Photo Essay

Meet the Hoboes

Sign

Recently while passing through the edge of Tulsa I stopped at a McDonalds for a cup of coffee. On the sidewalk out side I met two of the most interesting men. They were "true hoboes". Catfish, age forty-five, has been riding the rails twenty-five years; and his companion Bam Bam, age twenty, has hoboed only one year. As we sat and visited for quite awhile, they told me of adventures from New Orleans to Canada. It didn't take me long to realize that they were passionate about their craft of rail riding. They explained how they knew which train to ride and showed me their charts of train schedules. Who would have thought hoboes had schedules. When I asked when they would leave Tulsa, they said they would catch the BNSF tonight to Albuquerque. I commented on their interesting patches on their cloths and they proudly got up and pointed out each one as if they were badges or adornments. When I asked what items they carry, they said sleeping bags, and a plastic tarp for rain. Then, Catfish said "Bam show him our sign". While Catfish was unfolding their home made cardboard sign, they were laughing about it as if it was just a joke. They said they use it occasionally as if it was just part of their occupation. If you ever see these men, don't feel sorry for them, because they are doing exactly what they want to do. They told me this is what they want and expect to do the rest of their lives. You'd never meet two friendlier, happy men.......true hobo aficionados. I felt lucky to have met them and had the opportunity to photograph them.

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1 response

  • John Tanner

    John Tanner said (13 Sep 2013):

    Enjoyed your story and photos of these happy hobos
    God bless these guys.
    They're living the lives they apparently love in the pursuit of happiness.

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