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Hobos, Tramps and Homeless Bums


KaBar
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Kobe Bryant---

 

I'm 57. Another ten years and I can retire from working a regular job. I was a little younger in some of these photographs, like 55 or so.

 

When I was a teenager I always thought that "old people" never had any fun, they never had adventures, never enjoyed anything. I chalk that up to the self-centeredness of youth, I guess. I still have a good time, although I have slowed down some. It's hard to believe that thirty years have gone by since I enlisted in the Marines. I guess that was the first "responsible adult" thing I ever did. I was 26 when I enlisted. Another nine months and I would have been too old to get in at all without a waiver from Headquarters Marine Corps.

 

I have never ridden as many trains recently as I did when I was younger, but last October I was on the rails for a month with my friend Stretch and his dog Burlington. That was the most stress-free month I've spent since I was in my twenties. One of the best parts of that trip was several days we spent under an overpass that crossed over the Norfolk Southern tracks. It was raining and cold and muddy, and we just sat around a spike bucket and kept a fire going with all the scrap wood we could scrounge up. We cooked coffee in a gunboat sitting on top of a railroad tie plate sitting on the open top of the spike bucket. The gunboat we scored out of a restaurant dumpster. The water we got about a block away at the famous Artesian Well in the middle of Jackson. We made pizza soup a few times. It's great. If you get some stale, dry pizza or pizza crusts, you just boil them up with whatever you got, in a gunboat. The pizza dough disintegrates and makes a great stew binder. We would usually cook up pizza soup along with macaroni and some sort of sausage.

 

Trainhopping in winter, or even in the fall, requires one to be pretty damn well-prepared. I don't think I took off my insulated coveralls completely more than three or four times during the entire month of October. Went I was younger I would have never caught out north in October. The Fall and Winter I always spent in a warm climate like Texas, Arizona or California. When I was catching out in the summer, I always went up to the Pacific Northwest where it's nice and cool. (Well, cooler than Texas anyway.)

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I've never actually ridden a train through Detroit. The line I was on went through Battle Creek, Lansing, Flint and Port Huron, where I got off the train and went into Canada. The closest I got to the Motor City was about fifty miles or so. I have been through it hitchhiking though, about 1971 or '72. It was just beginning to fall on real hard times back then. After the Detroit riots of 1967 the whole city started going downhill. I just passed through as quickly as I could, Detroit had a reputation back then for being a real violent city and I didn't know anybody I could crash with or anything like that.

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Here's a few photos of hobos and tramps taken at the Water Valley Hobo Gathering. Some of them are retired tramps who don't really ride anymore, some of them are "hobos at heart" who have never been tramps, some of them are children or family members of well-known hobos and a few are full-time riders still.

 

http://www.watervalley.net/www.watervalley.net/users/caseyjones/hobo/hobo06.htm

 

http://www.watervalley.net/users/caseyjones/hobo.htm

 

 

9590.jpg

 

National Hobo King Iwegan and National Hobo Queen, Miss Charlotte

 

Iwegin is a full-time, 24-7 tramp.

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Mello--What part of Massachusetts are you in? The main route east-west is the CSX line that runs from Boston to Worcester to Springfield to Albany, NY; to Syracuse to Rochester to Buffalo and down the Lake to Cleveland, Ohio. I wouldn't go south from Boston, personally, but that's just me. "Go west," that's my advice.

 

Anybody that finds my posts, opinions or beliefs annoying is certainly free to go elsewhere. Last time I looked, this thread was clearly marked. If ya don't like it, don't come here and then it won't bother you. Some people just love to make themselves unhappy. What a waste of time and effort. (Let's see, where is that "Ignore" button again?)

 

im from metrowest area, about 20min from boston

hit me up on pm's if you can...

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KaBar, much respect for your info and patience with us youngsters and the occasional jackass. I've got a couple thousand miles under my belt and am looking to add to that this summer. I've ridden from Oakland to Roseville twice on gm trains, and from Roseville to Portland twice also on gm. Feather River Canyon is a real life changer. I've also hopped blindly from Portland to Hinkle on a vision quest where I lucked out on the ride back to the city of bridges on an autorack with an open door carrying Dodge Durangos. I surey got what i was searching for... What a sweetride; keys in the ignition, air conditioner on blast!

 

I'm planning on taking the High Line to MPLS from SEA. I've got a CCG and I know a good spot to hop out from Seattle. I'll be riding a DS or piggyback. From what I gather, you don't favor either mode, but I've got good information on how to do both. My question is this: How hot is the High Line right now? I know that Spokane and Havre are my big risks, but I was hoping that you could fill me in on any new developments since 2005.

 

Also: What is your opinion on riding piggy back? I've heard that the axles of the trailers provide a substantial hiding place. Piggy backs are also the fastest cargo, no?

 

Again, much respect for sharing. I read your posts everyday. And yes, you need to write a book. But you still got a few more years of travel, you aint dead yet!

 

Keep it up.

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DONTTRIP--

 

It sounds like you've got a pretty good handle on things already. The problem with the Hi-Line is that if you get arrested the judges are pretty harsh up there. I heard they were giving regular sentences of six months, then that dropped to ninety days. The last I heard it was thirty days. Still, thirty days is a pretty harsh sentence for riding on a freight train. If you are a full-time 24-7 tramp, well it's inconvenient, but hardly a genuine deterrent. But if you are a part-timer with an apartment and a girlfriend and a job, thirty days could really mess up your life.

 

I still think if you follow the rules you could ride the Hi-Line without getting busted. I tend to think most people who get arrested are either careless or skylarking. Or both.

 

LEAVE NO TRACE. DO NO DAMAGE. MAKE NO DISTURBANCE.

 

A good hobo is like a ghost. You never quite get a good look at him.

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So Boxcarro, let me get this straight-- you are a Yankee-hating, train-riding, Southern Jewish hobo? Who has an ongoing feud with Flatcar Frank? Gee, I always thought Frank was a pretty laid back, easygoing kind of guy. Maybe you could explain this feud in greater detail.

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Story i googled upon and it instantly reminded me of reading Kbars storys...

http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?1,1424960,nodelay=1

Exerpt:

I ride freight trains in the belief that I can trust myself, that I deserve to be trusted even to be a reckless fool if circumstances so turn out--and, after all, if I am dead as a result of my own folly, I am no worse off than if I died safely and soberly. The most cogent thing that can be said against train-hopping is that it is the unauthorized borrowing of others' property--that of corporations, not fellow citizens who would be inconvenienced. I am a microbe hitching a ride on an elephant's trunk! Besides, so many of my proudest deeds have been unauthorized by somebody that I now subscribe to an aphorism by Georg Lukács: Breaking a law is approximately as weighty a matter as missing a train. And when the train throbs and hisses on the track, I'm not going to miss it, not unless some other law begs me for violation! All the same, I am proud to say that I have always followed the advice of an old black hobo I once met in Roseville: Never steal anything but a ride.

 

William T. Vollmann

If ya have about a half hour or so its worth the read.

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As I've said before, I'm more an admirer of grafitti than a writer. I decided some time ago that being a worthwhile grafitti writer requires a degree of artistic talent that I do not possess. Rather that go around fucking up perfectly good clean cars, I just admire it. Sometimes I streak cars with "KABAR" or "K-BAR."

Stretch writes "Stretch and Burlington Dog K-9" followed by XX's for the number of years Burl had been alive and riding trains underlined by some railroad tracks.

 

It is true that 12 Oz. is a grafitti website, but this forum is officially for anything to do with trains. I pretty much stay off of the grafitti forums, and restrict myself to the one spot where I feel that discussing my interests is appropriate. So far, it has not been a problem for anybody, I guess.

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If anybody has tried to IM me and found my IM turned "off", I apologize. I'm not exactly computer savvy, so sometimes this sort of shit slides by me. I thought I had turned it on a long time ago, but maybe I didn't. Wierd shit, like "That's funny--I don't remember doing that. . ." (cue creepy Stephen King music.)

 

Nothing much happening, the weather in Houston has been rainy and shitty. Typical. The entire city is like some equatorial mudhole, HOT, STEAMY and BUG-INFESTED.

 

Summertime is a good time to go ride the Hi-Line. Unfortunately, I have to work! Sucks.

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