camp and suceeded in corralling about a dozen of the tramps. They wer taken to the City Prison and are now doing time.

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) 28 Jun 1897

Wonder if they were laughing all the way to the hoosegow.