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KaBar2

John "Stretch" Wilson is riding the Westbound

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It is my sad duty to report that my friend and rail-riding buddy, Stretch Wilson, passed away in Arizona on November 9, 2015.

 

I spoke with him on the phone sometime in late October or early November. He sounded good. He hadn't been drinking, but he told me he had a cold. He said that he was thinking of coming to Houston to winter over at Eureka JCT. It wasn't unusual for me to only hear from Stretch once a month or so, or sometimes even less.

 

He had been staying occasionally in a Motel 6 where he had made some friends. He had contracted a severe respiratory illness (MRSA, by one report) and had been sick all fall. Due to the weather turning cold, his friends at the motel offered him a room, but Stretch turned it down and went back down to his jungle. The next day, the Motel 6 manager was worried about him, and went down to Stretch's jungle to check on him, and found him dead in his tent.

 

Stretch was probably the most adept and skillful railroad tramp I ever met. He had his flaws and his weaknesses. He drank too much and would not accept any of the offers to help him get sober. He worked when he could and he flew a sign when he couldn't get work. He was a good campfire cook, and an excellent railroad navigator. Stretch probably rode well over a million miles in his thirty years on the rails. He was a good friend to me, and I'm sure going to miss him. RIP Stretch Wilson

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WOW, No wonder I haven't heard from him. This saddens me greatly Kabar! I hung out with John several times through out the years. Pennsburg hobo convention, where I first met him, and a few times in Allentown, PA, where he often camped out waiting for his next train. That was back when Burl was still alive. I am so bummed.. Definitely a great guy, and super knowledgeable I agree. RIP Stretch!

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WOW, No wonder I haven't heard from him. This saddens me greatly Kabar! I hung out with John several times through out the years. Pennsburg hobo convention, where I first met him, and a few times in Allentown, PA, where he often camped out waiting for his next train. That was back when Burl was still alive. I am so bummed.. Definitely a great guy, and super knowledgeable I agree. RIP Stretch!

 

FR8HOUND, we're going to bury Stretch's ashes up in the National Hobo Cemetery in Britt, Iowa this August at the Convention. If you can make it I'd sure like to see you and Stretch's other friends up there. The woman who was elected Queen the year Stretch was elected King, Connecticut Tootsie, has his ashes and she will be bringing them to Britt for the internment. If you can make it, please come on up, ready to camp out. As you know, there's no motels or hotels anywhere near Britt. Closest ones are in Mason City or Algona and during the week of Hobo Days they are usually booked up solid with tourists. Be sure to bring a bathing suit. We'll go swimming in the quarry.

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