Serving the Hobo's

Sitting here this morning with a cup of coffee thinking about my daddy and momma, and the life we lived.

Daddy left home (long story) at 12 years old.

He became a hobo.

He rode the rails, looking for work - I know from his stories he was in Texas some, but not sure where else he went.

He did not find a place to settle until he was 22, when he met and married my momma.

He did not talk a lot about those 10 years, but every so often, he would tell a story.

Where I grew up in Northeast Texas, just 7 miles outside of Sulphur Springs, we lived on a parcel of land that was 1/2 an acre wide, and 3 acres long.

The backside of our place butted against the railroad there.

At that time, the railroad was much in use, and it was a morning thing to look out the front door and find from 1 - 100 hobo's sleeping in the yard, and on the front porch.

Momma and I would feed them.

Anyone and everyone could get water from our cistern.

But her rules for getting food?

She kept one flowerbed that no one but the hobo's were allowed to touch.

If someone asked for food, she would tell them to weed that flowerbed, or maybe pick up branches from the many trees, even hoe in the garden - while she cooked their breakfast.

Most did just that - and they sat down to eggs, meat, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and as much coffee as they could drink.

Those that refused to do any work?

They were given 1 cold biscuit and a cup of coffee.

Momma would say, "I won't turn away anyone who is hungry. But if you don't work, you won't eat good."

Then those that did not work, were asked to leave.

Those that did work, were allowed to stay for resting, and for another meal. 

Many of these sat with me on the front porch telling me tales of their travels.

Some of them listened to me read, some read to me.

I can remember a few that would have tears leaking down, and as a small child I would wipe those tears away asking what was wrong.

Their answer was always, "Oh nothing honey. You just remind me of my little girl back at home."

Those that came back, always seemed to bring some treasure to me, or to Momma.

I can remember walking thru the trees down towards the railroad tracks, back before daddy sold that part of the land - and seeing some of these markings on those trees. Along with some ribbons tied in the branches.

I asked daddy one time what they were, and he just said, "Don't you pay no mind. It's ok."

Hobo Code: The Signs and Symbols Used by Travelers of Old - Owlcation

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