What is a Hobo?
Hobo: A migratory worker who likes to travel, in contrast to a tramp who travels without working, and a bum, who neither travels nor works.
Hobos may have lacked money but they didn’t lack manners and they lived their hard-working, wandering lives while adhering to a strict code of Hobo ethics.
Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.
When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
Do not become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.
When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
The Hobo Code
Each can of Hobo beer is adorned with a sign taken from the Hobo Code
Hobo culture emerged during the Great Depression in the U.S when folk would travel to seek work and refuge by walking along long roads or ‘riding the rails’ on freight and passenger trains.
Of course, such wanderlust and exploration of the unknown wasn’t without its dangers and pitfalls. So, in order to aid each other in unfamiliar and often dangerous surroundings, Hobos created a imaginative code to communicate possible opportunity or endangerment.
The code was an ingenious array of drawings and markings that hobos would carve and scratch onto objects – fence posts, telegraph poles, houses and even rocks – for their fellow hard-working travelers.
Designed to ease the burden of hobo life, the code would reveal important places in town; sources of sustenance; the tolerance of locals towards hoboes; best places to beg; the region’s religious views; and any dangers like pitchfork wielding rednecks, violent police or dangerous dogs.
Messages relayed form one hobo to another ranged from the basic to the very specific and the language would constantly evolve to incorporate new challenges and changes to the Hobo lifestyle.