Riding the rails: hopper tales and boxcar art
March 2, 2005 9:20 AM   Subscribe

A dictionary of old hobo slang might be a handy tool to bring along when traveling through North Bank Fred's colorful stories, photos, and chalkings of today's hobo jungles.
posted by madamjujujive (16 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Love it, thanks. A model post and mega-interesting.

The hobo slang is fresh:

exhibition meal - a meal eaten at the doorstep (so neighbors can witness madam's generosity)

hitting grounders - picking up cigarette butts
hitting a New Yorker - finding a long cigarette butt

Hobohemia - the universe of the hobo

madamjujujive: Have you ever read You Can't Win by Jack Black?

Hobo-tastic! It's in a series of some great early 20th century hobo/anarchist stuff from AK Press.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:35 AM on March 2, 2005

Love it, thanks. A model post and mega-interesting.

Well, sure you would think so, Divine_Wino. But, of course, it's true!

madamjujujive, I gotta say, you always seem to understand things with no purpose or reason. But then, that's what you're all about, right?
posted by soyjoy at 9:40 AM on March 2, 2005

[this is cannonball!]
posted by freebird at 9:44 AM on March 2, 2005

Hobo Signs : a cool little set of rollovers defining each marking.
posted by lobstah at 9:52 AM on March 2, 2005

This is a great post!
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2005

Symbols.com also has many hobo signs (various American, English and French/gypsy). They're under h in the index as phrases beginning with "here".
posted by raygirvan at 11:07 AM on March 2, 2005

Hobo signs rated.

What a fun post; we can always count on something good from madamjujujive!
posted by TedW at 11:08 AM on March 2, 2005

You know, Hobo Slang would be a really cool name for a band.

This is fun stuff, madamjujujive!
posted by fenriq at 12:15 PM on March 2, 2005

The nicknames for the various rail lines are particularly fun (and feel at times like Cockney rhyming slang's distant Yankee cousin):

Broken & Maimed - Boston & Maine RR
Canned Meat & Stale Punk - Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul RR
Cough and Snort - Colorado and Southern RR
Damn Rotten Grub - Denver, Rio Grande RR
Original Ham and Egg Route - Oberlin, Hampton and Eastern RR
Take Patience and Walk - Toledo Peoria & Western RR
Tweetsy - East Tennessee & Western North Carolina RR
Sacred Tract Road - Boston & Albany RR
Bitter Biscuit Line - Piedmont divisions of the Southern RR

(And almost all of these would be good band names . . .)
posted by gompa at 12:34 PM on March 2, 2005

Fantastic post. Thanks. The best part: The page of stories by recent freighthoppers.

When I started getting into old time music a year or so ago, I heard some interesting things from a friend who plays. He had met some people at a festival who mentioned a community of old-time players from Washington & Oregon. These were the new hybrid of old-time/punk musician, who tour, session to session, around the US by freighthopping.

I've been dying to run across them ever since. I spent some time trying to find some online info about people like that, but no luck. They spend too much time in the real world, I guess. But these stories are coming a bit closer.
posted by Miko at 1:11 PM on March 2, 2005

[Later] I also noticed this book in the Articles section. I've read it; it's excellent, and details quite well how modern freighthoppers get around (using a handheld rail scanner and/or GPS device...)

Gypsy Moon. 1996. Done & Been: Steel Rail Chronicles of American Hobos, Indiana University Press, 216 pages with 22 photos. Includes recipes and interviews with contemporary riders and erstwhile riders.
posted by Miko at 1:31 PM on March 2, 2005

[this is good]
posted by me3dia at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2005

[this is good]

no, this is not good -- this is one of MeFi's best posts ever.
grazie, mjjj
posted by matteo at 2:05 PM on March 2, 2005

Great post. I will be reading this site and dreaming hobo dreams for days to come. Thanks madamjujujive.
posted by aisforal at 3:12 PM on March 2, 2005

I lived near Dunsmuir (where the Annual West Coast Hobo Gatherings take place), and have a few friends that spent years doing this. I've always loved this site. For those that want to read more, there's Jack London's 'The Road'(free) and Hobo(Amazon link). I also have a book by Duffy Littlejohn called Hopping Freight Trains in America, but it appears to be out of print.
posted by monkeystronghold at 4:30 PM on March 2, 2005

great post
posted by es_de_bah at 8:24 AM on March 3, 2005

« Older The Bushy Tree   |   Yahoo! Literally! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments