A TWO DAY HOBO LIFE
OR
BY BREAD ALONG CAN MAN LIVE

Times were hard and tough in our town of Dickson City, PA in the depression year of 1933. I was living with my half-sister Pearl, who already had five children, and my brother-in-law Latzo; they raised a family of ten. Latzo was a "character" with a charisma and he was well-liked by most anyone he came into contact with. One early June summer day, he talked and charmed me into riding a freight train to Pocono Summit, PA to pick blueberries in the wild woods, and later to sell them to a local market.

Our town had two railroads running through it: 1. The Delaware and Hudson and 2. The New York-Ontario & Western. As young boys we would hop on a slow moving train for a short ride. It was dangerous to grab the rung of a steel ladder that was attached to each railroad car; but we gave little thought to this as we caught a ride.

So now to begin my two day hobo life with Latzo. We "hopped" a coal train from Dickson to Scranton about five miles away. We then "jumped off" and walked cross-town to the outskirts of the railroad, Erie & Lackawanna R.R., which ran from Buffalo, NY to Hoboken, NJ. We positioned ourselves on a sloping upgrade, here the train's speed was considerably slowed by the sloping terrain. One had to be careful to run alongside the moving train, catch and swing ones body up onto the rung of the boxcar ladder. Our journey was a short 35 miles. Latzo knew the train would stop at Pocono Summit to take on water for the locomotive. We "jumped off" as the train came to a stop. Nearby the railroad track was a small pond of water with a side branch of track leading to an old and discarded icehouse. Soon we met a "hobo" named "Skurki" who Latzo knew. He informed us that the blueberries were not in season yet.

Darkness was approaching, so we three set out to the railroad boxcar near the icehouse. Inside the boxcar, which contained sheets of wrapping paper, we covered our bodies with paper as we lied down on the boxcar floor, this was to keep off the night chill. It was surprising how effective it was!

In the morning we returned to the pond, and there was "Skurki" shaving his beard, just by holding a single Gillette razor blade with his fingers as he crouched near the edge of the pond.

We had nothing to eat, and here was the "set-up": a small grocery store was a short distance from the pond and these two hobo's nominated me to put the "touch" on the store owner for some bread and whatever he could donate in food. I was very shy, and didn't want this task. They convinced me that many moons ago they put the "tab" on the grocer and as a result, since I was a first time stranger, the man was likely to believe my story of the off-season blueberry picking. I was successful, the grocer gave me a loaf of bread and some slices of baloney.

We lingered around the pond consuming the food. Skurki tried to catch pan fish with a make-shift line but had no success. The nightfall was soon upon us - back to the empty boxcar for another night of rest.

Early the next morning we 'hopped" a freight train that was going in the direction of Scranton. On the downward incline just before the city, we "jumped" off. Walking the railroad track we soon came upon a city garbage dump and found some food scraps from a food market. We found some hot-dogs, washed off the dirt in a nearby stream, then Skurki and Latzo roasted them "dogs" over a small twig fire. When one feels the pain of hunger, prides takes a back seat to satisfy the human body.

After many hours, we finally reached Dickson. As we came near our home, the drift of a pleasant aroma filled our senses. My sister, Pearl was baking fresh white loaves of bread, as only she could bake m'm'm'. Rushing into the house we quickly poured ourselves cups of coffee and spreading butter on the hot slices of homemade bread was a satisfaction of joy never to be forgotten.

I later told Latzo my "fling" as a hobo was history!

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