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Newspaper Page Text
HOBOES ARE NOT TRAMPS, AS PEOPLE THINK-
THEY'RE THE RESULT OF GREED OE CAPITAL
BY JANE WHITAKER
I am going to tell you of one of the greatest evils inflicted by capital
ism upon labor. r
There areover a million hoboes in the United' States. Lest you do
not know the difference between a hobo and a tramp, a hobo is a man win
ing to work when he can get work and a tramp won't work at all.
A great many people think a hobo is a lazy man, but they haven't ap
preciated the significance of that 95 per cent of labor against 5 percent of
The market is glutted with labor. If a worker gives up his job tonight
there are fifty, nSy, a hundred, willing to. take his place tomorrow at a less
wage than he was receiving.
And it is because of thiB over-surplus of labor, brought about throdgh
the greed or capital tnat forces us
to work if 'we are to live, that there
A hobo is somewhat of a philoso
pher. He has given up the idea of
getting any more out of lifethan Just
existence. He iB content to take the
work that Is offered him to do. Many
of these men are brilliant, many of
them are gifted, bujtthey are the sur
plus of labor.
'In the long ago, when I had not
begun to think about this problem of
capital and labor, l; first came into
contact with the migratory workers.
My brother, who had held a posi
tion as quartermaster on a merchant
ship, had some trouble with the first
mate and left the service. He did
not want to come home and tell
mother he was once morerout of em
ployment, so he tramped the country
until he reached Havre de Grace,
Maryland, where the shad fishing
season had just opened, and he se
cured work there.
His letters to me made me very
anxious to see him, and, as I had a
chance to so some night: work and
get extra money, I resolved to spend
it making my brother a visit.
I arrived ijt a town just across the
river fom Havre de Qrac2 on a
Saturday night, and my brother, as
he took me to the hotel, pointed out
a snacK, more UKe. a cnicjcen coop
than anything else, where he told, me
he and the two men working with,
"The fellows I work with are &o
boes, Jane," he said. "Tney just
work when they can get work in cer
tain seasons. They take their money,
buy a new suit of clothes, go'vlsit
their peopie and then fall back on
tramping through the count ry, look
ing for work, again."
The evil of the system that made
this, necessary did not strike me then.
It was just an odd picture, a little ro
mance in the scheme otexistenc3 and
I plied him with questions.
The next morning hecame to my
hotel and told me the two hoboes
wanted me to take dinner with them
at the shack.
My brother noticed that I was a lit
tle puzzled and he said: "Jane,
they'll treat you like a queen. The
old fellow is going to catch a shad
for you this morning because the fish
were all cleared away yesterday and
the young kid says he is going to rob
a henhouse for a-couple of eggs so
he can make a pudding. You'll have
a dandy time."
Again the romance appealed to me.
It was a stifling day for spring. The
mountains seemed to shut out the
air, the river was Vfithout a ripple,
and the violets, of whiclfthere was
a profusion underfoot, wilted on thair