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KaBar

Hobos, Tramps and Homeless Bums

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College Educated Tramps

 

Truthfully, most tramps are poorly educated. Without question, 99% of the people who consider themselves "homeless" either dropped out of high school, or never had a genuine chance at getting an education. But I'm not really talking about "homeless people", that is, people who have sort of made a career out of being down-and-out. I'm really more concerned with tramps. The real hobos, that is, the guys who rode trains back in the '30s, '40s and '50s, often were unable to go to school because of the Depression or World War II or the Korean War.

This weekend I was down looking to catch out, but it started raining and for some reason the trains were all runnning pretty fast. My first three or four good possibilities were all rolling between 21 and 23 mph. That's way too fast to catch a rolling train. I can run about 7 mph, more like 5 or 6 mph with a pack or any gear. If the train is rolling faster than walking speed, I don't even consider it.

Anyway, I retired to my favorite jungle, built a fire, cooked some chow and made coffee, and sat there on my bucket under my tarp shelter watching the wye get rained on. The tarp leaks, so every time the rain picked up, I would be trying to dodge three or four spots where the tarp was leaking.

After a while the rain slacked off, so I struck the tarp, doused the fire and hiked to another, nearby jungle where there are some permenant residents. We bought a couple of six packs of Busch and stood around under an overpass drinking beer, listening to the Cowboys get thumped and rolling cigarettes out of Top and Bugler.

Including myself, there were three guys standing there who had at least some college experience. Two of us had some kind of college degree.

The statement above about college doesn't really apply to trainhoppers. Most of them hop because they want to. But it does apply to down-and-out "homeless types." Oddly enough, many homeless panhandlers never hop trains. They often consider it to be too dangerous. One guy there today described his day thusly: "Some days I work--I go hold up a sign for four or five hours. But If I have enough money, I just take it easy. Sometimes my Mom helps me out--gives me money or takes me out to eat. I don't know. Life just kind of goes on, you know? I used too watch a lot of TV when I lived at home. Now it's just "Whatever." I listen to the radio a lot."

This guy is 29 years old and had been living under that overpass bridge for three years. He had a year of college, but dropped out.

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engrossing..

 

when i was younger i would constantly be reading survival books and that type of thing. this thread is right up my alley.

 

thanks KaBar...

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Books

 

First off- Thanks Kabar, for the insight on what I thought was a forgotten era. I work in the summer at a place sitting right beside a line. This line went right between two sets of houses. The line was simple, it just curved in between. You couldn't see anything looking down one side of the line, but out of the corner of my eye one day i saw a blue tarp. I went to check it out, due to the fact that it is a dead-line, and there hasn't been activity on it for years. Well i went into what i thought was jsut a tarp, and found a large town, well anyway... I would have never thought anything of it until i read this forum. I would just like to ask you one questoin tho....What do you think about ignorance? I am trying to write a book on this topic as we speak. Well keep up the positive thinking.

 

Trase_ Writer2 Against Retaliation

 

PS. Have you ever met any Canadian Traps, Hobo's etc.?

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Ignorance

 

Tee Rase---Well, to be blunt, I'm against ignorance. But unfortunately, there are a lot of people who insist on inventing buzzwords and newspeak to describe things, so it somewhat depends on exactly what you mean by "ignorance."

If what you mean is ignorance in terms of "destitute of knowledge or education", why I am very much against it. I am a strong believer in every person getting an opportunity to study and learn and become a literate, sophisticated, well-educated person. This is a very lofty goal. In my state, Texas, nearly 40% of high-school students drop out before graduating. Essentially, a decision to drop out of school is a decision to be impoverished and excluded from the more rewarding sectors of economic life.

However, if what you mean by "ignorance" is a difference of opinion about public policy or personal preferences as regards the subjects of culture, nationality, language, race or behavior, then I cannot subscribe to being uniformly in opposition. It's like that old conundrum--"Have you stopped beating your wife?" If you say "yes," then that means that you admit to doing so. If you say "no," that indicates you are still engaged in so doing. There is a great injustice in degrading language. Such practices as coining buzzwords like "Social Justice," or "gender equality," errode the ability to communicate and foster opposition and resentment on all sides. One that really amused me when I was young and radical was "Industrial Democracy." I think that we should "call a spade a spade." Who could reasonably be in favor of ignorance? Since being in favor of ignorance is unreasonable and inappropriate, if one loads the word up with a lot of left-wing, liberal, racial preferences and class-war prejudices, then one positions one's opponents to appear unreasonable and irrational.

Each person, individually, ought to be considered and judged upon his own merits. In turn, each person may consider the world and make judgements about it on it's own merits. Some people choose to make good choices and fair judgements. Some do not. Those people who choose to drop out of school, for instance, and to remain ignorant, are going to suffer the consequences of that decision. This is as it should be. To try and blame the teachers, the school system, the Government, the racial group to which that student's teachers belong, or the moon and the stars is all inappropriate and incorrect. Only ONE PERSON has responsibility for the decisions that the student makes, and that is the student himself. To think otherwise is to create a ready excuse for every lack of diligence and lack of dedication in society. I do not accept that premise as valid. We succeed or fail UPON OUR OWN INDIVIDUAL MERITS. Far too many people are looking for somebody to blame for their own personal failures and inadequacies. Members of the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis are an excellent example. So are the "Black Nationalist" groups like the Nation of Islam. Being a "victim" relieves one of the responsibility of the consequences for one's own life choices.

At age 19, I was barely a high-school graduate, virtually penniless, and riding freight trains and living outdoors to avoid the responsibility of paying rent, working every day and being a regular member of society.

At age 51, I am a college-educated professional, with a family, a home and responsibilities. I no longer ride trains out of necessity, but for amusement. It's a choice, and one with potential consequences, of course. It is no different for me than it is for anybody else in society. Work hard, go to school and become educated, be a normal, law-abiding, productive member of society, or PAY THE PRICE for failing to do so. I did not like the price, so I went to college. At age 43.

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So Kabar,

would you say that living outdoors, and going to college at the age 43, does that make you a stronger person? and if so, how?

 

-trase

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Exercising one's Power of Choice makes one stronger.

 

Tee Rase---In my opinion, it's not the experience itself of tramp life, living outdoors and learning to survive in that environment that makes one stronger, but the exercise of one's power of choice. As long as I just let chance be the guiding factor in my life, I was blown this way and that by events. Some events I had no control over, but with some of those events I could have had a great degree of influence upon the outcome. Choosing to "not choose" is a choice itself, and a destructive one. It's like voting "present" in Congress, instead of "yes," or "no."

Once I made a choice to change my life, it turned out that it was an enormous choice. I enlisted in the Marine Corps. I was full of bravado about it at the time I did it ("The Marine Corps ain't going to change me one bit. When I get out, I'll be the same guy I always was.") but once I shipped to Boot Camp, I was scared to death. It wasn't the rigors of Boot Camp that scared me, it was the fact that I knew in my heart that I was going to be different afterwards. And I was.

I was a great Marine. It was like I was born to it. All those months of living outdoors had equipped me to be a sort of natural infantryman. I quickly gained rank and responsibility. I was older and more mature than my peers, and I was not swayed by their adolescent behavior. Many young NCO's request to be transferred out of their "home" unit, because they find fulfilling the job of a sergeant too difficult if they are working with their old squad bay buddies. In many ways I loved Marine Corps life, and I feel like I owe the Marines a great debt. To use a hackneyed phrase, "They made a man out of me."

When I got out of the Corps, I left with the sure knowledge that I could accomplish literally anything I set my mind to if I was willing to work hard enough to get it. I knew how to set priorities under pressure, how to plan a course of action, and how to implement that plan. I sat down and made a plan to improve my economic condition. Within five years I was married, we had a baby, and were both in college. I completed one degree eight years after leaving the Marines. After a short stint working, I went back to school and completed another degree fourteen years after leaving the Marines.

It's not an unusual story. Plenty of others have done the same thing, and with a lot less patting themselves on the back. But I do take pride in the fact that I was able to accomplish what I have, and after such a poor start. I suppose the moral of the story is ""If I can do it, anybody can do it."

I still love trains and tramp life. Sometimes I take a little vacation, and enjoy the peace and quiet of no telephones, no deadlines to meet and no responsibility. But then it's time to return to the real world. I was not totally satisfied with life on the bum, not at all. And I am also not totally satisfied with life as an adult professional. Life is a compromise. One seeks balance, and to live with dignity and respect. At least, I do.

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Yes, I do, occasionally, but I do not consider myself to be a writer of any great ability or talent. I'm really more interested in tagging and streaks, but I very much enjoy and appreciate well-executed and artistic graff pieces. As I have said before, a lot more people go to the Art Museum than go to the art school. Without an audience, there is little point to art. I am opposed to thrashing and tagging crapola willy-nilly all over a neighborhood, and especially opposed to gang tags. When I lived in San Francisco there were three murders within three blocks of my apartment on Delores Street, all of and by gang members, and all because of teenaged boys' overblown egos and distorted sense of what "respect" means. People who have no respect, get no respect.

On the other hand, I find many large fill-ins to definately fall into the category of art, and think that it's too bad there is not some way to bring some of this graphic sense and artistic expression into galleries.

 

BTW, the email address you provided is defective. "This email address does not exist. Your message has not been sent."

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well i find you highly unique...the oldest writer i know is about 25...I find you quite interesting...about the email....i dont know whats up with that,,,

 

 

you may have to just write it down on a peice of scrap and try again...

 

 

C_Fresh10@hotmail.com (underscore after the "c", that might not show up ...

 

im not sure

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Culture

 

(Tee Rase--Check your Hotmail.com email account. It worked--I guess the underscore didn't show.)

 

 

I wanted to write about culture, and how we form the ideas and opinions that we do. Much of culture is passed through the family, and long-standing attitudes can be formed when you are really young, maybe only a year or so old. We don't think of babies as being very aware of their surroundings, but they are very, very aware. Take for instance the cultural differences between a mother who thinks a crying baby is "spoiled" and refuses to pick it up, vs. a mother who believes that babies should stay in constant contact with the mother via a sling or some kind of baby carrier. The baby that is ignored will grow up suspicious and untrusting of the world, used to not getting what he wants, and pretty damned angry about it. The baby that is carried in a sling or carrier will grow up believing that the world is very safe and predictable, and that women in particular are gentle, and loving and nurturing. What kind of person would ignore a crying baby? An alcoholic? A drug addict? A mentally ill person? Someone whose own needs are so great that they have nothing to spare for parenthood. It's not always a matter of being poor, because poor mothers the world over raise children lovingly and provide for them the best that they can. But people who have a sense of entitlement often feel short-changed and cheated by life. And they pass this "I'm getting screwed and it's all your fault" attitude towards the world on to their children.

Some tramps and homeless people are scammers. They think the world owes them a living, and they see nothing wrong with getting whatever they can get any way they can get it. They see themselves as "getting back" at the "rich, snobby" people by panhandling or petty theft or even cargo theft. I understand why they think the way they do, but I disagree and am opposed to it. Many graff artists regard people who use "etch" in the same way. It's destructive, and unwarranted.

Some tramps and homeless people take that same "us against the World" culture and turn it into something positive. My friend Rufe had a rule that he would never turn down another tramp if he asked for something to eat. We even stopped and built a fire and brewed up coffee and made macaroni and cheese right on the spot for tramps that were truly hungry. Several times we built a fire right in the yards and shared out with other bros who had little or nothing to throw into the Frisco. Rufe was a full-on, 24/7 tramp. And he was somewhat of a scammer. But he wasn't malevolent about it, and that's the difference that culture makes.

Have a set of rules in your life. Be careful who you decide to be, or who you pretend to be. There are a lot of people out there who glorify gangsterism and a criminal mindset. Be careful that gangsta culture doesn't make you into somebody you're not.

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point taken,

 

I know from past happenings that people take there own thoughts way too rightiously. I think this plays into the whole ingnorance conver. I had a debate yesterday with two of my closest friends. They where 100% sure that Hitler WAS a good leader. I with all my heart do not believe this, and proved it to them. They eventually sided with me by saying he was a good manipulator (bull-shitter). Of coarse this is harmless, but when writers cannot think past their art i get angry, they think that they are the best at what they do. ( sorry im having a hard time proving points, my car just broke down, :) )... so anyway, junkfood for thought.

 

 

 

trase

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Hitler was a charismatic person, and was very attractive to the German people after they had suffered the deprivations subsequent to their defeat in WWI, the Allied plunder of the German industrial and economic sectors couched in the form of "war reparations" afterwards, and the terrible inflation during the Weimar Republic. It was a set-up, and the German people fell right into it. I have known several German-American immigrants who lived in Germany during that time. When I was a boy, my next-door neighbor was a young German war bride, who married an American G.I. at age 16 just to get out of post-WWII Germany. Her son was a friend of mine. When she talked about seeing Hitler pass by in a parade, with all the young girls dressed up in traditional German folk dress and throwing flowers, her eyes shone and she sounded like some girl I knew talking about seeing the Beatles in concert. The growth of fascism in Germany and in Europe was not a rational thing. You cannot lead a nation to fascism unless it wants to be led.

The murder of the European Jews was just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually the Nazis would have run out of Jews to kill, and gypsies, and Communists, and trade-union leaders, and Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals, and mentally ill/ mentally retarded people. Eventually to keep the National Security State rolling, they would have turned on their "own," and Nazis would have been sent to their own concentration camps. Everything the Nazis did was 100% legal. They owned the legislature, the Courts and the military/ industrial complex. That's what fascism is--government by totalitarian, corporate, socialist methods: "National Socialism." It kind of has a unsettling, threatening sound to it--kind of like "homeland security."

 

Everybody wants to blame somebody else for their problems, and Jews are no exception to this rule. I read a very good book back in the 1960's called "The Aryanization of the Jewish State," which explained racism, xenophobia and the growth of the "National Security State" in Israel. It could happen here, just as easily. People not accustomed to THINKING FOR THEMSELVES are easily convinced that "the mud people," or "the Zionist Occupational Government" or "the white devils," or some other scapegoat is all to blame for their misfortune.

This is why I am not a socialist or communist, not a Nazi, not a "right-winger" or a "left-winger" or any-kind-of-winger. READ THE CONSTITUTION AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS AND THINK FOR YOURSELF. As long as the love of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights lives in the American heart, we are safe from fascism. Boy. Now I need to get off the soap box and go re-load some ammunition.

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What do you know about hitler as a person. I have heard neumerous stories, i supose i should read mine comf (sp? sorry)... oh by the way...i live in the great wide north, vancouver BC...ever been?

 

 

trase

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The title of Hitler's best known book is spelled "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle). I tried to read it when I was about 17. It's pretty boring. A much better book (but incredibly long and detailed) is "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." One well-known episode in Nazi history is "The Night of the Long Knives." There were two National Socialist organizations, the Schulzstaffel (SS) and the SA. The SS wore black uniforms, and the SA wore khaki. As part of the dress uniform, each included a special knife in a scabbard, very fancy--engraved and rather elegant looking "dress" knives, similar to the way military officer's uniforms still include a sword. The SS knife was longer than the SA knife. The leader of the SA was a homosexual named Ernst Rohm. Because Rohm preferred young men, a bizarre Nazi homosexual cult-like organization grew up within the SA. It was widely believed that one could not advance to the upper echelons without participating in homosexual assignations with top leaders. The men of the SA also had a reputation as being handsome and elegant dressers.

Hitler had blended two Nazi-like organizations into one, the German Workers' Party (DAP) better known as the Nazi Party. Rohm was the leader of the other organization, I think.

On the night of the Long Knives, the SS murdered the entire SA leadership, all on the same night. Hundreds, if not thousands, of homosexual Nazis were killed, all on the same night. (Edit: Since I first wrote this, I read somewhere that less than a hundred SA leaders were assassinated. So--I am no longer sure of these facts. My gut level feeling says that an event like this would require the killing of more than one hundred leaders.) Most of the SA rank and file became members of the SS. From that point on, anyone accused of homosexuality within the Nazi Party was imprisoned, and some were murdered. I wonder if the neo-Nazis of today realize how simple it would be for some other member of the DAP to eliminate an adversary within the party? Just accuse him of being part Jewish, or of being gay, and it's off to the torture chambers of the Gestapo. Kind of takes the shine off being a Nazi, I should think.

After WWII, the Allied occupation forces in Germany used former Nazi attorneys and judges and police chiefs to reestablish law and order. Within ten years (1955) former high ranking Nazis were holding high positions in the civil service, legislature and judiciary. The Prime Minister of Austria was a former Nazi. The American anti-gun law passed after the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. (the Gun Control Act of 1968) comes STRAIGHT FROM NAZI GUN LAW, almost word-for-word.

The first step to fascism is disarmament of the civilian population. If you think I'm exaggerating, do a web search for the American pro-gun organization "Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO)" and you can read a comparison of the two documents. Both U.S. and Canadian government establishments have far too tolerant an attitude towards fascistic ideas and behavior, especially Canada. When fascism comes to North America, it will be wrapped in the U.S. and the Maple Leaf flags. Bet on it.

There won't be any mass rallies and jackboot torch parades here. It will be a "progressive" movement "for the children," and "in defense of the environment," to achieve "fairness" and "equality for everyone." Fascism with a Social Democratic face, but fascism just the same.

You'll be able to identify them BY THEIR ACTS not by their words. If they disarm civilians. If they change the law to permit holding people without trial, or secret trials. If they insist on an "Official Secrets Act," where the government can declare any evidence against it to be a National Security secret and inadmissable in court. If they suspend habeus corpus. If they write a law forcing people to testify against themselves, allowing warrantless searches, seizure of property or personal papers without prior warrant and due process of law. If they create "special classes" of prisoners, like "politically unreliable" or "terrorist suspect" who are then treated as prisoners without rights. If they begin to rely more and more on what is called "dynamic entry" searches, where heavily armed para-military police raid people's homes at night, break down doors and destroy the home while "searching" for some sort of contraband.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? It should.

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Guest tunnel bum

i like this post. more about tunnel bums. i bump into a few graff artist every week.

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News Media

 

Tee Rase-- The actual newspapers are a passe' way of getting the news. I read stories in the newspaper two or three days after I hear about them online or even on CNN. The only really good thing about newspapers is that they are a sort of "hard copy" version of the multimedia news.

I do not trust news media people at all. They have thrown the old Who-What-When-Where-How rules to the wind. Virtually all broadcast news reporters and columnists blatantly put their own personal prejudices into news stories. They fabricate news out of whole cloth. A majority of American newspapers are owned by the same four or five conglomerates, all are controlled by ultra-liberals except the Washington Times, and it's run by people working for the Moonies. There is no conservative press at all, except on shortwave radio. Every story seems to be filtered through liberal-colored glasses. Americans don't receive one-tenth of the news of the rest of the World that is reported. Maybe not even one-twentieth.

In short, most of what is published as news is slanted, liberal-biased bullshit. Our schools of journalism are cranking out propagandists. I read the newspaper, I watch CNN and the major news networks, but I don't trust anything they say. The news media sucks a big one. If they had their way, except for the First Amendment, which directly affects them personally, the Bill of Rights would be gutted. Fuck them. Much of what they publish is lies and some of it borders on treason. THINK FOR YOURSELF.

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so true...

 

i believe that what we see and hear, is so candy coated (or the reverse, ie: the sept 11 attack) that it would do me better to take it in as lies. and see things for myself, through research, or other means.

 

you only believe what you truly accept. if you dont accept something, how do you believe. I have never read the bill of rights, i am not american. although you do explain it quite well.

 

I am canadian, but in these days the same things do apply to us as two different countries under one wing.

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Guest rolldafukout

everytime i go paint with my one friend and he drives, he listens to this hobo guy and it's like a live recording, it's hella funny, he go's "HALLALULLA IM'A BUM"

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Yeah, that's an old hobo tune from the early 1900's, making fun of the Bible-thumping Christians who were running soup kitchens down on Skid Road back then, trying to clean up impoverished neighborhoods. It was written to the tune of an old hymn called "Revive Us Again." The chorus goes:

 

Halallujah, I'm a bum!

Halallujah, bum again!

Halallujah, give us a hand out,

and Revive Us A-gain!

 

(James Hill was a wealthy Robber Baron millionaire who founded the Union Pacific Railroad, I think.)

 

Oh, I like Jim Hill,

He's a good friend of mine,

and that's why I'm walk-ing,

on down his Main Line.

(chorus)

 

Oh, I like my boss,

He's a good friend of mine,

and that's why I'm walk-ing

on this picket line!

(chorus)

 

There were a whole lot of made-up verses to this tune. The IWW (a revolutionary labor union founded in 1905) used it as a theme song. To check out their web site try http://iww.org/

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