Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Hobo Racket in Michigan

     It's amazing what you can find in a church jumble sale! My mother came back with an ancient publication entitled, The Autobiography of a Super Tramp by W. H. Davies, the first paperback reprint of what was claimed to be a classic. It certainly possessed a foreword by George Bernard Shaw in the original 1907 edition, and had been reprinted in both1920 and 1923 at least, so it had some claim to fame.
    The author was a Welshman who sailed to America and almost at once fell in with a crowd who introduced him to life on the bum. I regret to report that Mr Davies and his comrades were social parasites: work-shy loafers sponging off the misplaced kindness and generosity of Americans. They had all the soft touches down pat: first a free breakfast from Mrs Jones, then a free lunch from Mrs Brown, followed by a relaxing afternoon before hiking to Mrs White's for a free dinner. The genuine down-and-outers - the involuntary homeless and unemployed - didn't appear on his horizon. No doubt they were busy scrounging for work between meals.