Homeless On Purpose

The Depression marked the beginning of the age of the hobo. They were wanderers, down-and-outers, who criss-crossed the land searching for good luck and fortune during a time when none existed. Hitchhiking and hopping freights, begging a little here, borrowing a little there, they were welcomed only at the strange gatherings of other hobos at a thousand nameless railroad sidings and trestles. In the hobo jungle, over stew and re-brewed coffee, they would exchange tales of the hard times and strengthen their commitment to the “Code of the Road.”

The following are examples of the code used by gypsies and hobos the world over. This may be the only time you will see them somewhere other than written in chalk or coal on a fence, building, or sidewalk to make a fellow traveler aware of what they can expect in the area where the symbol appears. (Text provided by the National Hobo Museum of Britt, Iowa.)

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