Confessions of a Twentieth Century Hobo (1924)
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Fri Sep 28 23:35:05 UTC 2001
CONFESSIONS OF A TWENTIETH CENTURY HOBO
Herbert Jenkins, Limited, London
A British man tramps the U. S.
Some of the words, phrases, etc., used in the following narrative will probably be meaningless to the average English reader. For their benefit, I explain a few of those most frequently used.
_Bud, buddy_...Friend, chum, or mate.
_Booked for vag._...Charged with vagabondage.
_Bat out of hell_...A popular hobo expression, meaning a train moving very rapidly.
_Extra, Manifest_...Types of freight trains.
_Bull, dick_...Plain-clothes detectives.
_Chain gang_...Group of convicts.
_Eleven, twenty-nine, twenty-three_...A favourite sentence of some judges, meaning eleven months, twenty-nine days, twenty-three hours. In some states one loses one's citizenship by a year in jail.
_Highball_...The two short, sharp whistles from the engine after the "all clear" has been given--usually a sign that the train is going to pick up speed.
_Hootch, moonshine_...Home-made atrocities for whisky.
_Hit the hay_...Go to bed.
_Jungle up_...Bovouac in the weeds and clean up generally.
_Limey_...The Southern term for a Britisher.
_Lock you up and turn you loose_...It is common for hobos to go to the police or sheriff and ask to be locked up for the night. Usually the officials let them out in the morning, and sometimes give them some breakfast.
_Once over_...To inspect. To look at thoroughly.
_Rattler_...A freight train.
_Reefer_...A refrigerator box car for perishable goods with an ice-box at each end.
_Ride the cushions_...Travel by passenger train in the orthodox manner.
_Rock-pile_...State highways or work.
_Slim_...Tall, thin men are invariably called Slim.
_State License_...State number-plates on cars. Each state has its own coloured plate changed annually.
_Step on her_...A common expression among motorists, meaning to press one's foot on the accelerator.
_Snowbird_...(1) A drug addict. (2) In the Southern States a Northerner who migrates south to avoid the winter.
_The law_...A policeman.
_Two, four, or six bits_...Twenty-five, fifty, and seventy-five cents.
_The makings_...Cigarette-papers and tobacco.
_Tailor-mades_...Ordinary ready-made cigarettes.
"In God we trust,
(A drawing of this sign is on page 61--ed.)
"Great suffering doughnuts!"
(Why do doughnuts suffer so?--ed.)
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