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The Frisco Circle

Discussion in 'Metal Heads' started by KaBar, Mar 7, 2002.

  1. KaBar

    KaBar Senior Member

    Joined: Oct 9, 2001 Messages: 1,397 Likes Received: 28
    I don't know if tramps still use the Frisco or not. Maybe they do, but they don't know what it's called. I never hear much about the Frisco any more.
    A Frisco Circle is a way of sharing out what you have so that everybody benefits. If you want to make mulligan (stew), then everybody is charged with the responsibility of going and getting certain ingredients. Today, a lot of tramps are like "mission bums." If they can't get a charity hand-out, then they go hungry. Back in the day, resourceful tramps took pride in feeding not only themselves, but other bros as well. This is still true to a degree, but it is not nearly as prevalent as it was in the '50s and '60s, not to mention the '30s during the Great Depression.
    When tramps hold a Frisco, it's usually because two or three are organized and they own it. If you want "in", you got to pony up something into the Frisco. I never saw anybody actually draw a circle on the ground, but back in the olden days, they did. In some maritime union halls, they have a table with a circle painted on it that they use when there is a job muster. Most maritime unions hold a muster or a "job call" twice a day--at ten, and again at four. All the members present "throw down", or toss their union card into the circle if they want the job being "called." The circle on the table is called the Frisco.
    Rufe and I used to hold a Frisco throw-down once in a while, if there were people around who looked like they were hungry and wanted to eat, but they hadn't been forthcoming with any money, food, etc. "Holding out" on a Frisco is bad business. If the other tramps find out you are "chiseling" you could get a beat down.
    Anything you had could be thrown down. I've seen canned goods, fresh vegetables, bread, crackers, fruit, rolling tobacco, money and wine or hard liquor "thrown down" on a Frisco. Nobody expects you to pony up your whole bankroll, but if you throw down a dollar on a Frisco, and you've got $500, you might find yourself in some deep shit. I've actually thrown down a clean pair of socks and got a share-out.
    When somebody "declares" a Frisco, you've either got to throw down or leave. If you declare you're busted out, you better BE busted out. If any of the other men discover you've been holding out, you are in deep shit. The call is "Frisco! Frisco Circle! Share out, and share alike!" If you want a share-out, you must throw down something, even a dollar. If you have nothing to share you must admit it. ("Sorry, boys, I'm busted out.") If you're busted out, the other people in the Frisco vote "yes" or "no." A single "no" vote excludes you, by tradition.
  2. hobbesv2

    hobbesv2 Member

    Joined: Oct 21, 2000 Messages: 651 Likes Received: 0
    i love this stuff.
  3. Remi Martin

    Remi Martin New Jack

    Joined: Jun 3, 2001 Messages: 96 Likes Received: 0
    we have a similar tradition on smoking blunts...
    you gotta have fade..weed, cash, cans,markers,film,credit whatever works...
    after thourougly enjoying what you have written KaBar i have come to the conclusion that the culture you came up in is quite similar to the one i came up in...spare the time difference of 30 years and what not...i went to junior high next to a few sp lays and chopped it up with many cats comiing in as the main town was not to far from the main lay and spent hours upon hours in the yards not to mention some time in the jungle which was held to the ethics you described in prev. threads
  4. nocalfr8tr

    nocalfr8tr Member

    Joined: Nov 29, 2001 Messages: 371 Likes Received: 0
    yeah, so do we. whoevers gets bored first calls one person to find out what they're doing. then a few more calls are made to see who else is available. in the end, one person buys the weed (three others put five on it, or ten if we're gettin an 1/8, someone brings the blunt(s), someone brings the liquor, and someone brings the munchies. it seems to be the most efficient way to smoke blunts. if someone cant contribute, thats okay, they just have to bring doubly as much next time.
  5. fr8lover

    fr8lover Guest

    id like to say "wow thats dope" or whatever, but its pretty much beyond that. thats how you guys survived back than and i cant say enough how much i respect that..
  6. kinkosnerd

    kinkosnerd Junior Member

    Joined: Nov 9, 2001 Messages: 128 Likes Received: 1
    thanks kabar.. Its always interesting to hear where some sayings come from..

    (by the way.... my money is in the mail for the hat) sorry it took a while.
  7. dumpybottom

    dumpybottom Member

    Joined: Feb 27, 2001 Messages: 951 Likes Received: 0
    i believe ive heard of the circle before, but very interesting none the less...
  8. suburbian bum

    suburbian bum 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Jan 30, 2001 Messages: 14,673 Likes Received: 3
    I like this, tell us more man.
  9. KaBar

    KaBar Senior Member

    Joined: Oct 9, 2001 Messages: 1,397 Likes Received: 28
    Union Hall Frisco

    I'm not too sure whether or not I explained the Maritime Union hall ettiquette very well. Maritime Unions operate on "seniority," which means the oldest, longest tenure members get preference. This works against new guys, because unless nobody wants that job, new guys don't really have much of a chance. It discriminates against johnnie-come-latelies, who weren't there when the hard work of organizing the union and getting a contract was done. The old guys, who usually were there when the union was first organized (sometimes these guys are called "charter members" or "plank holders"--they were the orginal builders of the union local) are given preference over everybody else, according to UNION CARD NUMBER. If you've got card # 150, you beat out everybody else for a job except card # 149 and below.
    When the maritime unions hold a job call, everybody who has been hanging out all morning in the hall drinking coffee and playing dominoes or cards, gathers around the frisco table, and the B.A. (the Business Agent) calls out the job according to the union's rule book--the ship's name, the job, the reporting time and so forth. Everybody already knows the pay scale--it's a union job. The new guys have been hanging around a while and know who the senior cardholders are, usually by name and on sight. So if one of the old guys who has an "A" card is throwing down, the "B" and "C" card holders don't bother. But if no "A" card holders are present, everybody throws down in the hopes of catching out.
    If you are a new guy and you are desparate to work, you make friends with an older guy who has a low number "A" card. He throws down on the frisco, and gets the job, maybe something like being a Scullery hand on an oil tanker. These guys chop vegetables, wash pots and pans, swab the galley, etc. They are like cook's helpers. The job pays about $13 or $14 an hour. You work two shifts--a four-hour watch from 0400 to 0800 (breakfast) then two hours lay-out, then another four hours from 1000 til 1400 (lunch.) If you work breakfast and lunch, somebody else works dinner and mid-rats (midnight rations--usually cold cuts and sandwiches for the dog watch.) You're making about $112 a day, or about $17,000 a year for SEVEN MONTHS WORK. The other five months, you draw unemployment or work another job, or--go ride freight trains. The union contract will only allow you to work seven and a half months a year on ships.
    There are two job calls a day, but the morning job call has 90% of the work. The second call is at 4 p.m. Almost nobody shows up.
    Your friend, who threw down on the Scullery job, calls the B.A. at 3:30 p.m. and says, "Gee, I'm sorry, but I'm sick and I can't ship out." The B.A. (who has been clued in advance by your friend) goes out in the Hall and says, "I've got a no-show--who wants to throw down?" Of course, there is nobody there but you. You throw down your "C" card, and the B.A. ships you. When he "comes quayside to see you off" and shakes hands, you slip him ten $100 bills rolled up with a rubber band. If you spend one single eight-hour shift on a ship, you go from "C" card up to "B" card. It will take you 71 hours of pay to earn back the B.A.'s cut. You are living rent free, free food, free everything on board a ship. At the end of 7-1/2 months, you'll have earned $17,000 minus taxes and the bribe to the B.A.
    Once you have a "B" card, you can work much more regularly. Eventually, you'll work your way up to an "A" card. It probably will take you several years, unless a lot of older members die off or retire.
    If the captain of the ship or the mate likes you, they can "work a deal" with the Union to keep you from getting bumped off the ship.
    Bribing people seems unfair and wrong, and it is. But in the real world, you've got to KNOW SOMEBODY to become a merchant sailor.
    It ain't romantic, it's kind of hard-assed. But it's the truth. And it's a pretty long way from the original Frisco Circle.
  10. Agent Uprise

    Agent Uprise New Jack

    Joined: Feb 17, 2002 Messages: 70 Likes Received: 0
    Damn KABAR!!!

    Is there anything you don't know? Im gonna kidnapp you and sell you to the Smithsonian.
    Peace and thanks AGAIN for the knowledge
  11. KaBar

    KaBar Senior Member

    Joined: Oct 9, 2001 Messages: 1,397 Likes Received: 28
    LOL--Agent Uprise, haven't you noticed? I only talk about stuff I already know about. If you were to ask me about something I hadn't already done, I'd sound like a cherry dumbass.