Mudcat Café message #1352462 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76279   Message #1352462
Posted By: GUEST,Art Thieme
09-Dec-04 - 08:03 PM
Thread Name: Riding the freights
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From what I can tell, many of those hobos with the hundred thousand dollar campers REALLY DID ride the rails when they were young! Maybe it was because they were in the depression and needed to find work. Maybe they did it just because they were young and their athletic abilities were still intact and thirty years away from oblivion. The adventure "grabbed them" much like the "folk adventure" grabbed many of us in the old days that make up our youth. They still had the WESTERING instinct that pulled folks into settling this sprawling place. They were Europeans without land and here was free land. My own years traveling the backroads of the USA to do gigs for all the years was fuled partially by remnants of these feelings for wanting to expeience open country that the Mountain Men once traversed. Mine was a desire to see remains of a frontier that no longer existed---if it ever did.

By hanging out in Britt, Iowa at the big hobo convention, the old corporate RV hobos kept contact with their energetic youth---a time they loved---a time when they felt more FREE than they would ever felt again. Jamea A. Michener(spelling?) jumped freights. All his life, after writng his many books, he still thought of himself as a HOBO!! He and Buzz Potter were in touch a lot. Near rhe end of his life, Mr. Michener wrote a heartfelt piece for HOBO TIMES. Carl Sandberg loved his hobo years. Boxcar Bertha, Gypsy Moon (a former Queen)---so many others. The fellow who wrote Man Of La Mancha was a hobo for quite a long time. He says he still is--in his mind. (I can't remember his name.)

And we, here and now feel the pull of that connection just from singing those songs and meeting the few old ones who might still be walking around Britt who can recount their doings to us over a bowl of mulligan stew.----- I only wish I'd been as old as I am now when I met Paul Durst. At 20 years of age, I didn't have a clue about what to ask him! I knew so little history then!!! Now, at age 63, I'd love to be making those tapes in that old storefront that was left over from the Colombian Exposition of 1893 --- on the south side of Chicago -- with Paul Durst, fiddle to his shoulder, still doing it--sitting in his big wing chair.

Art Thieme