Have you ever wanted to get away from it all? Take a trip to all those places you’ve always dreamed of but haven’t had the money? Or just get out on the open railroad without a care in the world? Well why not try out a Hobo-cation?
Hobo is a term that refers to a subculture of wandering homeless people, particularly those who make a habit of hopping freight trains. Hoboes differentiate themselves as travelers who are homeless and willing to do work, whereas a Tramp, travels but will not work and a Bum, who does neither.
When on your journey across this great nation on your hobo-cation, make sure and visit The National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa in early to mid August. Hobos from all over come to town and stay in the “Hobo Jungle” telling stories around campfires at night. They have a Hobo Day parade, where the hobo king and queen for that year get to ride on special floats. Following the parade, mulligan stew is served to hundreds of people in the city park, as live entertainment, a carnival and a flea market give everyone something to do.
You don’t want to the other hobos calling you an Angellina(young inexperienced kid), so before heading out on your Hobo-cation, you will want to memorize some of this hobo lingo.
- Accommodation Car = The caboose of a train.
- Bindle Stick = Collection of belongings wrapped in cloth and tied around a stick.
- Bullets = Beans
- Cover with the moon = Sleep out in the open.
- Hot = A fugitive hobo.
- Stemming = Panhandling or mooching along the streets.
- Pullman = A rail car.
- On The Fly = Jumping a moving train.
- Mulligan = A type of community stew, created by several hoboes combining whatever food they have.
- Blowed-in-the-glass = A genuine, trustworthy individual.
Now your Hobo-cation could become difficult if you don’t know the hobo code. Hoboes came up with a system of symbols to help provide directions, information, and warnings to other hoboes. Here are some that you may need to know.
- A traingle with hands signifies that the homeowner has a gun.
- Sharp teeth signify a mean dog.
- A top hat and a triangle signify wealth.
- Two interlocked humans signify handcuffs.
- A cat signifies that a kind lady lives here.
- A wavy line above an X means fresh water and a campsite.
- Two shovels, signifying work was available.
Now that you have the information you will need to successfully join the hobo way of life, grab your bindle stick and a warm coat and enjoy your Hobo-cation!
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If you miss the National Hobo Convention in Britt, then make your way to Chicago for September’s Pullman Hobo Fest. Much like the National’s, this year will feature exhibits, music, food, and a barn dance!