Railroad Stories: Hobos Rode the Rails

Many years ago, hobos rode the rails looking for work.


| Good Old Days


During the Depression days, and for 30 years, my father was a telegraph operator for the Chicago and North Western Railway, in an office called, "Tower I," in Missouri Valley, Iowa. He was a kind-hearted man, and many men, called hobos, rode the rails in boxcars looking for work.

The hobos would stop in at the tower to get warm by the fire, in winter, or to ask where they could get something to eat. A lot of times, if he thought they were good men, Daddy would send them the three blocks to our house, where Mom would feed them. They were all well-mannered, and appreciative of the kindness and hospitality.

One afternoon, my father sent a man to our house for something to eat, and I was so happy! He looked just like Santa Claus. He had a long, white beard, and he was plump.

When I saw him, I said, "Santa! What are you doing down here at our house, you're supposed to be at the North Pole!"



He laughed and told me he just thought he'd drop in to see me and my brother.

Mom gave him a good lunch and he left.







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