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Riding the freights

07 Dec 04 - 10:06 AM (#1349881)
Subject: Riding the freights
From: Abby Sale

It was back in 1960 but I rode the freights for a very brief period in my travel from Boston to San Francisco. Brief though that was (I started out December 21st and arrived about Jan 20), I met many other riders and learned a bit of the ways of the system.

Has anyone any hard information on the way it works today? Eg:

1) Do travelers (I'm intentionally avoiding specific descriptive terms here - that's for another thread) still ride freights?

If so:

2) Is RR security about the same as it always was - occasional RR security employees who would probably throw you off, possibly rough you up, possibly ignore you?

3) It was rumored that the California fruit companies would pay the RRs to allow riders. This helped provide migratory crop pickers. In this sense, your fare was paid and you felt in a stronger position, not a stowaway. Is/was there any truth to that?

4) Do the just-outside-the-RR-yard missions still exist...still praying over and Saving the itinerants. These were barely funded one- or two-man missions out to save the heathen travellers. Being Jewish, I never got Saved - a few of the guys always got saved - they felt it was only fair to make the preacher feel better in his very crummy job. After all, the mission was providing a meal & a cot for a night (or as many as three nights.) Clean clothes, too. I felt uncomfortable about this, though. I was also piqued that they (pragmatically) prayed over you before they fed you. Jewish law was clear that you should feed the poor before, or better, without requesting/gaining anything back. Only thus would it be an act of charity. The typical mission system seemed (even to me at 20) merely a trade for value. I got to appreciate Sally Ann because they only had required prayer on Sundays. AND clean sheets. I still chuck something in their Christmas pot as pay back. [BTW for you Brits, the US Sally Ann is a much "kinder" bunch than the Brit one.]
So, are the missions still there? Do they still require you to get prayed over before you can eat?

I asked if anyone had ever met a woman traveller - No, it would be too dangerous for a woman. Or ever met anyone with a guitar - no to that. Or if they ever sang any songs - No, unfortunately, to that as well. I didn't have a tape recorder, anyway.

07 Dec 04 - 10:26 AM (#1349894)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights

There is a group of hobos (they call themselves) who still travel the rails, women included. They do sing and perform whenever some of them are in the same place at the same time. I think Utah Phillips is a member. Can't remember the name but some of them were at Old Songs a couple of years ago. Anyone know what i am talking about?

07 Dec 04 - 11:28 AM (#1349952)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Uncle_DaveO

It's worthwhile, I think, to distinguish among the words "bum", "tramp", and "hobo".

Many years ago I read an interview with "the king of the hobos", whose name, after all these years, I forget. I probably don't have the exact words, but in essence he said:

"A hobo will work, and move on.

"A tramp will bum, and move on.

"A bum will just bum."

Dave Oesterreich

07 Dec 04 - 05:41 PM (#1350344)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,Art Thieme


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

07 Dec 04 - 06:25 PM (#1350396)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Abby Sale

Thanks, Art. I was hoping you'd see the question. I think you've answered it. Do you think the missions are still there?

I had a small contact with Buzz and had a lot of respect for what he was doing. I was at first inclined to scoff at the contingent of hobos that were successfully retired and camping out in $100,000 RV rigs but reflection changed that. The best word for me is the Brittish one, 'Traveler,' which includes all the life styles of non-housebound folk.
Still, there's something odd about paying dues and a subscription to be a hobo... :-)

Uncle_DaveO: I think that good quote was from Haywire Mac, himself. No slouch as hobos went. But several of the fellers I fell in with reversed the meaning of tramp and hobo that you have. They were "tramps," proud of it and utterly contemptuous of the hobos that hung out in hobo jungles, never worked or associated with regular people and lived like animals. Well, so my friends said.

The matter was put to bed for me by learning "The Tramp." The song by Joe Hill, who oughta know, uses all three terms interchangably.

07 Dec 04 - 06:47 PM (#1350410)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: PoppaGator

Hitchhiking always seemed a hell of a lot more practical and less dangerous to me than hopping freights. I spent several years in the early 70s persuing an essentially cashless and nomadic existence; I occasionally gave a few moments' thought to the romantic notion of hobo-style rail travel, but always decided to stick to the roads.

I always carried a guitar as well as a backpack, too, leaving me without a free hand to grab onto a moving railroad car or to cling to an undercarriage for hundreds of miles or whatever.

When hitching, every ride comes with a *person* who provides the lift. While that person might potentially be dangerous, my experiences were always positive or at least neutral; the folks who picked me up were often helpful in other ways, or at the very least, interesting and entertaining.

Thumbing is undoubedly dicier and more dangerous today than 30-40 years ago; riding the rods may not be any worse than it was then. Maybe there's less difference now between the relative scariness of the two alternatives than there used to be.

08 Dec 04 - 05:18 PM (#1351305)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Big Al Whittle

Brilliant thread. I have enjoyed this immensely.

08 Dec 04 - 06:17 PM (#1351371)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Abby Sale

I guess riding the rods (long, long gone) or hopping a moving train and managing to get inside would be pretty hairy.

My companions taught me to simply walk into the freight yard, make respectful inquiries of the workers which was the California-bound train (actually ask two or three workers, one might be wrong or, for a joke, send you the wrong way), pick out a pleasant (ie empty & dry) car and then leisurely climb on board. Never a problem.

I hitched twice across the US and a made great circle of western Europe and had fine and enlightening experiences throughout. Maybe I'm lucky. Or too stupid to get in trouble. I guess you just "pays your money and takes your choice."   Thinking back, the spouse and I also travelled on our honeymoon. Started out from New York City Jan 1st (you see...just too dumb to wait for spring) each on our own motorcycle. Neither would ride behind the other. Rode down the coast to Florida and across to New Awlenes. Had many enlightening experiences on that trip, too. But like yerself, I feel something may have changed over the last 30-40 years. Maybe next trip we'll take an RV.

08 Dec 04 - 07:03 PM (#1351407)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Joe Offer

My oldest son rode freight trains acrss the U.S. a few years ago - he made me swear never to tell his mother about it. He found a lot of it tedious, and it got frightening when he was stuck in a fast boxcar in 115-degree heat in southern Nevada. He said most of the people he encountered on the way were pretty good people.
Next time he went across the country, he drove. Now he's all grown up, a professional punk rocker.
Anyhow, he found the freight train travel an interesting experience. I live on one of the most famous and heavily-trafficked railroad routes in the world, the Donner Pass route across the Sierra Nevada. I often see men riding in the open boxcars as the trains go by.
-Joe Offer-

08 Dec 04 - 07:10 PM (#1351411)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Mark Ross

Hiya Art! These days I'm a homeguard pretty much except when I go out with the Rose Tattoo. Abby, I've traveled with my guitar on the trains and a pack, and sometimes another instrument as well(other than mouth harps). by the way the Eugene Mission here is still right next to the tracks, and yes, there are women riding the rails, some of them without mail companionship. I always preferred it to hitchhiking, 'cause I would always find myself being picked up in the wee hours of the morning by someone who expected me to keep them awake! On the trains I could get on, throw out my bedroll, and roll up and be rocked to sleep. No bills in the mail, no annoying phone calls, and of course, no bathroom(but that's another part of the discussion).

Mark Ross

08 Dec 04 - 09:10 PM (#1351516)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Wonderful - topic Abby!!!

Terrible time of the year to write and recall - perhaps, the thread will carry into the new-year.

Stories - I know a family few:

Bo's markings to indicate "hospitality-receptions."
Three-days, near-dead in the top-hatch of an ice-car with a chum.
Stone-pelted, burned and frozen on the cow-catcher of a locomotive.
UFO's in the night sky.


08 Dec 04 - 09:11 PM (#1351517)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Whoops, forgot:

Placing boards between the rods.


08 Dec 04 - 09:18 PM (#1351520)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: mike_in_st_c

I remember a good friend of mine, Clay Ewing, who I met in the mid-seventies, who said he rode the rails, I believe in the thirties and forties. He spoke of playing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in Quincy, Illinois one night, hopping the rail and playing with Count Basie in Kansas City the next night. He was a trumpet player. (God rest him.) A mighty fine human being.

09 Dec 04 - 12:06 AM (#1351635)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,Art Thieme

If you put "Paul Durst" into a Forum Search here you will see I've posted a ton about this old IWW hobo who I tape recorded in 1961. Born in 1868, he'd been a part of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, was a Wobbly organizer, a migratory crop worker, a raftsman on the Mississippi River, was present at the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado, at the Haymarket riot in Chicago. He also knew Joe Hill and they'd shipped out on a tramp steamer together to Hawaii. Jumping freights with his fiddle on his back was his preferred method of transportation.

At 93 he could still fiddle even though he was quite arthritic.

Utah Phillips used my taped interviews with Paul Durst as a subject for one of his LOAFER'S GLORY radio programs. That show is still available from Utah I'm pretty sure.

Art Thieme

09 Dec 04 - 01:21 AM (#1351673)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Metchosin

A young friend of ours and a couple of his buddies came back to BC from Ontario 3 or 4 years ago courtesy of the freight train.

They were obviously observed boarding, because when the train stopped in the hinterland of northern Ontario for a shift change, the new crew kindly pointed out more comfortable accomodation in a spare caboose and they rode the rest of the way back to BC in relative style.

No drugs, no "criminals", no sordid subculture, but it was Canada, eh, just three, broke, young lads and some crew willing to look the other way in order to carry on the tradition.

09 Dec 04 - 01:37 AM (#1351682)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,Art Thieme

That's great. 90% of the time nothing untoward would happen.I surely didn't mean to infer this is everywhere. But here we have these problems once in a while in some places much more than others. Some good but depressing documentaries have been done on these kids and the lives they lead. As it is with most cases of encountering this type of thing, it's a matter of being stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad luck.


09 Dec 04 - 01:47 AM (#1351687)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Metchosin

You're right Art, because on another occasion he was ruffed up in a train yard in Kamloops BC by security and he wasn't even looking for a ride, just taking a short cut. As was said earlier, you takes your chances.

09 Dec 04 - 01:21 PM (#1352143)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Metchosin

Hi Mark Ross

A few years ago Bruce Brackney of the Rose Tattoo collected a song of our our grandfather's from my brother and I, called The Hobo's Grand Convention. He was very interested in it, because our version had the convention located in Montreal. We were told it has been recorded by the Rose Tattoo on a CD and I would be very interested in locating a copy if available.


09 Dec 04 - 01:43 PM (#1352158)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: PoppaGator

Great thread, indeed. I've continued to think about this since it first appeared.

Back in my hitchhiking days, I would occasionally meet and talk with someone who knew someone else who had a friend of a friend, etc., who knew something about how to ride the rails (not necesarily the "rods"), but I *never* got first-hand information. If I had ever actually encountered an experienced freight-hopper and had the opportunity to accompany him, I might well have done it.

Not today, though, nor in the foreseeable future!

09 Dec 04 - 01:55 PM (#1352169)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Mark Ross

Susan, Brackney recorded THE HOBOE'S GRAND CONVENTION, but it wasn't released. I'll see if I can get a copy to you. You might try calling Haywire Brack.

Mark Ross

09 Dec 04 - 03:17 PM (#1352232)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Metchosin

Thanks Mark, will do.

09 Dec 04 - 08:03 PM (#1352462)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,Art Thieme

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

10 Dec 04 - 05:41 AM (#1352752)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: karen k

I've been going to festivals for 40 years and the best workshop I ever went to, bar none, was back in the early 80's. The festival was at Hampshire College in MA. The workshop was Utah Phillips talking about his experiences riding the rails. He mostly talked about the people he met and their stories. He talked about the whole system the hobo's had for passing information to each other, like how to know if a place was friendly or not, etc. I think maybe he sang 2 songs in the 2 1/2 workshop. It was fantastic. How I wish I'd had a tape recorder for that one. Thanks, Utah! Great thread. Now I've got to go look up Paul Durst. I know I read it once but I think I'll read it again.


10 Dec 04 - 10:15 AM (#1353013)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Franz S.

About 1938 my dad, more or less on impusle, left Seattle for a year of hitching and freighthopping around the US. I've heard a lot of stories from that trip, but he may have held back one or two.

In 1961 Mel Lyman took me down to the Brooklyn Yard (SP) in Portland OR, gave me a tutorial on hopping freights, introduced me to the yard workers, and saw me off in an empty sawdust car for San Francisco. I did't bring my banjo. When I returned two weeks later, Mel just happenined to be driving past when I walked out of the Yard. I did a lot of singing on that trip, mostly songs I learned from Mel.

During those years I did a fair amount of traveling, some by freight but mostly by thumb. No experience I had hitching could match standing in a boxcar door in the middle of a moonlit January night crossing Willamette Pass in Oregon singing "I'm a poor lonesome boy and a long way from home..." as loud as I could.

About ten years ago my dad sent me a copy of "The Freighthopper's Manual" and asked if I was up for "one more ride". I turned him down. Those doors are too high for me now.

03 Jan 05 - 02:32 AM (#1369838)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

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.

03 Jan 05 - 03:51 AM (#1369850)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Dewey

I have a Hobo friend nicknamed Cowboy, who has been seasonally riding the rail, for 30 years.

This summer(2004) he showed up at my place of work, after hitching a ride in an automobile, to make it into our town, before that he was jumped out of a boxcar in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, before that, he was in Chicago, Illnois.

He has the rails down to a science. The trick to doing this is that he KNOWS what is being shipped where and when. He told me that when he took the rails up here that the Burlington Northern Cars at that particular time of year stop in one of two places, Thief River Falls and St. Joseph Minnesota, this is due to the nature of the cargo and the destribution (or so I was told) Whether accurate or not, he seems to get up here every year without any problems and by the use of the rail.

Burlington Northern runs east to west along the Northern Part of American from Chicago to the coast, Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe likewise as the name suggests, mainly north and south rails I believe (but I am no expert) he simple says if you want to go east west in the Northern part of American you take burlington northern, the other companies take the rails that go north and south.

He HAS been caught however for doing this in times past and prosecuted for this. He was spooted with soiled boxcar clothes on by an officer this summer and in a return promised not to do the deed again. (or at least that was the so called story he gave me)

If you do get caught it is a FELONY conviction, and really not worth the effort. But some guys that do these sort of things have records, already and it really don't seem to worry about the consequences.

You can get very soiled up will coal and other compartment dust dust, which does definitely help to indentify you deed for proper prosecution.

From the Hobos, I've taked with, its harder to hitchhike these days than it is to ride the rail. In fact if you are a bum living in Chicago without money, it might be your only free means out of that area. Hithciking is more obviously trackable due to the abundance of officers in the area.

My friend Cowboy is more of a Hobo, he bums around some from place to place and works when he has to and then moves on. He even has a current CDL and can make good money as a prefessional truck driver.

This summer he drove a borrowed truck, earned a few bucks, and is living this winter, rent free in a potato seed wharehouse office building, he lives there in return for regulating the temperature on the potaote seeds. He is also a mechanic and this winter is repairing some of the vehicles in exchange for his room and board. He sleeps on a picnic table or in the office chair at night, He has a Color t.v. and a cat to keep him company, plus various other frineds that stop by to visit.

He is NO DUMMY, but for me what he does seems very dumb, especially having to lower your standards, he washes his clothes with dish soap and an old washtub, baths at the gas station showers, the mission etc. Bums old pizza off me at work. He has been working some this year and has earned SOME money.

I've driven him to the Casino with me several times, he's won a pretty decent amount money, when he stop wining he stopped playing.

I really enjoyed listening to his stories on the way down to the Casino, they we always quite entertaining, and he has a life that is very interesting but one (over-all) that I do not admire. I've also slip him a few bucks here and there from time to time (nothing major thought as I am very poor myself)

When he won the Jackpot at the Casino he gave me half the money he won just from the privelege of me taking him, its been a real Hoot knowing him, he's also taken me out to eat when he's HAD money in times past.

I got to know him through the years and found out he was trustworthy thought like myself at times- very un-motivated or should I say INDEPENDANT, I would never have taken him in my car without knowing a little something about his character.

Every farmer in our area knows his name, and many have help him get automibles etc. in past times to send him on his way, he's actually a pretty nice guy for a bum, but you can get sick of him and sometimes he will take advantage of other people's good nature or overstay his welcome. I think that goes with the territory however, when you are a bum.

He wanted to pay me a modest rent (he currently has income) and in return for sharing my place with him, but as much as I've enjoyed his company, common sense told me it would never work out. Anyone that depends too much on others for their sustanance can where the host down over time.

Honestly, he is a real NEAT guy though I will probably be cristicized for having admitted so here and hanging around such an individual.



03 Jan 05 - 04:00 AM (#1369852)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Dewey

sorry for the typos, bad grammar, and spelling. I am aware of the differences but do not proof read anything. You folks will just have to live with it.

Dewey (typing genius)

03 Jan 05 - 01:07 PM (#1370147)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,Art Thieme

Gargoyle and Dewey, That's grand reading. I wish I knew both of you.

Art Thieme

03 Jan 05 - 07:11 PM (#1370456)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: harpgirl

what a thread...I hope gargoyle's tale is from reading the crying of lot 49 because if not the poor bastard was "had" by his uncle! say it isn't true, poor dear!

03 Jan 05 - 07:51 PM (#1370484)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Thank you harpgirl:

Originally, I did not understand your reference....but Thomas Pynchon turns up as the author the of lot 49 when searched by google.

I like/read Pynchon - but never read his early stuff ... I will search it out ... read and relate.

Uncle Barney had (took, conned, finageled, frauded) many folks (his wife/sons included).... but I sincerely doubt one was me, or my family. (He taught me "self-hypnosis" which was good and bad (very bad - in retrospect) and had sighted aliens, who he believed, were from beyond our earth's atmosphere.

My only regret - is that I had not begun recording interviews - however - a faint hope says there might be some old R2R 2.5's.


HarpGirl you are like a pre-used damp tampon - let the flow go without unwanted infections.

03 Jan 05 - 10:17 PM (#1370574)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights

Do they - did they - catch the freights in the UK - or perhaps, distances were so short that walking was prefered. Do they - did they - hitchhike in the UK?

It this perhaps, an AMERICAN only thread?

03 Jan 05 - 10:52 PM (#1370588)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: GUEST,riverboat annie

click here for hobo signs: hobo signs

04 Jan 05 - 02:26 AM (#1370658)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Dewey

Thanks Art!

Cowboy is a little embarrassing in the Casinos though, he got a little loud last time when he started to losing his money.

He yelled out, "These Damn things (the slots) are tighter than a twelve year old virgin" And, Yep! Yep! Folks, everyone might as well go home, they shut 'em down for the night, there done payin" and proceeded to walk in and out of the slots telling every patron playing at a particular machine, Yep! that one's no good, "That one you have sir is no good, "Forget it Grandma: its Dead!" etc.

We have an agreement, He picks out the machine that people have been filling up all night and parks his butt there. He tells me, I'm going make this one puke, And also says to the slot machine C'mon baby, Daddy needs a new Car. (only problem is that he plays sizzlin' sevens where the jackpot is only $250.00, not exactly the price of a "NEW CAR")

Usually when we go he parks himself at a particular machine, that some fat old grandma has warmed the seat up, and plays full coins win or lose he usually sink like a rock within the first half hour when we arrive.

I have a hunt a peck method for the slots. I pick out 8 that I know have consistantly been loose and work the circuit with the 6 coins and three spins, the pattern I use in: 1st spin 1 coin, 2nd, 2 coins, 3 spin three coins, if I win I do at a particular machine I do not put the money back into that machine but work the circuit. There result is that I lose my money much slower than he does and stay in the game.

Usually when I win I give him (Cowboy) half of what I win. I started with 40 dollars and worked it up to $140.00 gross one time. I returned to his side of the of the Casino and gave him $50.00 of my winnings. I got bored and he was on a losing streak for a long long time, so I went back to trying to milk some small chislings out of my side of the casino, but as is always the case in gambling I stayed too long waiting for him to win. My wining amount of $50.00 I ending upo giving back. I returned to his side hoping he would have some of the winnings I gave him still left to share with me, but he didn't in fact he said, "Sorry, Junior, she's going cold on me" He was down to his last $20.00 of his original stake, I was down $20.00 as well and angrily, work my way to the nickel isle to hopeful reclaim the Orginal $20.00 I had lost on quarters. After loosing about another $3.00 on the nickel machine, I see Cowboy fast apporaching me, Two Casino Cups Brimming to the top will Quarters. He yells out to me, He Junior, We're rich! You cash these in for us. I've got to go take a piss! I've been needin' to goo for about 4 hours.

We were in the Casino for quite a while that time and I overheard a few Casino employees saying, Did you see that Goomer Over there with that big ten galloon hat on, (referring to Cowboy of course) "Looks like he just Came out of a potato field" (Which of course he did!)

On the way back he snores, in the car, it is quite loud, since he has absolutely no teeth a slurps while he sleeps. He woke up one time half way into the ride and said to me, "Boy that chair is going to feel Good Tonight" I asked him, "Why do you sleep in a chair? it isn't that hard to throw a mattress on the floor. He told me that he can't sleep laying down because of poor circulation, he has I swelled leg that needs medical treatment, and it goes to sleep on him if he doesn't elevate it. The leg is made out of pigskin, because burned his skin off years ago in a freak accident. He also tell me when I drive, to "not let up on the peddle, you 'killing my back" I am a bit of a daydreamer and get quite interested and into our conversations and start slowing down when I drive.

Anyway since I have been taking him to the Casino, he refers to me as, "Little Buddy" He used to call me. "Fat Boy" although sometimes he calls me Junior, especially when he needs me to get him something, He calls the store for various grocery items, and let over pizza and we deliver it to him and the potato wharehouse.

Every year he gets a brainy notion of some impractical idea to make money. He was going to start a porno business in Town and Call it, COWBOY PRODUCTIONS, he got kicked out of the store for trying to solicite "actors"

This year he was going to be a Potato Seed Broker, at the Casino one time a patron beside him asked, What to you do for a living? He responded, "Right now I am in the brokerin' business.

Three years back he bought a medal detector as was going to find some specific lost treasure trunk hide during the civil war, he usually goes to Missippi in the winter, but for some odd reason he decided to stay up here and sit in the potato wharehouse and stare at the snowbank, and make casino runs. But he as stop doing this becasue he money is limited and he now wnats me to help him find an apartment.

I know this posting is off topic, but I thought it might be entertaining to read to wah lah!

Dewey (Casino Fun Bus Man)

04 Jan 05 - 08:12 AM (#1370783)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
From: Allan C.

Garg mentioned putting boards on the rods. I imagine my uncle would have thought that a good idea. Back in the '30's, when he headed for California from Texas, he used his belt to strap himself to the rods. He said that he eventually drifted off to sleep (from exhaustion) and awoke feeling the ties whipping against his hair. His body had relaxed or else his belt had sagged enough to put him into harm's way. The experience was not one he ever repeated.

04 Jan 05 - 08:23 AM (#1370791)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights

Who knows? Maybe Gargoyle IS Thomas Pynchon.

18 Feb 05 - 12:01 AM (#1413709)
Subject: RE: Riding the freights

I don't think so. A search of his threads fails to turnup any reference to Cherry Coke which would be a dead give away.