15 hours and all I saw was this one measly BNSF loco and a cut of MT tankers…

May be gettin’ a little weird, but the hobo’s are alive and well as anyone despite a lack of trains suitable for ridin’. First time I made the convention in Britt, Iowa a couple decades ago we were graced with some surviving depression era hobos who taught us their life lessons before they “caught the westbound”. A few determined hobos still ride the rails, but with “side door Pullmans” (box cars) missing from todays open to the elements unit trains and competition from Amtrak’s cheap Rail Pass, most of us have become “hobos in spirit”.

The classic hobos took pride in their willingness to work, and their reason for riding the rails was often to find work. Today work is plentiful but the cost of living and especially rent has outrun wages, and old & cheap cars and trucks have taken the place of the “side door Pullman”.

Clever “addition”

Truth is, every night millions of homeless Americans are forced to seek shelter in cars, busses, old RVs, and the trucks they drive for a meager living as well as the tent cities within our cities.

xtra points for the cheap window AC!

And a few tasty gearhead delicacies…

Missed out on the 80s Vanagan Synchro? Nice JDM RHD Mitsubushi diesel 4×4!
BMW R1200RT+pop up camper trailer!

Had some of the usual great hobo entertainment too:

Pied Piper and legendary Hobo Queen Minneapolis Jewel entertain

And the customary “Hobo Shuffle” dance…

But all was not sweetness, light, and up cycled mom’s minivans… The “formal” convention activities centered around the shelter building, cookhouse, and campfire circle had shrunk further during the reign of COVID to the point Friday supper didn’t happen. Instead folks were spread in a bunch of smaller circles around their own campsites “doing their own thing”. And while it was nice to see the queer folks and minorities getting their place in the “jungle”, at least one of these little encampments seemed to have a different uniting theme… Suffice to say there was considerable all night foot traffic to and fro that encampment. Booze and drugs has long taken too many hobos, and the hobo’s convention needs a place for us drunks and addicts to find sobriety and serenity.

“You, along the road, need a code… That you can live by” (song lyrics, CSNY)

Hobos and the working class survived the depression with solidarity- A sense of unity that turned powerless individuals into an overwhelming political force. That solidarity pervaded the hobo jungles, uniting all in a fight to survive poverty and abusive authorities through the depression, and in the following World War that defeated fascism. That solidarity survives in the good folks of Britt who see beyond small town isolationism and welcome the hobos to Britt and the hobos that return there every year to carry on the proud traditions of the hobos. But sadly our numbers are dwindling…