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2004 National Hobo Convention, Britt, Iowa

Discussion in 'Metal Heads' started by KaBar2, Aug 1, 2004.

  1. KaBar2

    KaBar2 Senior Member

    Joined: Jun 27, 2003 Messages: 2,130 Likes Received: 66
    Well, guys, once again, it's time for the National Hobo Convention. This year, it will be held on August 12-13-14-15. Some activities start as early as August 10. The Convention is held at the same time as Britt's annual "Hobo Days" celebration, which is sort of like a small-town Independence Day festival. There is a carnival and Midway set up on Britt's Main Street, with all the usual Ferris Wheel, Tilt-A-Whirl, Little Boats type of amusement rides, plus a bunch of try-your-luck, "Step Tight Up, Ladies and Gentlemen!" carnie midway booths.

    Britt also has live-music "youth" dances on Friday and Saturday night (last year sounded like two bands, or maybe two sets--one "heavy metal" and one Seattle-style alternative rock--I didn't actually attend, but we could hear the music clear over across town in the jungle.)

    There is also dirt-track auto racing at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. Very LOUD dirt-track auto racing.

    During the days of the festival, they also have a huge farmer's market that sells farm produce, home-made jams & jellies, baked goods, etc. out of the back of trucks and on tables along the main drag downtown. People sell all kinds of arts & crafts. Last year Duffy Littlejohn had a booth selling his books. Iowa Blackie always sells his calenders and books of his poetry on the street.

    There is the Hobo Memorial Service, when the ashes of hobos who have died that year are laid to rest, and afterwards, the Hobo Council meets on the hill above the National Hobo Memorial cemetary, on the north edge oif Evergreen Cemetary--the city cemetary in Britt. It's a few blocks east of the jungle.

    At night, musically talented (and some not-so-talented) tramps sing and play various kinds of music at the campfire in the jungle. The Jungle itself is a sort of ersatz city park next to the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern (ICE) mainline. There is an old boxcar on display, a funky, pole-building shelter with picnic tables, showers & bathrooms and a storage garage that serves as the Crumb Boss' office during the Convention. That's where they make up the Hobo List every year, on a laptop computer that belongs to Collinwood Kid. People park their pick-up trucks, vans and campers all around the edges of the jungle. Once you park, better plan on staying there, because people pitch tents all over the place and sometimes people's vehicles get boxed in.

    The City feeds the Jungle two meals a day (breakfast and dinner) provided by donations and the Hobo Foundation, during the Convention, which are cooked by volunteer "dog-robbers" from the jungle and supervised by the crumb boss. Clean-up happens afterwards, when the volunteer "pearl divers" wash up all the big pots and pans and clean the home-built propane-fired field stove. It's sort of an honor to be invited to cook and the pearl divers are sort of paying their dues, working their way up to dog-robber status.

    You can tell you've really been accepted when the people organizing the Memorial Service ask you to contribute a few cents towards the $3.65 that is poured onto Lord Open Road's grave every year, and they pass the Tulamore Dew bottle to you to take sip, during the service.

    A lot of the National Hobo Convention is hocus-pocus (for instance, the Hobo Shuffle, which is now a beloved annual feature of the music thing, was invented sort of as a joke one year by Steam Train Maury Graham as something to amuse the tourists, LOL.) Same thing goes for Hobo Walking Sticks. These walking sticks are carved dutifully every year and signed by anybody in the jungle sober enough to wield a Sharpie marker. They get auctioned off for remarkably large sums to raise money for the new building the Hobo Museum is trying to build.

    Britt, Iowa is probably the only town in America, besides Amory, MS and Pennsburg, PA to ever welcome hobos and tramps. The other gatherings around the country are never referred to as "conventions." All the tramps agree, there may be many gatherings (Pennsburg, Katy Days, Amory Railroad Days, Trampfest, etc.) but only one CONVENTION, and "Britt is It." Some people dislike Britt, some people refuse to attend, but even the detractors concede that Britt's Convention has the honor of being the first, and longest standing Hobo gathering in the country.
  2. jungleboogie

    jungleboogie Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 15, 2003 Messages: 171 Likes Received: 0
    :dazed: :lol: :dazed: are you serious hahaha
  3. beer me

    beer me New Jack

    Joined: Jun 23, 2004 Messages: 99 Likes Received: 0
    My dick is bigger then yours
  4. KaBar2

    KaBar2 Senior Member

    Joined: Jun 27, 2003 Messages: 2,130 Likes Received: 66
    Glad to see some things never change on 12 oz. If either one of you two ever decide you'd like to catch out, drop me a line. If you ever tried it, think you'd be "Tramp4Life." Once a hobo, always a hobo. Go read "Hobos, Tramps and Homeless Bums" on the Trainspotting thread, if you'd care to learn something new.
  5. alabama

    alabama Member

    Joined: Nov 18, 2001 Messages: 618 Likes Received: 0
    damn....its that time of the year already huh....this sounds like soooooo much fun, but it would take me awhile to get up there, and i really dont have the time....maybe i can pull it together enough to make it to amory next year....its in the spring right???
  6. rollinaround

    rollinaround Member

    Joined: Aug 14, 2002 Messages: 501 Likes Received: 0
    hey Kabar, you should get some FADED-GLORY MAGAZINES...I think you would enjoy them.
    do a google search for Mick Trackside.....
  7. ArtistikFunk

    ArtistikFunk Senior Member

    Joined: May 7, 2003 Messages: 1,498 Likes Received: 38
    Been to Britt many times- Lots of Good fun!
    The Girls out in Iowa are Down to Earth, Cool like that & Hot!!
    If your are from a big City & are very interesting- you just might get some play!!

    It's a slow motion town that is way behind when it comes to the modern world.
  8. KaBar2

    KaBar2 Senior Member

    Joined: Jun 27, 2003 Messages: 2,130 Likes Received: 66
    Got back from Britt a couple of days ago

    And it was a shitload of fun, as usual. A new King & Queen of Hobos was elected. The new King is the former spokesperson. The spokesperson position used to be called the Grand Head Pipe a hundred years ago--I think that a head pipe is an important part of a steam locomotive, but I'm not absolutely sure. Anyway, Todd "Adman" Waters was elected King for 2004-2005, replacing Hobo Spike (2003-2004.) The new Queen is Sunrise, who is a librarian and a teacher who conducts classes about hobos and trainhopping.

    The King and Queen candidates are screened by members of the Hobo Council (to eliminate poseurs and unsavory characters) and then the crowd at Britt's annual Hobo Days celebration votes for their favorites by acclimation (applause.) Essentially, a mixed crowd of tourists and hobos chooses the King and Queen. Articulate King candidates usually impress the crowd, and in the past, the Queen election was sort of a popularity contest---often the youngest, most attractive Queen candidate got the vote. This is changing though. Last years' Queen, Mama Jo, was a middle-aged woman who works tirelessly with the homeless in Kansas City.

    Adman is a very good choice; as last year's spokesperson, he knows the ropes already. He's intelligent, well-spoken and gets in a lot of miles every year. In his aceptance speech, he told the crowd, "Thank you very much. I promise to do a good job. As soon as this Convention is over, I intend to catch out on THE FIRST THING SMOKIN'!" This year, I imagine the King of Hobos is going to do quite a bit of riding.

    The Spokesperson is elected by a direct vote of the Hobo Council after the memorial service every year--no tourists. Adman did a very good job as spokesperson, but could not run for King and Spokesperson both. A former king, and organizer for T.U. 63, Preacher Steve, was elected as spokesperson.

    I stayed a couple of days late. I was asked to take on the job of "crumb boss" for 2005, which is basically the supervisor of the field kitchen, responsible for two meals a day during the Convention, overseeing clean-up, dishwashing, sanitary kitchen conditions and so forth. As 2005 crumb boss, it's part of my job to "roll up the jungle" at the end of the 2004 convention----put it all away, lock up the Boxcar, and so on. This year I had lots of help. Taz, from the Boxcar Boys Ranch; Jenny and Dritz (who rode a train in from Portland to get to Britt), and several other tramps stayed back to help. Almost everybody else took off Saturday night or Sunday. The ones that stayed through Sunday we fed a big mulligan stew. Monday morning in the rain, we rolled up, locked the boxcar, I declared the jungle closed and we pulled stakes. It was a good Convention. Can't wait until next year!
  9. DEFCON2.0

    DEFCON2.0 Member

    Joined: Feb 27, 2002 Messages: 297 Likes Received: 1

    this shit jus sounds crazy and made the hell up but if its not thats fuckin funny as hell and i'll see ya there next year.....:lol: :lol: :lol:

    I wonder wht cleveland,OH has'nt had a hobo fest yet all the d/t streets are infested with then...:D :spent: :loopy: :huh2: :krunk: :shook: :zombie:
  10. lepthebeard

    lepthebeard Elite Member

    Joined: Mar 26, 2003 Messages: 4,126 Likes Received: 26
    ...grab a clue there buddy...
    ...just because you are down and out doesn't mean you are a hobo...
    ...and being a hobo doesn't mean you are down and out...
    ...think then press enter..."infested"...i'd rather hang with them than a bunch of fake, plastic.......
  11. KaBar2

    KaBar2 Senior Member

    Joined: Jun 27, 2003 Messages: 2,130 Likes Received: 66

    Sorry about the slow reply, I was in the hospital four days with some sort of wack heart condition. They hooked me up to a five-lead Holter monitor for four days, and I had to get an angiogram/ cardiac cath. Man, that was some scarey ass shit--they punch into an artery in your groin (where your leg attaches to your body) and insert a catheter up the aorta to your heart, and into the chambers of the heart, where they inject dye so they can see if your cardiac arteries are plugged up with fat and plaque.

    Mine are clean as a whistle--Thank God. No blockages, but I'm still experiencing skipped beats, double heartbeats and "palpitations" heart beats that are so strong I can feel my heart beating in my chest!

    LISTEN TO ME---IF YOU SMOKE, FUCKING QUIT, RIGHT NOW, TODAY. Change your diet, NOW, today. Stop chowing down on all that grease and fat and sugar and shit while you still are young enough to change it. All those cheeseburgers and pizzas and shit are going to FUCK UP YOUR HEART AND ARTERIES if you don't start eating more sensibly.

    I always did whatever I wanted, pretty much. EATING SHIT FOOD WILL FUCK YOU UP WHEN YOU ARE OLDER. And start exercising every day, too. When you're young, it doesn't seem to matter, but as you get older IT DOES MATTER. The stronger you are, the better wind you have, the better resilence, the more you will be able to enjoy life when you are 40, 50 and up.

    Okay, enough of that.

    DEFCON---- the city of Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the foremost hobo/tramp spots in the U.S. Three of my best hobo buddies live in East Cleveland, in the middle of a big ass ghetto. They ride to Buffalo and Boston all the time. Stretch has ridden down and wintered in our jungle in Houston the last couple of years. Collinwood Kid dumpster-dives a ton of food every week in Cleveland and feeds the homeless in Cleveland every Sunday with the "Food Not Bombs" group. Texas Mad Man has been riding out of Cleveland the last six years or so.

    Shee-it, buddy, you in "Hobo Heaven." Open yo eyes, homes.

    Everything I wrote above about the Convention is absolutely true. Come check it out, but be prepared to pull your weight. Bring camping gear, at least a sleeping bag and a pack. If you have no tent, you could sleep in the boxcar. Be prepared to kick in to the Frisco for food and to buy your own beer. Do NOT bring any drugs or illegal shit. The cops are everywhere, but they leave the jungle alone as long as nobody does anything stupid. The most trouble I had out of them this year was P.W. and me were scrounging railroad spike cans to wash clothes in, and this black bicycle cop acted like we were stealing some valuable railroad property. (It's a long story--P.W. hooked up with this chick, they drank too much, went to her tent and went to bed. Afterwards, she passed out and pissed the sleeping bag. She was real embarrassed, but Dub was like "Hey, baby, don't get all upset, this shit happens to me all the time." He and I had to wash all his gear, winter Carhartt's, sleeping bag, etc. in spike cans, and then dry it all on the Jungle Fence. Dub was like "Fuckin'-AYE, Kabar, this is pretty fuckin' hobo, man!" We're like twisting the Carhartt's and the Army ECW bag around a stop sign post to wring them out, and these tourists start taking pictures of us like we're a herd of elk at Yellowstone or something! LOL. It was great. Dub said "Hey, it costs five bucks to take my picture!" They didn't pay though.)

    New guys work pearl diving or in the field kitchen. It sounds like work, but it's really just fun. You get to meet everybody, chat up the girls, hang out with the old guys, the Kings and Queens. I had a blast. I swapped Road Hog one of my cookie-tin banjos for a walking stick he's had for a number of years. It was a great trade--everybody felt like they got the best end of the deal. He put it to work immediately, busking the tourists, singing old IWW songs, and I got a piece of history.
  12. Gunm

    Gunm Banned

    Joined: Aug 31, 2003 Messages: 12,427 Likes Received: 2
    KaBar, if i ever get rich, i am going to hire you on as a full-time consultant.

    If I ever become a successful drug lord, I'd like you to be my "lieutenant".

    ha ha, naw, but seriously, you live a fascinating life and hopefully I'll have the chance to meet and parlay with you one of these days.

    have you ever been to Burning Man?
  13. KaBar2

    KaBar2 Senior Member

    Joined: Jun 27, 2003 Messages: 2,130 Likes Received: 66

    I've never been to Burning Man, but I'd sure love to go sometime. There's another big gathering out in the desert I'd like to attend too, but it's like some kind of an underground deal (probably more so now, after 9/11) where the attendees blow shit up in spectacular explosions made with both commercial explosives, fireworks and home-brewed explosives. I've never been to Knob Creek, Kentucky for the Machinegun Shoot, either, but that's another one I'd love to see. Imagine a hundred machineguns on line, all different makes, models, calibers, etc. blasting the shit out of old cars and 55-gallon barrels and shit like that. Yee-Hah! One of my friends from the Texas militia went to the Soldier of Fortune Convention one year (in Las Vegas) and spent $1,000 shooting different machineguns. I'm like "Shit, bro, for $1,000 you could have bought your own."

    The Hobo Convention is nothing like this, of course. Lots of clandestine beer drinking out of insulated beverage cups with a lid (the cops frown on open containers in a public park), folk music and a little rowdy behavior from the hard core party-ers. Most of the real hard asses go to "Trampfest" now, because they want to get shit-faced and completely hammered without any police hassle. Some people call it "Drunkfest." That's about right---less about hoboing and more about getting intoxicated. This year, Trampfest was held in La Crosse, WI, on the Hi-Line between Chicago and Minneapolis. I haven't heard yet if it got raided. P-Dub was headed up there after Britt.
  14. wacytabacy

    wacytabacy New Jack

    Joined: Aug 29, 2004 Messages: 74 Likes Received: 0