Hobo Jungles

by Katie Shinn

Even though hobos have been around since the early 1800s, they were most prevalent during the 1930s during the great depression. This was because so many people lost their jobs and lost their houses, so they took to the rails to find new work, unknowing that there was no work anywhere. People who had bread and some coffee to spare would often give it to hobos in exchange for work.

Even though Hazel Dickens didn't produce "Only a Hobo" during the 1930s, it reflects the thoughts that people had of hobos when she was growing up. It calls out the fact that hobos had no one and basically lived on their own, so no one grieved when they died.

Hobo Jungles are where hobos would usually congregate when they stayed in any place for long. They created symbols for people in the community in hobo writing, these would help them to keep from getting hurt and with finding food.

Harry Kemp was a famous poet during the Great depression. He was known as the"hero of adolescent Americans" when he died. He was born in Youngstown, Ohio where he was the only child of a candy maker. At the age of seventeen he left home to become a common seaman; after returning to the United States he traveled across the country by riding the rails as a hobo. He later attended the University of Kansas, and while a student he began publishing verse in newspapers and magazines. He spent much of his maturity traveling; he stayed in a number of planned communities for varying lengths of time, then wrote autobiographical novels about his experiences. Kemps Tramping on Life: An Autobiographical Narrative (1922) was one of the best selling "tramp autobiographies" of the 1900-1939 period. When not traveling he was a regular denizen of Greenwich Village in New York City and Provincetown on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, where he was associated with the Provincetown Players. There is a street named for him, Harry Kemp Way, in Provincetown, MA. Harry Kemp was also known as the "poet of the dunes." Kemp lived on and off in a shack in the dunes of Provincetown, Cape Cod for a period of about 40 years, and he died there in 1960.  This is his  poem "I've Decked the Tops"

I've decked the tops of flying cars
That leaped across the night;

The long and level coaches skimmed
Low, like a swallow's flight.

Close to the sleet-bit blinds I've clung
Rocking on and on;

All night I've crouched in empty cars
That rode into the dawn,

Seeing the ravelled edge of life
In jails, on rolling freights

And learning rough and ready ways
From rough and ready mates.

                                                                        Works Cited

Hazel , Dickens. N.d. music. www.grooveshark.comWeb. 3 Apr 2014.


Hobo Jungle. N.d. Photograph. www.politicalforum.comWeb. 3 Apr 2014.


London, Jack. www.eyewitnesstohistory.com. N.p.. Web. 3 Apr 2014.


Riding the Rails. N.d. Photograph. hobojeepers.tripod.comWeb. 3 Apr 2014.


"Poet: Harry Kemp." www.poemhunter.com. N.p.. Web. 3 Apr 2014.         


"Hobo Poems." www.angelfire.com. N.p.. Web. 3 Apr 2014.


Kemp, Harry. "I've Decked the Tops." Trans. ArrayPrint.

Harry Kemp. N.d. Photograph. www.poemhunter.comWeb. 3 Apr 2014.     


Comment Stream