Chapter 1. Hobos


Suppose you didn’t wish to outwear your welcome. Suppose your welcome depended on its novelty. Suppose your idea of liberty was to ignore what others wanted. Suppose you were a freak and distrustful of strangers. Suppose you were dependent on things you didn’t wish to share. Suppose you lost everything including concern for what others think.


I may seem like a runaway child with my toothbrush in a bundle bound to a spindle over my shoulder. See how little a person needs. And it’s become lighter the longer I’ve carried it.

A dime in your pocket

A matter of perspective shows how little will suffice. You aren’t destitute if you have a dime. At no cost to anyone, you can hop a freight train or, with a bit of luck, hitch a ride in the back of someone’s truck. If you like, you can ask for work wherever there’s work to be had. You can rely on your brain and the strength of your arms. If you take care of yourself, no need to worry about others. Others can only tie you down and make you think less of yourself. If you have faults, it’s better not to have others to blame. No one else should have to tolerate you; it’s only you who have no choice.


I’ll chop wood or dig a well; I don’t care. I’ll work an hour for something to eat; I’ll work a day for pay; I’ll work a week if you let me sleep in your barn; but I don’t want a house; and I don’t need a room. Instead of a window that I can open, I’d rather have a road; I’d rather have a valley with a small river in it and no fences between me and the next hill.

Maybe the next town

People everywhere are only people, both good and bad. A show of kindness is not unusual, but it doesn’t always happen. You take your lumps and hope the next town won’t be worse.

The open road

When you’re on the road the next horizon is always near and soon. No one should begrudge you time to think your thoughts and room to think them in. If a sorry fate awaits you around the next turn, why hurry? Why worry about it?

Free will

They say our will is free but who’s to say that left is worse than right?


A man could live on rice and beans if there’s no one else to feed and no one to complain, especially if he can forage for mushrooms, roots, greens, and berries. The problem is having a place with room where he can be alone. There used to be wildernesses, but now every refuge is managed or owned. Someone sitting before a cave and giving good advice is only a joke.


Having no one to talk to is only a problem if you have something to say.


Why should you give others advice if you cannot abide following the advice of others?


During the Great Depression, many people were evicted from their homes, so makeshift camps appeared across the United States, usually on the outskirts of cities, and people called them Hoovervilles because it was Herbert Hoover, our thirty-first president, who brought on the depression and could have helped people and stopped the evictions, but he wouldn’t. The people who were out of their homes, it wasn’t their fault. These people found out what it meant to be on hard times, so they were accommodating to strangers and people like me. They could tell you where to find the nearest soup kitchen. They didn’t mind if you seemed a bit ragged and had no money. Wherever you hoped off a freight train, you always looked for a Hooverville.