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View Full Version : Hobos-minimalist survivor extraordinaire ?



countrydave
08-16-2010, 05:32 PM
Back during the later part of the 19th century the term "Hobo" (not to be confused with Tramp or Bum) was used to describe a migratory worker or vagabond hopping a freight train or riding the rails in search of work or whatever.

What a lot of people don't realize is that these man and sometimes women often had only what was in their pockets and a small "kit" to rely on.
They are what would be referred to as a "minimalist" survivor often relying on what could be scavenged to compliment what precious few staple items they carried with them.


I have in the last couple of decades noticed a big reliance on "stuff" to survive an ordeal or to just get by in life and loosing track of the valuable ability to make do with what you have or the ability to improvise.


So the point of this thread is this--

What kind of Hobo do you think you would make and what would you do to support your self?
What would you carry on your person and in your "kit" to see you through?

Now bear in mind that Hobos were often penniless and only carried the barest of essentials because anything of any value was often left with family or sold to help see them through.

madmax
08-16-2010, 05:54 PM
Know thyself. And being that I think I do, minimalism is great for a weekend or a week or even a month. I practice it frequently. It centers me and gives me perspective. But I ALWAYS wind up accumulating...things. Rocks,sticks,feathers, etc. If I stay at a base camp more than 2 days, I have to disassemble and redistribute all the "cool" things I pick up back to the woods before I strike camp. Same at home...scrap wood, tools, man toys,etc. So I probably wouldn't "hobo" long before looking for more permanent digs...just to store all my junk.:o

GreyOne
08-16-2010, 05:54 PM
A clasp knife, blanket roll, billy can salvaged from trash for cooking, a 2 liter soda bottle for water, same source, some matches or a cheap bic for fire, any spare clothes or food in the blanket roll. A large trash bag cadged from a store for a rain poncho or to keep gear dry. String or cordage as found or made.
That would handle the essentials, at least minimally.

statikpunk
08-16-2010, 06:07 PM
If I was gonna hobo it, my kit wouldnt be too much different than my regular kit, especially if money is an issue. the stuff would just be similar scavanged things ie coffee can istead of a zebra, tyvek instead of a tarp, stuff like that.

one thing I have always thought about, is when you think of the classic hobo you think of the stick with a hankercheif full of stuff hanging from it . i always wanted to try and make a kit i could survive with that would fit in a hankerchaif on a stick...wouldnt that be cool?!

Easy_rider75
08-16-2010, 06:25 PM
I'd love to try it with a coffee can stove a wool blanket knife maybe a hatchet. I think if given time I could probly go hobo style. Oh but I would need to bring a fish rod with me to

Spartan300
08-16-2010, 06:36 PM
Good interesting thread CD. If I were a hobo with very limited or no money and had only a handkerchief on a stick for my belongings what simple things would I carry? Hmmm good one. Maybe a small metal cup for boiling/drinking water in, a small can opener, a compass, some string or rope, safety pins, some fish hooks, and large ziploc bag. Maybe I could support myself by helping mow a yard, pull some weeds, or shovel some snow for a few bucks? As for what kind of hobo would I make? Probably a grouchy one at first! However as that lifestyle became more routine for me through being determined, being street smart, and learning to be innovative I guess I could be a pretty good ole hobo.:)

Trekon86
08-16-2010, 06:42 PM
\
one thing I have always thought about, is when you think of the classic hobo you think of the stick with a hankercheif full of stuff hanging from it . i always wanted to try and make a kit i could survive with that would fit in a hankerchaif on a stick...wouldnt that be cool?!

That setup is called a bindle. The people who carried them were commonly referred to as bindlestiffs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bindle
:)
PMZ

Seeker1968
08-16-2010, 07:00 PM
Rambo only needed a knife, he didn't need any stinking bindle.

:)

Nerual the Mad
08-16-2010, 07:00 PM
The image that often comes to mind is the old Our Gang. Those kids either found, made or sometimes borrowed everything they needed to have a good time. Or they just made due and what adventures they had.

Roob
08-16-2010, 09:21 PM
I'd carry a small pack for my bottles, but carry pretty much everything else on me.

A good steel cup or coffee can. a good knife 3-4 inch fixed blade. a little p38 can opener on a necklace. (if available) a Social Security Debit Card. A Gallon jug for water and a Knob Creek Bourbon bottle. I could beg for or day labor for enough money to fill the Bourbon bottle with cheap-o drug store whiskey and use it to befriend other hobos for information, companionship, food, shelter.

Considering i'd likely be hopping from station to station, I'd probably be doing alot of sleeping near train yards and cities so I'd probably also like some city clothes and perhaps a razor so as not to stand out too much and better chance of work from place to place.

Soap water and facilites are easy to find in the city, subway stations railways mcdonalds. shelter is likewise easy to obtain in material resource rich city alleys junks trash bins under bridges and other structures as well as subway tunnels and drainage systems. Trapping is a waste of time when 5 star restaurants throw out left overs and all you need to do to get them is scare away the other hobo who claimed the right to that dumpster.

Really, as I think about it, the life of the modern hobo, not so romantic as the idea of the old time Hobo... I bet the old time hobo had it pretty fkn rough too. We just imagine the cool part, ridin the rail, livin by your wits. Never consider the freezing nights, hungry in a boxcar covered in soot hoping that when you finally stop you aren't too hunger weak to run from the train yard dogs and get beat down by security guards again. Never know if those stories about hobo abduction and slave labour camps in Nevada are true, haven't seen your family in years, Not sure were the next town with work will be.

hard life.

Trekon86
08-16-2010, 09:27 PM
+1 on that, life of a hobo is a hard one, not one that most folk would choose unless they had no other choice.
PMZ

countrydave
08-16-2010, 09:54 PM
While the Bindle is the most "visualised" kit of the Hobo not many people realise the Hobos coat contained the majority of his "kit" with a variety of custom pockets sewn in to reduce the amount carried externally and to conceal any valuables the hobo may have.

Borealbushcrafter
08-16-2010, 10:00 PM
+1 on that, life of a hobo is a hard one, not one that most folk would choose unless they had no other choice.
PMZ

+1 Yep, Most people nowadays are way too soft for a life like that. It's all a great Romantic Notion of being free to do what you want, when you want type of thing.

Cascade Man
08-16-2010, 10:30 PM
A clasp knife, blanket roll, billy can salvaged from trash for cooking, a 2 liter soda bottle for water, same source, some matches or a cheap bic for fire, any spare clothes or food in the blanket roll. A large trash bag cadged from a store for a rain poncho or to keep gear dry. String or cordage as found or made.
That would handle the essentials, at least minimally.

Grey One has the list I would go with.

Roob
08-17-2010, 12:01 AM
I did know some squatter-punk rocker guys around 1998 that rode boxcars from Sarasota Florida to Portland oregon one summer to make it out there for whatever reason. Sarasota is where the ringling brothers circus stages their show and still ship elephants via rail so they said they figured they'd ride with the circus but ended up on a phosphate train as well as others throughout the country

their 'kit' I believe was two spikey leather jackets combat boots and stuff, a jansport backpack of clothes cds, a bottle of misslabeled booze and a credit card in place of rations.

They said it was surprisingly easy to cross the country like this, if you dont mind being FILTHY when you arrive, and the only real danger beyond falling off while jumping on and off trains was the illegals who jump trains, will try to rob you while you sleep.

food for thought. crazy teenagers with nothing to lose, modern day hobo descedents, doing it for cheap thrills instead of out any real necessity.

smokewalker
08-17-2010, 12:53 AM
Wool Blanket, coffee can, some nails,needles, dental floss, hacksaw blade,some type of a metal cup, 2 liter soda bottle, cotton close line, matches, butane lighter, small fish hooks, a spoon, paring knife, boyscout Knife(can opener AWL screwdriver) newspaper and a big trash bag, hat, sweater,two plastic bags(the kind you haul stuff home from the store in). What isn't stuffed in a pocket or being worn would be in a pack made from the cotton line and the wool blanket.or carried in the billy can if the blanket was being worn as a Capote.

werewolf won
08-17-2010, 07:04 AM
[QUOTE=Borealbushcrafter;274272 Most people nowadays are way too soft for a life like that. [/QUOTE]

I disagree with that. People are more resilient than they are given credit for.
While the number seems difficult to pin down exactly, a quick web search shows that between 2.3 to 3.5 million Americans are homeless, with another 1.5 million estimated to join that number in the next year. The streets aren’t piled high with dead homeless people, so that’s a lot of people making due with little to nothing. They are not in this condition because they want to be, but they survive because they have to, and they can.
Wolf

madmax
08-17-2010, 07:19 AM
I disagree with that. People are more resilient than they are given credit for.
While the number seems difficult to pin down exactly, a quick web search shows that between 2.3 to 3.5 million Americans are homeless, with another 1.5 million estimated to join that number in the next year. The streets arenít piled high with dead homeless people, so thatís a lot of people making due with little to nothing. They are not in this condition because they want to be, but they survive because they have to, and the can.
Wolf
The human spirit should never be underestimated. And we are all a heartbeat away from life-changing events that we never-in-a-million-years thought would happen to us.

werewolf won
08-17-2010, 08:00 AM
A couple of issues with train travel is that many modern trains are sealed container trains, not box cars; and many trains don’t move cars the distances they used to. Catch a box car today you apt to wake up on the other side of town, not the other side of the State :D
Wolf

rasp181
08-17-2010, 04:33 PM
Actually that lifestyle still exists, only they call themselves "travellers" now. I have met a few and talked with them through my job. Instead of relying on any "foraging" skills they usually go into towns and get what they need from shelters, church pantries, etc. Most of them travel form city to city by bus on tickets bought for them by the same sources as they rely on for food and clothing. It's still the same wonderlust, just a different method.

Beo-wulf
08-17-2010, 04:44 PM
I disagree with that. People are more resilient than they are given credit for.
While the number seems difficult to pin down exactly, a quick web search shows that between 2.3 to 3.5 million Americans are homeless, with another 1.5 million estimated to join that number in the next year. The streets aren’t piled high with dead homeless people, so that’s a lot of people making due with little to nothing. They are not in this condition because they want to be, but they survive because they have to, and they can.
Wolf

I continue to serve full time as the evening Chaplain for a down town homeless shelter. Been here 6 years. Every now and then we get a guy who can survive on his own, but rarely. Most wouldn't make it if it were not for the shelters. All too often shelters just enable people to sit around and let others wait on them. (We try hard to not do that where I work.)

Someday, I'll have to start a new post on my 6 year work with and observations of the homeless and how they are prepared, what they carry, etc.

If you would like to hear more about this, please let me know.

Roob
08-17-2010, 05:14 PM
I'd be interested in that Beowulf. I had gone down to the train trestle behind my apartments to donate an edible plants manual to the guys living down there. I was hoping it would be met with interest since it could help them help themselves, but they were literally more interested in its resale value at the used bookstre

"got any hardbacks, we could get more for hardbacks"

you can teach a horse to fish, but you cant make him drink. lol

Trekon86
08-17-2010, 05:14 PM
Yeah I'd have to agree with Beowulf on this one.
A lot of homeless folk prefer the homeless life cause they get free handouts everywhere. Some of them actually make out like bandits. Begging is actually a fairly lucrative business, and is tax-exempt (or tax-overlooked).
PMZ

statikpunk
08-17-2010, 05:36 PM
I worked at a community training center for 6 years, where I trained the mentally handicapped, part of that buisiness was a thrift store where we helped a lot of homeless people, we didnt shelter anyone but we would give out canned goods and anything from the store they needed. and beo-wulf hit the nail on the head most of them would just lay down and die if it wasnt for the hand outs, but I met some really cool self reliant ones over the years, who traveled because they wanted to not because they were worthless.
I remember one guy that showed up every year, he had a really cool dog, he was always really clean for being a traveler and all he ever wanted from us was socks, and dog food if we had it. i always tried to get him to take more, but he just wanted socks. he had some really neat stories.
working with the mentally handicapped really made me sensitive to the signs of being handicapped, and i noticed a lot of homeless people exibited the signs of being mildly mentally handicapped. it was sometimes hard for me knowing that the only difference between those people and the handicapped i worked with was probably a family member to help them sign up for government aid.

also one time I saw a guy on my way to work (not the thrift store) that was walking alongside the highway with a huge beard and he wore coveralls, he had two horses and two dogs, and i could see the hint of an old canvas wall tent and the poles sticking off the back of one of the horses ..now thats a true modern day pioneer, I really wanted to talk to him but I didnt have time to stop.