As I grew up we traveled alot and I learned to love the feeling of being in the car. Whether I knew where we were going or not, my excitement was off the charts just to be on the road. I always had books, toy cars and trucks, things to color or draw with and stuff like that to keep me entertained but I also was madly in love with "Big Trucks." I always wanted them to blow their horns as they went by and when they would, I would be bouncing off my seat with sheer joy. When we would stop at truck stops to eat and gas, I would want to walk over and by the trucks and kick the tires. Now I didn't do that for just any ol reason, I would do that because I would see the truckers doing that to check the air pressure. I didn't know why they did it but I knew if they did it than I wanted to do it. We had a cb radio and I would get on their and talk to truckers and whoever and they always loved it because I knew how to use the cb and I went by the name "Baby Jaws" cuz it was around the time the movie "Jaws" came out. That joy of traveling has stayed with me and I love to fly but there is still something about getting in the car and going. It is what Americans do and have done for years and years.
Growing up I heard about and read about hobos and the way they would hop on train cars and ride to wherever and I loved the sound of that. I heard stories about my grandparents being visited by hungry hobos, since they lived next to some railroad tracks out in the country and that my grandmother would give them sandwiches or fried pies. I read some books about hobos and the way that would mark areas and begin to understand they had a "language", if you will, of their own. Have a look at this website for more info on their markings. They would mark an area to let you know if you would be welcome, be fed, be hassled or most anything. Back in the early '90's me and a buddy decided that we were going to go hop a train and see what it was really like. He kept putting it off and putting it off and finally it just fell by the way and I never found out what it would be like. I wish that I had gone out there and tried once, just so I knew what it was like and could tell you a really great story about it.
My grandfather hopped a train for a while back during the great depression. He didn't do it because he wanted to but he did it because the only job he could find was about 40 or more miles away and he had to feed the family. I remember hearing the stories of train cars being full of men doing the same thing. In those days many people did it because they had to but there have always been guys who just wanted the freedom to ride around this big ol country and take it all in. You do occasionally hear the horror stories but hobos just want to do their own thing and not harm anyone. It is all about freedom, adventure and comradarie.
Arlo Guthrie, http://www.arlo.net/ , has a song called Hobos Lullabye and it always brought visions of the grand West and adventure and the sadness of being out there on the roads/rails sometimes.
I once had a dog named Hobo simply because he came walking down the railroad tracks to my grandparents house and he was covered with stickers and all kinds of things. My grandfather cleaned him up and named him Hobo and gave him to me. See it was fate for me and him because he was a lonesome little traveler and I lived for the travel, vagabond, hobo thing. It beats within me and I have followed as best I can throughout my entire life. I have met so many wonderful people over the years and some I will see again and others if I see them, it will be a miracle because I don't know where they all went to.
Hobo's Lullaby by Goebel Reeves
Go to sleep you weary hobo
Let the towns drift slowly by
Can't you hear the steel rail humming
That's a hobo's lullaby
Do not think about tomorrow
Let tomorrow come and go
Tonight you're in a nice warm boxcar
Safe from all the wind and snow
I know the police cause you trouble
They cause trouble everywhere
But when you die and go to heaven
You won't find no policemen there
I know your clothes are torn and ragged
And your hair is turning grey
Lift your head and smile at trouble
You'll find happiness some day
So go to sleep you weary hobo
Let the towns drift slowly by
Don't you feel the steel rail humming
That's a hobo's lullaby©1961,1962 (Renewed) Fall River Music, Inc. (BMI)All Rights Reserved.
To see some of the markings hobos used, check out the link