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What is an Urban Hobo

What is an Urban Hobo

For those that may not be familiar with “Hobos”, it may help to give you brief history.

The first recorded use of the term Hobo appeared in the Western U.S. around 1890. However, the Hobo movement begun much earlier, right after the end of the Civil War. It is not clear where the term Hobo originated. Some suggest the origins come from the farming term hoe-boy meaning “farmhand”. Others suggest that it comes from the railroad greeting Ho beau, or the syllabic abbreviation of homeward bound (i.e., HO BO). Essentially a Hobo was a migratory laborer, a wandering worker. Due to economic strife, it was necessary for many men to leave home in search of work. Hobos are closely associated to the railroad. As they moved across the country, the railroad was the preferred mode of transportation. Sooner or later hobos would return home to their families. Over time, the term hobo became synonymous with “Tramp” and “Bum”. Hobos were neither! The difference being that hobos travelled to work. Tramps travelled looking for handouts. They only worked when absolutely necessary. Bums seldom if ever travelled, and never worked. Hobos even developed a strict code of ethics which they lived by, something neither tramps or bums concerned themselves with. The code of ethics read as follows;

1. Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.
2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
3. Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.
7. When jungling (i.e., camping) in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
8. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
12. Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
13. Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
15. Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
16. If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts!

Today, the term Hobo evokes a romantic image of someone who took charge of their own destiny and embraced their spirit of adventure. Someone who lived their own life by their own rules. Someone who followed their own path.

Urban Hobo pays tribute to the Hobo spirit by encouraging others to embrace their spirit of adventure by exploring their city, state or region. Embrace your own sense of style and taste. Live your own life. Choose your own path.

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Tools…Juan’s Perspective

One of the things that gives our art work a unique character are the tools we use. These aren’t just any run-of-the-mill hardware store tools. These tools have a history. A soul. Many of them belonged to our parents and grandparents. We don’t simply enjoy using them because of their family history. It goes much deeper than that, because we each grew up using these very same tools. And, each of them has provenance. Each of these tools were used in a professional trade.

Here are a few examples of the tools we currently employ in our tin work. The two dollies were used by my Grandpa Smith in his Radiator/Body Shop in the 1920’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s. Back when cars were made from actual steel. If you needed to shape a new body part or re-shape a damaged one, you would place the appropriate dolly behind the piece of steel and pound on the other side with a hammer, until the desired shape was achieved. These dollies are made from solid blocks of steel. After they were retired to my Grandfather’s personal workshop, I used them for many “important” projects when I was a kid. I even used them to pound out a few dents in friend’s cars.

One of the ball peen hammers belonged to my Grandpa Swinford. He used it in his carpentry business and I used it when I first learned to hammer nails (it was a lot lighter than a claw hammer and I hit the wood as often as I hit the nail, so it really didn’t matter if it was the right tool or not).

The other ball peen hammer belonged to Shawn’s Mother, Phyllis. She used it in her Art Gallery. Shawn spent a lot of time working in the gallery and used it to hang pictures.

Each of these tools were originally used professionally, for years, in artful endeavors. Over time they developed scars and wear and characters all their own. These very tools were used by our parents and grandparents to teach us skills and pass along a little bit of their knowledge. We are carrying on that tradition by using them in our own artful endeavors. Used together, they shape our tin work and give each piece a unique appearance and a little bit of history all their own.

 

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