Mudcat Café message #1350344 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76279   Message #1350344
Posted By: GUEST,Art Thieme
07-Dec-04 - 05:41 PM
Thread Name: Riding the freights
Subject: RE: Riding the freights

This gets rather complex these days. The late buzz Potter and others headed up the NHA---National Hobo Association. Buzz was the editor of the HOBO TIMES---a fine periodical that he wound up funding himself with the help of some others. Members were old hobos from the Depression era, people who were romantic hobos in their minds (like me), people who loved the freedom of that life and did it seriously as a way of life---even in these modern times. Some still do it...

There are "recreational hobos" now who are romantics who hobo around the USA from coast to coast and then, when their time or inclination runs out, they use their Visa card for a plane ticket home. Britt, Iowa is the home of the yearly convention of hobos---and that is where the king and queen are crowned each year. My friend Luther the Jet (his hobo name) was the KING for a few years---but that royalty goes back to the early 20th century. (Luther also has a PHD in French Literature and teaches at a university when so iclined.)

The down side of all this is that it has become more dangerous than it once was. There are groups of kids riding the rails now---drugs are central to their sordid subculture. Runaways, mostly---criminals who prey on anyone they can--each other as well. It's Lord Of The Flies all over again---with no constraints. Running amok is the name of the game--because they know nothing else. Law Enforcement groups, thinking Buzz Potter and his benign folkie hobos possibly had to have a connection to the outlaws, made life for Buzz Potter's little NHA group of hobos pretty much unlivable. Becase of this, and because of him spending a fortune to keep things going, he finally had to fold up his magazine. -------- Buzz Potter passed away a couple of years ago, but, as far as I know, the wildness and death dealing and raping is unabated way out there in out of the way places. Buzz paid me five hundred dollars (his idea) to come to Brainerd, Minnesota and sing hobo and train songs in his bar for hobos that rode the rails into town to be there. And there were MANY other singers there that he probably paid just as much as I got. (No wonder his financing was strained.)

Maybe Mudcatter Mark Ross could come in here and tell us how things stand in these latter days. Mark, along with Larry Penn, Kuddy, Utah Phillips, Haywire Brack, Banjo Fred Starner, and several others are in a loosely knit "group" called The Rose Tattoo that sings, recites and generally performs the lore of the hobos. They've been kind enough to make me an honorary member. This is probably the group you were thinking of. As I sit here, I'm looking at a piece of plastic strung on a ribbon that I can wear around my neck to identify me as a part of THE ROSE TATTOO WORLD TOUR---NO TALENT--ALL AREA ACCESS!!! I love it.

Well, this is getting disjointed. To answer your question, YEP, folks still do it---but for different reasons and motives.

Art Thieme