Thursday Apr 11, 2024

Ep. 19: Hobos

This week Joseph and Nathan discuss an American cultural figure that can be found at the cross section of many themes thus far covered in Silent Generation: the early 1900s, train travel, ethical codes, and situational homosexuality. Hobos are perceived as yesteryear’s equivalent of the modern homeless person but they were vastly different, hobos were migrant workers with a complex system of rules and cultural values. During the episode the boys pay particular attention to hobo landmarks in Chicago such as West Madison Street, Bughouse Square, and Ben Reitman’s hobo college. Amongst other things they discuss Kitt Kittredge, the umwelt, how the word “gay” originated from hobo slang, The Dawn of Everything, and crust punks. 



Hobos, Wandering in America, 1870-1940 by Richard Wormser

On Hobos and Homelessness by Nels Anderson

The Damndest Radical by Roger A. Bruns

The Hobo Ethical Code

The Case Against Travel by Agnes Collard

Alex Kaschuta’s tweet about stigmatization

Death of the American Hobo - VICE

Welcome to Oogleville by Gordon Lamb



This photograph (from 1870 - 1930)  is from the George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress. There are no known copyright restrictions on the use of this work.


Recorded on 4/8/2024

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