Archive for the ‘On the Road’ Tag

The Life of a Hobo   18 comments

hobo

This is from the blog ColorStorm:

Let’s face it, there is an element of sympathy for a soul who lives ‘on the rails’ as it were; no place to call home, feeding on others leftovers, not owning a pillow, no steady job, an unfortunate identity, a ‘nobody,’ sloppy in appearance, somewhat odorous, no phone, no address, and most sadly of all, no true family.

We like to think we do not know anybody like this, for that would be an indictment of our own lack of ‘love thy neighbor’ but sadly, we do in fact know a hobo or two.

It is easy to confuse a beggar with a hobo, for we mistakenly put them in the category of lazy souls looking for a handout, with no meaningful differences, both being an encroachment to society, but the hobo is a man not afraid to work.

He finds rest on the ‘cow crates,’ those rolling freight cars bringing him to another place,  looking for a moment to belong. The search is short, and a meal is traded for a small amount of labor. The hobo does not want a handout, for he has mettle in his soul.

Remember the ‘kid’ nobody wanted on their team, remember the girl who smelled funny, remember the guy who had no friends, remember the strange lad on the bus who everyone thought was from outer space? Well, these kids grew up, and to this day they have no friends.

Their peculiarity grew stronger and they were forced to a life of separation, whose days were fixed by the seeds of neglect. These ‘nobodies’ were made so by the artificial and unfounded opinions of people who looked on ‘outward appearance’ only.

These hobos became weeds of humanity, just ‘in the way’ of others good fortune, and a mere blight on an otherwise good day. Immediate thoughts of ‘get a job,’ ‘mooch,’ or ‘beggar!’ are common when we see these souls.

Perhaps more is revealed about ourselves than we would like to admit when we run into these kind, for our hearts cannot hide from the arrow of honesty; our thoughts have spoken. But the hobo is a step up from the average beggar, for this man travels the world looking for his next adventure with another strange bedroom only to be found in the great outdoors.

What then is not to like about an adventurer? Unplanned, not knowing what, when and where  a day will bring, accountable to not a soul, where friendships are rare, and judgments by others are even less. Perhaps the hobo has found a way to go through life hiding from the scrutiny of others, no more fear of being ridiculed for simply waking up.

Maybe the hobo would not exist if it were not for the indifference of the privileged.  This ‘bum’ has become a master of the game of ‘hide and seek,’ for hiding is easy and  seeking is a necessity. He has crafted a life of unexpected predictability where the day is arranged by a pattern of decisions that always lead down the road.

The hobo is industrious and strange in the best possible way, with manners that exceed most others. He is the lone maverick who does not engage in jealousy; he simply plays the cards he has been dealt, for whatever reasons, he must live this life.

He gets no mail, has no address, does not have a phone, has no place he really must attend, and if he has a friend, that would be the greatest of jewels. Mind you, he knows a lot of other hobos, but long difference friendships with others who also have no means of communication are difficult to maintain.

It would be easy to be jealous for a hobo, in the very best way, for a life of faith is definitely called for. The charm of what city or farmland will he see the setting sun from today, brings a small upward turn of the lips when considered.

Most will find a slur at the life of a hobo, but consider the benefit of such an aloof life. Waking up like a bird and flying as the breeze permits, following the instinctual chirp of safety, feeding, water, and  touching base with others. Sharing moments of life before passing on yet again, God knows where.

The hobo is probably an intellectual who never ‘fit in,’ or should I say, was never welcomed in the norm of society by  they who paved the way for his solitary life. So while the hobo knows he is considered  a piece of trash by some, a ‘nobody’ by most, and thought to be fool by others,  yet he knows in his heart of hearts, there is value in trash, for he reads, ‘there is much food in the tillage of the poor.’  Yes, this man is a closet scholar.

Reminds me of Another who lived life without a reputation, a nobody, a person thought to be trash-like by the honorable members of the human race. This man too was homeless, but he did not beg, he had not where to lay his head, unlike foxes who at least have holes.

He was thought to have a devil, and his piercing questions revealed knowledge that was other worldly: ‘How can David’s son be David’s Lord?’ Yes, a hobo as it were, held in disdain by most, doubted by they closest to him, and understood by none. Truly a man without a country, yet strange for he owned all, yet kept under wrap his deserved majesty.

His moral glory however could not be dismissed, for he said ‘which of you convinces me of sin?’ a question for the ages still unanswered. This man was full of character, his yes was yes, and no was no. His word was good. He was okay with being known as a miscreant; he was okay being called a religious fanatic; he was okay sitting in the back of the bus; he was okay not being picked for the team, he was okay sleeping with the animals, and being homeless, well, that was expected.

While a  hobo may have impeccable character, he cannot take away your sin. This One who was friend to that devilish Judas Iscariot had every reason not to ‘friend’ him, but the exquisite nature of a good man could not be hidden.

Beggar, hobo, very little difference except in the area of character, but we must guard our hearts when we face such kin. The other man of ‘unfortunate identity,’ well, that’s another story.  Yes, some thought he was a hobo, a complete nobody, and in this incorrect assessment, we learn the worth of the Son of God, and if we care to learn even further, we may glimpse into the heart of man, and not enjoy what we see.

He took upon himself ‘no reputation,’ do we get this? A man whose understanding was infinite, a man in whom dwelt ALL the fullness of the Godhead, this man walked with a reputation that was ‘nothing.’ He said nothing when Herod called him a magician, and was mute when Pilate asked Him ‘what is truth?’  Yes, just another hobo.

Yet, this ‘nobody’ took upon himself the righteous wrath of a holy God against sin, something a nobody could not do. If you see a hobo say hello, offer  a kind word, a glass of water, a meal, something. Not only is it decent, but you may be entertaining an angel unaware.

The First Time I Rode a Freight Train
Gorges’ Grouse
The Helena Hobo

Posted February 28, 2015 by Tim Shey in Uncategorized

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The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless   14 comments

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The Wild Truth
By Carine McCandless

I wrote this book review on Amazon.com:

It took a lot of courage to write this book. I am sure it brought back a lot of painful memories. It was well-written and I hope more people read The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless.

After reading this book, the reader gets deeper insights into why Chris McCandless chose to sever all ties with his family and wander into the wilderness of Alaska. You don’t have to survive a firefight in the jungles of Vietnam or the deserts of Iraq to suffer from trauma. You can experience trauma in your own family. Chris McCandless had had enough physical and emotional abuse for one lifetime, left family and friends behind and drifted. His life was short, but he lived life to the fullest. Chris McCandless had an undefeatable spirit.

Not all who wander are lost.

Hebrews 11: 37-38:  “. . . they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

[Several years ago I was hitchhiking in western South Dakota and this lady picked me. She told me that she and her boyfriend had picked up Chris McCandless while he was hitchhiking through South Dakota in the early 1990s. She said that he went by a different name.]

Amazon.com
The Boston Globe
Carine McCandless and the Hidden Story Behind “Into the Wild”

It’s a Small World   6 comments

ainsworth

Ainsworth, Nebraska

Hitchhiking on U.S. 20 in Nebraska.

[25 February 2010]

Yesterday I was walking east on U.S. 20 between Bassett and Stuart, Nebraska when this car pulled over to give me a ride. This guy’s name was Shawn and he was going to Atkinson on an errand. We got to talking and he just got back from a mission trip to Mexico. Shawn used to be a pastor at a few churches. He recently lived in the Star Valley area of western Wyoming. He now lived in Valentine, Nebraska with his wife Theresa.

After Atkinson, we drove to Ainsworth to pick up his wife. We stayed at their friends’ place for supper and then drove west of Ainsworth to this farm to see a couple that they knew. We walked to the house and the man motioned for us to come inside. I looked at the man and he looked familiar. His name was Greg and his wife was Marla.

We talked for a while and Shawn told Greg and Marla that he had picked me up on the road earlier that day. I think Shawn then asked Greg if he had ever picked up any hitchhikers. Greg said that he and his wife picked up this hitchhiker in Idaho four or five years ago and that the hitchhiker had written a book. They dropped the hitchhiker off in Missoula, Montana.

Greg then said that the hitchhiker sent him a copy of his book. He searched for a short while and then produced the book [typescript]. It was my book! (High Plains Drifter)

It was a photocopy that this lady in Lewiston, Idaho had sent to them. She picked me up hitchhiking in the fall of 2004 and told me to give me a floppy disk of my book and that she would make some photocopies and then send it to anyone I wanted. She owned a print shop in Lewiston.

I told Greg that he probably picked me up on U.S. 12 somewhere between Kooskia and Lolo Pass, Idaho in the fall of 2004. We talked about it some more and I believe he picked me up at a gas station at Lowell or Syringa, Idaho.

We stayed at Greg and Marla’s place for an hour or so and had some excellent fellowship.

It’s a small world.

[Published by Digihitch–July 26, 2011]

Nebraska
A Ride in Nebraska, Blue Highways and William Least Heat-Moon

Interview #55: Interstate 20 to Grovetown   8 comments

ray-opt

This is from The Hitchhike Interviews blog:

I wasn’t even trying to hitch when Ray stopped. The last ride had brought me within a few miles of where I was staying, so I started walking. Ray pulled over and waved at me anyway. As with everyone, I asked why he stopped.

“Sunday they told this story in church about a guy who was waiting for a visit from Jesus. A woman came by his house to ask for some help, and he said I’m sorry I’m busy. Later a man came, and he told him the same thing. When he finally got to heaven, he said ‘Jesus I thought you were coming,’ and he said ‘I did I came to you as a woman, as a man… Anyway, I was thinking about that story and I thought I gotta pick that guy up.”

[Grovetown is in Georgia]

Hitchhiking in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales   6 comments

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Back in September or October of 1980, I took a train and left Carlow, County Carlow in Ireland and headed north towards Dublin.  I had been working on a farm near Carlow for the past two months for Jim Foley and his family.  I got to Dublin and took a bus across the city center to this train station on the north side.  From there I took a train to Dundalk and then caught a bus to Kingscourt, County Cavan.

I had been told by some relatives back in the States that there was a Fr. Mackin who lived in Kingscourt.  He was staying at the Mackin Hotel.  Fr. Mackin was the priest at my grandparents’ parish in Red Oak, Iowa.  After he retired, he moved back to Ireland.

I arrived in Kingscourt and walked to the Mackin Hotel.  I met Fr. Mackin and he was very happy to see me and glad to hear that I was related to Dan and Bertha Shey of Red Oak.  (Grandma Shey died in Pharr, Texas in 1977; Grandpa Shey died in Houston in 1978).  His nephew and wife owned the Mackin Hotel and Fr. Mackin said that it would be all right if I stayed the night.

Later that evening, Fr. Mackin showed me a photograph of my grandparents when they were living back in Iowa.  I thought that was a nice detail:  I had travelled all the way to Ireland and met someone who knew my grandparents—and he still had a photograph of them.  Fr. Mackin spoke highly of my grandparents.

(A little side note:  Dan Shey’s grandfather (O’Shea) came from County Kerry; Bertha (Cruise) Shey’s father came from County Roscommon.)

So I stayed the night, packed my backpack the next morning, said goodbye to Fr. Mackin and hit the road.

I walked a few miles and this guy picked me up.  He said that maybe I shouldn’t be hitchhiking so close to the border with Northern Ireland.  Just a week before, this IRA (Irish Republican Army) gunman hijacked a car and drove into Northern Ireland.

We drove several miles and we stopped at this place where a construction company had its office—there was some road construction in the area.  The guy told me that the managing director of the construction company was there and that he might give me a ride into Northern Ireland.  A few minutes later, the managing director walked outside.  I was introduced to him by the other guy and I now had a ride towards Belfast.

I don’t remember the managing director’s name, but we had an intense talk about a lot of things.  He was raised in Wales and went to college at Cambridge.  He told me that he had played a lot of rugby as a young man and had hitchhiked all over England and France playing rugby.

Driving through Northern Ireland, I saw this military helicopter land near this farmhouse and these armed soldiers jumped out of the helicopter and ran towards the farmhouse.  I had a surprised look on my face.  The guy told me that you see the British Army a lot in Northern Ireland.

He originally was going to drop me off on the outskirts of Belfast, but we had such a great talk, he said that he would drop me off at the docks in Larne instead.  I told him that my plan was to take a ferry across to Scotland and travel to Dundee and look up the relatives of the Jim Foley family of Carlow.

He dropped me off in Larne and I got on a ferry to Stranraer, Scotland.

When I got to Stranraer, I met this guy from France.  He asked me, “Do you speak French?”

I shook my head and  said, “No.”

Then he asked, “London?”

I replied, “South.”  Then I pointed south.

The Frenchman walked to the highway and began to hitchhike.  I walked to the bus station and sat there for a while.  I walked outside an hour later and the Frenchman was gone—he had gotten a ride.  I went back inside the bus station and slept there that night.

The next day I got a bus to Glasgow.  From there I got on a bus to Stirling, Perth and then to Dundee.  I stayed at a motel that night in Dundee.  I then phoned the relatives of the Jim Foley family.  They said it would be all right to stay with them for a short while.  I stayed there a week and then got on a bus from Dundee to London.

I arrived at Victoria Station in London and then got on another bus to Southampton.  In Southampton, I walked around near the docks and visited four shipping companies.  I asked them if I could work for my passage to South Africa.  I wanted to eventually end up in Tanzania where a friend of my family, a Catholic priest, worked at a mission.  All four shipping companies turned me down; they said that they didn’t let people work for their passage anymore.

By that time, it was getting dark and I didn’t know where to go.  I went to this St. James Shelter for homeless men, but they didn’t let me in because I told them that I had some money on me (they only allowed men who were penniless).

I walked and walked all over downtown Southampton.  It started to rain and I was getting cold and wet.  I started to get down in the dumps.  I then walked to the police station and asked a policeman there if I could stay in the jail overnight.  He said absolutely not; the jail was for criminals only.  Then I really became dejected.  The jailer later told me that I could go to the Salvation Army and they would put me up for the night for five pounds.  I thanked him and walked to the Salvation Army where I had a warm bed to sleep in that night.

The next day after breakfast, I walked to the edge of this highway on the west side of Southampton.  I waited an hour and got a ride.  We drove through Salisbury and stopped at this pub where the guy bought me a pint of beer.  He told me that he had been to America before and thought that the beer in America tasted terrible.

We then drove through Bath, past Bristol and into Wales.  He dropped me off and then I got a ride with this guy and we went through Abergavenny, Llandovery, Llandeilo and Carmarthen.  I got another ride to Haverfordwest and then got dropped off around fifteen miles from Fishguard.

It was raining and past sundown and I sat at this bus stop for awhile and tried to sleep, but couldn’t.  I saw this little shed behind the bus stop, so I walked to the shed, found some hay and covered myself up with the hay and slept there that night.

The next day I walked to Fishguard and then to the docks.

I had a little money on me, but not enough to take the ferry across to Ireland.  At the docks, I met this Englishman and this Irishman.  The Englishman asked me if I could help the Irishman.  The Irishman hitchhiked from London to Dover thinking that he wanted to go to France.  He changed his mind and then hitchhiked to Fishguard.  He had no money on him.  Well, to make a long story short, the Englishman, the Irishman and myself put our heads together, put our money together and we all three were able to get on the ferry to Ireland.

The ferry took us from Fishguard to Rosslare Harbor in County Wexford.  The Irishman thanked me and thanked me and thanked me for helping him out.  He said that I could stay with his family in Wexford for the night, but I declined the offer.  We shook hands and I began walking down the highway.

I walked several miles and it was way past sundown.  I saw this shed in a pasture, so I jumped over the fence and slept in the hay bales of that shed that night.

The next day I hitchhiked back up to Carlow and phoned the Foley family.  I stayed there with the Foley family and helped with the sugar beet harvest.  I then flew back to the States around the 1st of November.

May 1981:  Northern Ireland and Bob Jamieson of NBC News
Setting Sail:  Irish Immigration During the Potato Famine
Born Fighting:  How the Scots-Irish Shaped America
Athy, County Kildare, Ireland
Revival in Ireland?
Hitchhiking Stories from Digihitch

map-of-carlow-hotels

County Carlow

carlow

Ireland

An Email from Joke and Hans Grutter   Leave a comment

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This morning I received a nice email from Joke (pronounced “yoka”) and Hans Grutter:
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Dear Tim,
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Last week we received your book the High Plains Drifter. It was very interesting to read. I read through it in “one breath” as we call it. When I read all the places you have been, it brings up memories because we visited some of the places (cities) too.
I now also know why your email address  is “sawman”.
We hope and pray that you are doing fine and that the Holy Spirit keeps sending you where HE wants you to go and that you may be a blessing to the people you meet.
We are doing fine, and if we ever do a trip again like this year, we will inform you where we will be travelling so maybe we can meet somewhere along that trip.
We will pray for you.

Love and greetings,

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Joke & Hans Grutter, The Netherlands
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Getting a Ride with Hans and Joke Grutter
A Book Review for High Plains Drifter
Hitchhiking in Nebraska

 

A Man’s Foes Shall Be They Of His Own Household   2 comments

Bonnie and Clyde, 1933

Several days ago I was walking on I-90 heading west from Belgrade, Montana.  I walked around three miles and this pickup pulled over.  I got in the pickup and met a young lady named Melissa.

She drove me from Belgrade through Butte and Missoula, Montana over Lolo Pass and dropped me off at my friends’ place near Kooskia, Idaho.  It was a good, long ride.

Melissa and I had a great conversation.  She told me that she was raised in West Virginia and that she left home at eighteen and ended up out west in Nevada.  She soon met her husband, they got married and now she is a stay-at-home mom taking care of four children.

Melissa told me that she went through a lot of abuse from her alcoholic father. At a very young age, she wondered why she was put in that family.  Melissa said that her grandmother was a second cousin to Bonny Parker of Bonny and Clyde fame—outlaws back in the 1930s.  She said that she had to break away from the family curse (a criminal element) in her family.  Some families are so toxic, sometimes the best thing to do is to get away from your family, go some place else and start over.  Melissa is a Christian and it looks like the Lord is taking care of her and her family very well.

The Lord puts people in your path for a reason.  The day after Melissa dropped me off, I noticed a book on the shelf at my friends’ place in Kooskia.  The title was Sins of the Father by Eileen Franklin and William Wright; it took me three days to read.  I believe the Lord wanted me to read Sins of the Father for a reason, so I sent an email to Melissa and told her about the book.

Matthew 10: 34-39:  “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.   For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.   And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.   He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.   And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.   He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

Matthew 12: 46-50:  “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.   Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.   But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?   And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!   For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Bonnie and Clyde
Sins of the Father
The Jerry Shey Family
Obedience:  The Bondage Breaker
Walkin’ Joe and the Midnight Marauders
The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde