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KaBar2272 karma

Do you meet other tramps on your journey? Because IMHO, you get major hobo points, and I think you need to hike yourself out to the National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa this coming summer.

Second weekend in August, every year, at Britt, Iowa. People start arriving about a week or so early. (Don't try to ride a train in--the bulls are all over Mason City yards and the Britt siding during the Convention. You'd just wind up in jail and miss the Convention.) Free camping, lots of activities, a small-town carnival celebration, a parade, hobo memorial service out at the National Hobo Cemetery, "election" of new King and Queen of Hobos, etc. The current king, Dutchman, has been riding trains for over fifty years. The current queen, Crash, is the daughter of former hobo queen, Half Track, and the step-daughter of "Preacher Steve" Stewart, who rode for over twenty-five years. You'd fit right in, bro.

KaBar235 karma

DUI's are not just "a really dumb thing to do." They are a CRIMINAL thing to do, and completely and totally avoidable. I once lived in a rural county where a wealthy farmer had been arrested for DUI over thirty times, but he had gone to high school with the local judge, and the judge kept giving him small fines and deferred adjudication. Finally the farmer ran over two college kids on bicycles on a country road while he was shit-faced drunk, and the girl's father had some political pull. The farmer was convicted of vehicular manslaughter, but those two kids would still be alive if the DA and the judge had done their goddam duty in the FIRST PLACE.

KaBar224 karma

California has RECALL. Use it.

KaBar212 karma

Failing to not drop that weapon immediately is a hostile, life-threatening act. If I encountered an armed trespasser in my back yard who did not immediately drop his weapon, I'd kill him. Nobody has the right to come onto my property while armed. His very presence on my property while armed is a threat to my life and the lives of my family.

KaBar28 karma

There are always a few scruffy traveling kids at the NHC, but in general they avoid it because of the heavy police presence. Drinking and drugging is prohibited of course, although I'm pretty sure a bit happens on the down low. When I first started attending the NHC there was still a "Sinner's Camp" where alcohol was consumed pretty much openly, but there was always some kind of stupid drunken drama, and the city now enforces a "no alcohol/ no drugs" policy. I estimate that about 10% of the people camped in the jungle are "dirty kids." There are also all manner of other folks camped there. We are losing the 1960's generation. Most of the Boxcar Boys Ranch crew has passed away. Every year we lose a few more.

The jungle has a "pole building" picnic pavillion (built with money raised by Hobo Queen Gypsy Moon, and constructed by a combination of townspeople and tramps) which has bathrooms and showers. In recent years a cook shack has been built, mainly with donated, salvaged materials by volunteer tramp labor. The dirty kids helped work on it, and helped paint it.

The jungle feeds two free meals a day during the Convention. Donations to the Frisco Circle are requested from those people who have the means, and the money is used to defray kitchen expenses, to buy cleaning products, paper towels and toilet paper for the restrooms and so on. Volunteer tramp labor empties garbage cans, cleans the restrooms, picks up trash and so on. The community isn't shy about enforcing a "no littering" rule. (If you don't throw it on the ground, then nobody has to go pick it up.)

The National Hobo Cemetery is maintained every year by a really good guy named Indiana Hobo, sometimes with a little help. Indiana does a great job. He arrives early every year just to clean up and spruce up the graves and paint in the letters on the tombstones. (Many of the hobos buried there are resting under concrete markers poured and set by volunteer tramp labor. All the graves are dug by tramps, but the remains are cremated. (As far as I know, none of the burials were full-body burials.) I have several friends buried there, including Stretch Wilson and Preacher Steve Stewart.


A lot of the stuff that happens at the NHC is a little hokey. There is a opening ceremony (called the "Four Winds" ceremony) which I find to be a little over-the-top. Steamtrain Maury Graham, Feather River John and those old timers wrote the Four Winds thing so the tourists would have something to look at. All those old guys kind of had one foot in the snake-oil business. (Steamtrain used to say, "Hey, no tourists? No hobo convention. You have to have tourist money to make this thing happen." He was a pragmatist.)