Monday, April 27, 2009

775th Post - King of the Road

There are nights when I sit down to update this blog when I am not sure at all what I'll write about. This was one of those nights.

I have been transcribing the latest interview this evening. Country singer Hank Snow was discussed at one point, which made me look him up on google. Which got me to thinking about hobos. Which got me to thinking about an aunt and uncle of mine who used to take them in.

They are both gone now, but I distinctly recall them both telling me of the time they had a knock at their door one evening. A man who was walking the roads, a hobo, asked for an evening's lodging, which they provided. This was the 1970's. It was a different time. People would not do this now. They did then. Remember that this was a rural part of the province, too.

Anyway, Bob and Helen let the man sleep in their living room. He stayed the night and left early the next morning, with his thanks. To test the man, they left some money in plain sight, but it was not touched.

Over the years, I'd go visit them. From time to time, there would be a stranger at the kitchen table, described to me as a friend of one of their children.

I never thought anything of it at the time, but a month or so before Helen died, I asked her about these people. She replied that quite a few hobos had visited over the years. There must have been some hobo signs nearby alerting these guys that there was a kindly couple who would take them in. For all I know, those signs may still be there.

When Patricia and I attended the Tunes for Troubled Times show last month, we were treated to many songs of the Depression Era. One of them was "Big Rock Candy Mountain". It is a song best known today as a children's tune; but back in the day, it was about a hobo's idea of what Heaven must be like. Plenty of money, no hard work, the police can't chase you. That kind of thing. Read about it here.

If you are curious about what I mean when I say "hobo signs", there is an article about hobos here. Part of this article shows various hobo signs.

Fascinating stuff. They still have a hobo convention every Summer in Britt, Iowa!

Jack Bauer's on. Please excuse me.


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