Hobos on the Trains During the Great Depression
Hobos on the trains during the Great Depression There is a man who is tired, hungry, jobless, penniless, homeless and has been “riding the rails” for what seems to be an eternity. The box car is full with many other men, teenage boys and some women riding with him. All of them are there for the same reasons that he is, they are looking for work and a new place to call home. The smell of body odor from being closed in the box car for such a long time with all of these people is overwhelming and makes him sick to his stomach. He wonders if he should get off at the next stop and maybe there will be a job there that he can start his life all over again to support his family that he had to leave behind, or just find one good kind person at a farm house to give him a meal. If he is lucky he might even get a few odd jobs to do, or a hand out of just a few cents to get him by for a few more days. Could you imagine living your life like this every day? This was just some of what a hobo would experience in his/her life in the 1930s. In the 1930’s the Great Depression was at its height, unemployment was very high , people lost their homes, many went hungry, and many thought that the only way to find work was to become a hobo and ride the rails until they found work and a new place to call home. In the 1930’s the unemployment rate had reached its peak and as a result thousands of businesses had either cut their workforce or had gone out of business during the depression. The unemployment rate was about 25 percent and the economy had reached its low by 1933. “The economic recovery during this time was slow, uncertain, and far from being over”(“Compensation from before World War I through the Great Depression.”). Without a job to pay for their homes, millions of people were homeless. Children and teenagers could not even go to school because schools had been forced to close. People had nowhere to go, they started to drift from one town to the next and
“Riding the Rails.” Wessels Living History Farm. 22 January, 2010. .
“Riding the Rails.” Public Broadcasting Service. 1995-2010.
“Compensation from before World War I through the Great Depression.” Bureau of Labor Statistics. 29 April, 2010.
“Sarah White.” In search of the American Hobo. 2001.
“Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression.” The National Heritage Museum. 2000-2010.