I was doing research for a bit I’m writing regarding this recent recession and its comparison to the Great Depression, when I ran across the Hobo Code. As an avid student of history, I knew it existed, along with the hobo markings, but I found it compelling enough to share it here. Note that it was “adopted” in 1889 as a “concrete set of laws to govern the Nation-wide Hobo Body.”
I may burn in Hell for all eternity for the sin of blasphemy, but I think the Hobo Code may be an even better code than the Ten Commandments. It is certainly shorter and more to the point than the Bible.
- Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.
- When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
- Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
- Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
- When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
- Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.
- When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
- Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
- If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
- Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
- When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
- Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
- Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
- Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
- Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
- If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts
For those who want to gain a better understanding of who Americans have become and what this whole “American Dream” thing is, in my opinion, there are two bits of history that have forged it; The Jacksonian period and the Great Depression era. This current recessionary period and the convergence of two large generations — the Boomers and the GenYers — also have the potential for adding to that narrative and shaping the Dream for several generations that will come after us. Those who know history will have the most power to forge change.
Read up on your history if you haven’t yet. Your voice may be the one called upon.
NB: I usually either use photos I shot or from the libraries at iStockPhoto for my posts. I had no hobo photos and no other human around here wanted to play the part, so I went to Wikipedia and grabbed a photo in the public domain. The reason I did not use one from iStockPhoto was I was disgusted by what they tagged as hobo photos. They either had homeless men or perverse depictions of rail and hitchhiking travel. Sad. I think someone over there needs to read some more history.