This Land, This Heritage, This People; Jack London and Hoboes That Pass in the Night
Why does a hobo. Well there's a book called hobos of America published in 1939. It says in there is neither a tramp or a bum hobo is the gentleman of the road. The name is derived from the Latin means man and boldness means good. Good man. This land this heritage this people a series of radio programs tracing in word and music the footprints of America the turns we took the tales we spread narratives letters diaries and songs have been adapted from primary source materials by Professor Robert Gard director of the Wisconsin idea theatre programmes were produced a W A-J at the University of Wisconsin for national educational radio under a grant from the National
Library Foundation. Today's program Jack London and Hall Pass in the night. Oh it's not a hobo by choice. Circumstances alter cases and depressions alter circumstances. It's because of reverses he must take to the road he keeps to the right of the road and does his best to keep out of trouble. In search of an opportunity he travels from place to place hoping to fit in some way. He's the greatest optimist in the world and believes the world owes him an opportunity. I asked Jack London he knows how about a round and wrote a book called hoboes that pass in the night. In the course of my tramping I encountered hundreds of hobos whom I hailed
or who hailed me and with whom I waded the water tanks carved Monika's boiled up cooked Mulligans battered the drag beat trains and passed and were never seen again. Perhaps I should explain what I mean. The battered the drag means caught a slow freight and boiled up. Well that's to dress up clean a Monica Monica was a mark used by a bull on the road. Monica's were assumed names a favorite device of hobos used to base their monikers on the localities from which they hail New York Tommy Pacific saloon Pittsburgh Jack Syracuse shine or shine is always a negro soul called to possibly from the highlights on his countenance. Texas trying to lead or shine convey both race and Nativity. And I recollect Frisco sheeny
New York Irish Michigan French Cockney kid. Others carry the names of their peculiarities Detroit shortie Ohio by themselves kids buck swift Iowa kid monkey kid corduroy and. Oh I just I just.
Just the slightest excuse. Because. A tramp is one who hits the road thinking that the world owes him a living. Frankly he tells you he would not work under any circumstances. The trample not mix with the hobo. In many instances if there are more traps in the bunch than hobos the tramp pens the hobo a match which in the slang of the road means light
out of the trams be stronger in numbers the hobos carried out traps have no use for society in general. What care they for the rest of the world. It's a world of rest they crave. It's the tramp who steals the farmer's chickens. The hobo gets the blame. It's the hobo who prevents the railroad wreck. You had newspapers unthinkingly we'll give credit to the tramps but creditor no credit. Facts are facts. Hobos are hobos tramps or tramps. Tribes are the modern plague. That's what the Chicago Times called him on May 30 1st 1870. There's trouble ahead although not announced in the society Department of the Sunday papers it is nevertheless a fact that the GENIO tramp is making ready for his summer vacation and will soon be prepared to engage in deviltry on short notice. The tramp is the product of hard times companies panics droughts or whatever
providential curse happens to be the fashion just as regularly as effect follows cause or scratching the itch. The trampers is full of invention and mischief as spoiled Limburger cheese of maggots The tramp is not an ordinary beggar or low farm. It is all that and much besides. He's quite often desperado and if tramping is not nipped in the butt in time dangerous organizations of the band did he order will be the fruit. It is not owned by punishment of the crime people can be cured but at the same time you inflict a penalty. Something should be done to return the vagrant to the paths of industry. Load.
O O. O O. On the water tank at San Marcial New Mexico is the following bill of fare. Main Drag fare. Bo's not hostile. Roundhouse good for keeping northbound trains no good privates no good restaurants good for cooks only main drag fare conveys the information that begging for money on the main street is fair but was not hostile. Police will not bother hoboes round house good for kipping one can sleep in their own house. Northbound trains no good.
Ambiguous. The northbound trains may be no good to be and may be no good debate. Privates no good means that the residences are not good to beggars and restaurants good for cooks only means only hobos that have been cooks can get grub from the restaurants. Those that pass in the night. I remember one I met in California. He was a Swede but lived long in the United States. I ran into him first in a mountain town. No snap to strike a strange town. Broke at midnight in cold weather and find a place to sleep. We hadn't a penny. My total assets consisted of two dimes and a nickel from some boys we learned. Beer was five cents and that the saloons kept open all night. There was our meat two glasses would cost
ten cents. There'd be a STOL and chairs and we could sleep it out till morning. We headed for the lights of a saloon. The snow crunching under our feet. A chill wind blowing through us. Unless I had misunderstood the tomboys beer was 5 cents in water so lonely and didn't strike that one in the one we entered a store was roaring white hot. There were bottomed armchairs and on none too present looking barkeeper who suspiciously at us. A man cannot spend continuous days and nights in his clothes beating trains fighting sword and cinders sleeping anywhere and maintain a good front. Two beers said I nonchalantly the barkeeper drew them and set the glasses before us and with pride. I deposited the ten cents. I was dead game I'd have dug up another ten cents. Never mind if it
did leave me only a nickel to my name a stranger in a Strange Land. I just paid it all right. But that barkeeper never gave me a chance. As soon as he spotted the dime he seized the glasses dumped the beer into the sink behind the bar and letting that level and Lee said you got scabs on your nose you got scabs on your Noas you got scared on your nose. See I hadn't neither had the Swede. Our noses were all right. The barkeeper didn't like our looks and the beer was evidently ten cents a glass. I laid another dime on the bar. Your money's no good here said the man shoving the two dimes across the bar to me as we went out the door of the bar keeper still glaring and called after us you know got scared out of your nose. I have seen much of the world since then journeyed among strange lands and people opened many books sat
in many lecture halls but though I have pondered and deep I have been unable to divine the meaning in the cryptic utterance of that barkeeper in Evanston Wyoming. When trains were 60 40 and 28 minutes. It's six. Forty five minutes to tell. You to watch for. Us. Oh yeah very.
Good. Very calm. There it may not just knock that run away with run away with the man run away with the No. I was thinking that war with. Twilight I rode out on the first blind of the Overland not the first blind of a fast train in a driving snowstorm is no summer picnic.
The wind goes right through one strikes the front of the car and comes back again at the first stop. I went forward to the fireman and offered to shove cord to the end of his run. My offer was accepted. My work was out on the tender in the snow breaking the lumps of coal with the sledge and shuffling it forward to him in the cab. We arrived at Rawlins at midnight. The snow was bigger than ever as the train came to a stop I dropped off the engine steps plump into the arms of a large man in a large overcoat. He began asking me questions and I promptly demanded who he was just as promptly he informed me that he was the sheriff. I drew in my horns and listened and answered before he left he said. But this town is no place where you understand. You ride this train out and make no mistake about it if I catch you after it's gone. I assured him that the only reason I was there
was that the train had stopped there and I jumped back into the cab. But I got ditched. The new fireman was young and not yet lax enough to break the rules of the company. So he turned down my offer to shove coal. I remember watching the train as it was swallowed up in the snowstorm and of heading for a saloon. Here was light and warm everything in full blast and wide open Faro Roulette craps and poker tables were running and some mad cow punchers were making the night Merry. I had just succeeded in fraternising with the crowd and was dumping my first drink at their expense when a heavy hand descended on my shoulder. It was the sheriff without a word. He led me out into the snow. There is an orange special down there in the yard said he. It pulls out in ten minutes. That was it.
And when that orange special pulled out I was in the ice boxes. My quarter of a dollar bought me a hot breakfast at Laramie and immediately afterward I was on board the blind baggage of an overland that was climbing to the pass through the backbone of the Rockies. I don't have the shacks would have the heart to put me off in the blizzard and they didn't. But at the Summit of the Rockies the shack came forward. I say bull he said. You see that freight side tracked over there and I saw it on the next track six feet away. Well he said the after push of Kelly's army isn't one of them cars. They've got two feet of straw under them and there's so many of them that they keep the car warm. I found the car up by climbed Indian. I stepped on a man's leg next on some other man's arm. The light was dim and all I could make out was legs and bodies. Never was there such a tangle of humanity.
Eighty four husky hoboes stretched up. The man I stepped on were resentful but I could not find any straw to step upon so I stepped upon more men. I lost my footing and sat down with sharp abruptness. Unfortunately on a man's head the next moment I was flying through the air. What happened after that is vague in my memory. It was like going through a threshing machine. Those window to me all turned to what little was left of me found a bit of straw to rest upon was initiated into a jolly grog day we rode through the blizzard and to while the time away it was decided that each man was to tell a story. Never in my life have I sat at so marvellous a story telling to box. All right all right. Hungry. Well I'm going to show you how you can eat
it all there. It holds Barbero anything you want to put into it right now contains hot water. But tonight I'm taking a man out of Philly. Here's the red explained there was a carload of live chickens on a side track by the depot in town the tall one with rocks and leghorns all in creates a whole express car full of volunteers would sneak out of the jungle at night and grab as many of the crates as they could get away with some crates had only a pair of chickens in him some had six the plan was for each man to pick out a crate containing a large number of chickens. Read Warren if you don't come back to the jungle and expect to eat and if your conscience bothers you you needn't trail along. That night 20 or so unshaven stalwarts disappeared in the darkness toward San Bernardino a war council was held in underbrush and red spoke up
again. You men go down a track a few blocks you pick up some dry leaves and strong you place them in an empty box car and set a fire. And then return here and when it's smoking good you Dutch you run over to the depot and you tell your agent there's a box car burn down the track. And when he leaves the station put out fire the rest of his going action is every bozo for himself to grab a crate take the brush and hike for camp. There were two men in the station and both of them ran over to the smoking car. The hobos moved with Crane precision. Each grabbed up Hannah squawking chickens for man lugging the big containers were due to the small ones. The Raiders towed the crates down to the river bank and held a sacrificial rite. Then they dumped the slaughtered fall back into the crates took them to the camp fires glowed in the target are one squad neatly picked off the feathers. Another deep
cut up the poultry a third buried the feathers in refuse and after that all hands went back to the stream and washed up in cold water. Finally after cleaning the kettle we popped a chicken's into the great pot. And then we broke up the crates to feed the roaring flames. By that time the midnight prowling detail and returned from wherever they were with neighbor bags for cabbage potatoes onions Chili Peppers tomato parsley. Somebody brought along a bag of songs at two in the morning. I'm only getting started to simmer by sunrise. It was prime and we were famished sans spoons mysteriously appeared and we docked again this lasted us three days. Tramps for miles around heard of the feast drifted into camp. They tried to wheedle us in sharing with them but only those who brought along dessert for the gang or other food to vary our diet were permitted more
niceness for the moment. Meanwhile there was hell to pay at San Bernardino. It seems that a lot of pedigreed chickens had been stolen from an express car. The loss was terrific. Those followed been the result of years of scientific breeding and have been exhibited all over California. In fact at the time of a fan after they had been awaiting shipment to the Los Angeles County Fair and put Mona where they were expected to win medals cups blue ribbons and get prizes. These Audi birds were rare breeding stock but by the time railroad bulls reached our game there was no trace of them and most of the men had scattered. Even today if you chance to visit hobo jungles on the West Coast you're likely to hear men around campfires tell about the million dollar money again. It was caught. Many a wandering brother will claim that he
was either in one had mastered Pocatello or else was in on the greatest the whole time. But Rhode Island Red Ferguson and other famous boomers living they'll tell you there were less than 25 men in that race. Just at supper time as the freight was pulling out of a small town. A man climbed into the car where I was playing Pedro with three other stiffs. I turned my cards over to one of the stiffs. So I've done with a man who climbed aboard. It was the Swede. As the freight pulled into Omaha the Swede and I hung up on the side letters ready to drop off but long rows of policemen were lined up on each side of the track farther along we watched our chance and made a successful getaway. The rain began coming down in torrents and in the darkness we fumbled about for shelter.
In no time we stumbled upon a saloon not a saloon that was open and doing business not merely a saloon that was closed for the night and not even a saloon with a permanent address but a saloon propped up on big timbers with the rollers underneath that was being moved from somewhere to somewhere. The doors were locked. A squall of wind and rain drove down upon us. We did not hesitate. Smash went to the bar and in we went. I have made some tough camps in my time. I carried the banner in the Infernal Metropolis is bedded in pools of water slept in the snow under two blankets when the spirit thermometer registered 74 degrees below zero. But never did I pass a more miserable night than that night I passed with a Swede at Council Bluffs.
The building had a multitude of openings in the floor through which the wind whistled. There was no bottles firewater with which we could warm ourselves and forget our misery. We had no blankets and then our wet clothes we tried to sleep. I rolled under the bar and the Swede rolled under the table at the end of half an hour I crawled up on top of the bar. A little later the Swede crawled up on top his table and there we shivered and prayed for daylight. The Swede moaned and groaned and through chattering teeth muttered never again never again. 0 0.
0 0 0 0. Head on. We left our house of pain and outside
found ourselves in a mist dense. We stumbled on till we came to the railroad track. I was going back to Omaha to throw my feet for breakfast. The Swede was going to Chicago the moment for parting had come. Posi the hands went out to each other. We were both shivering. We stood alone shut off from the world on what we could see was a short length of railroad track. Both ends of which were lost in the driving mist speech strove for utterance in the Swede's throat then faint and distant in a thin whisper from the very bottom of his frozen soul came the words. You know her I hope. He paused and his voice gathered strength and huskiness as it affirmed his will never again. I am going to get a job. You had better do the same.
Nights like this make rheumatism. He wrung my hand good Bible said he good Bible said I. We were swallowed up from each other by the mist. It was our final passing. But here's to you Mr. Sweden where ever you are I hope you got that job. This land this heritage this people a series of radio programs tracing in word and music the footprints of America the turns we took the tales we spread the narratives letters diaries and songs have been adapted from primary source materials by Professor Robert E. Gard director of the
- Producing Organization
- Wisconsin Public Radio
- WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
- Contributing Organization
- The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Series Description
- "This program is part of a series adapted from primary source materials by Professor Robert E. Gard, Director of the Wisconsin Idea Theatre. Letters, diaries and other narratives have been arranged with traditional songs and original music to form flavorful presentations of various aspects of the American heritage."--1967 Peabody Awards entry form.
- Broadcast Date
- Asset type
- Media type
Producer: Johnson, Ralph W.
Producing Organization: Wisconsin Public Radio
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Writer: Gard, Robert E.
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the
University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-79df1e9a6fb (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
University of Maryland
Identifier: cpb-aacip-a4c4e9d1a1f (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “This Land, This Heritage, This People; Jack London and Hoboes That Pass in the Night,” 1967-12-29, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gb1xj45s.
- MLA: “This Land, This Heritage, This People; Jack London and Hoboes That Pass in the Night.” 1967-12-29. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gb1xj45s>.
- APA: This Land, This Heritage, This People; Jack London and Hoboes That Pass in the Night. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gb1xj45s