The Great Depression was a very difficult time in American history. The Great Depression was the longest and most severe depression that was experienced in the Western World. The movie Riding the Rails is a good example of times during this depression. The movie presents a story of ten men and women in their youth, who gave their accounts about leaving their homes in search of a better life. I think Riding the Rails gives a very clear and accurate view of how life was for young teenagers during these historical times. During the 1930’s at the time of desperation and hardship people were affected by economic conditions that were beyond their control. These conditions brought about hunger, loss of homes, and lack of jobs. At the height of The Great Depression there were more than 250, 000 teenagers living on the road in America (Uys.,Lovell., 2005). Riding the Rails vividly shares the lives and the experiences of then youths who rode the rails or trains, as teenagers. Some left home to escape poverty or troubled families and others left because it seemed like it would be a great adventure. Teenagers who were new to the rails had high hopes of where their journeys would take them. The movie describes these teenagers searching for a better life and their secrets for survival. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word ‘hobo’ as “one who wonders from place to place without a permanent home or a means of livelihood.” (Haughton Miffin Company). Historically, many people have been forced into becoming hobos or people who traveled around, because of jobs being scarce. They had no choice but to travel from place to place in search of work to survive. Hobos are often associated with train hopping, because that’s what many did during The Great Depression. Most hobos would hide among the tracks outside of the yard. Then they would run along the train, grab a hold and jump into the open boxcars. Once on the boxcar many teens headed to...
References: Haughton Miffin Company., (June, 2001). The American History Dictionary, fourth
edition. Dell Publishing.
Mcelvaine, R., (Dec, 1993). The Great Depression: America 1929-1941. Three Rivers
Press Publishing. Pp. 30-100.
Uys, M., Lovell, L., (2005). Riding the Rails. WGBH Educational Foundation.
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