Mudcat Café message #1369838 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76279   Message #1369838
Posted By: GUEST,.gargoyle
03-Jan-05 - 02:32 AM
Thread Name: Riding the freights
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
Uncle Barney was a world traveling character. There really isn't too much to write about him But in his youth he was certifiable hobo. In his adulthood he was also a welcome visitor at our home, His stays of one, two, sometimes three or more weeks were always ended with a large meal in a fancy restaurant, where church clothes were worn. It was his way of saying thank you.

Uncle Barney (Barnabus Bumbleberry was my mother's term of endearment) ran away from home at age twelve. He said he didn't like it taking care of all the young ones and he detested the piles of kindling he was force to split. He said his family treated him no better than a nigger – and the hired hand was better off since he got paid and his own room to sleep in off the livery stable. So Uncle Barney left age 12 in 1918. He returned at age 15, "Christianized" and then sent of to a school for "Nephropathy" (illegal in all states but Illinois.) Barney was sort of an herbal quake, lemon-juice was better than penicillin five times a day, tonsils could have the puss squeezed out of them by reaching inside you throat, and a sore coccyx, which could create a multitude of troubles from halitosis and constipation to things rumored worse caught be corned if you permitted him to insert a finger up you ass and would "adjust" the point of the coccyx so it did not curve in so far – he would straighten you out. He popped necks, spines, feet, (could tell have part of you body was ailing based on the sore spots of you feet) However, he learned this all AFTER riding the rails.

He said that as a child is was easy to beg for food. And sometimes they had better luck, with his curling blond hair they stole clothes off a line and he went as a girl. One night coming out of Wolf Pass in the Rockies they had been riding on boards that they had stretched across the rods of the box-car wheels. It was cold and miserable and dangerous. He was convinced my the boy he was traveling with that they would be much better off riding in the space under the cow-catcher by the engine where they would be warm. They slipped up into the space and propped themselves up. They felt they had found a dandy good sport. And then the train began to roll and pickup steam and the night turned to ice and sleet. Their backsides were being blistered by locomotive heat, and their front side were being drenched with freezing water….then after they crossed over the pass and picked up speed going down-hill the wind under the cowcatcher began picking up the cinders and stones in the road-bed and pelting all over,,,,if it missed their bottomside it would rattle up and sling around the underside clipping them in the forehead or ear.

On another ride, on another day. He and a companion decided to ride in the upper compartment of the refrigeration car. They slipped in an all was fine and cool. The ice had long since melted and it was being aired out. Along came an inspector – and they regretted not speaking out at once. The inspector was flipping the latches closed. For the next three days they rode and roasted in the tops of the cars. At one point when they were shuffled onto a siding they felt they would remain for week. They drank the water remaining in puddles from the melted ice as they crawled around the space. Sometime in the third day they heard a noise outside and began yelling and kicking and pounded like penned wild animals. They were released.

They used signs to signify good places to beg. Someone in the jungle always new about the town. Frequently, all they needed was something to bring back and share with the camp. A circle with a x in it was a good place - and a chicken scratch like tit-tat-toe was a bad one. My grandmother gave the tramps food, but she always went out to wash away their mark.

Later he organized trips to the Phillipine jungles for cures through "bloodless surguery" *lots of blood in his films" Married a Phillipinis, had two more kids after age 72. Came back to die in the U.S.


Had a few hobo-ies adventures Personally Rode the frieghts a couple times, hitchhiked many more, slept in flop houses and whorehouses , never needed to beg a meal but had several given to us.