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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
















I always start my day
with the obituaries. It's not because I'm morbid or I'm looking for my friends or to see if I've died. It's actually because the obituaries are so full of life, full of wonderful stories.

Yesterday, the King of the Hobos passed away. This thrilled me no end. Not that the King of the Hobos died, but the chance to explore why I feel guilty for getting such a bang out of hobos.

Nuns are all about discipline and rules. Hobos break all of society's rules AND they hop on trains and ride for free. That's stealing. Hobos are antithetical to nuns. Of course we love all our fellow men, but I feel I should be bugged by hobos. They seem like people I should be praying for to reform their wicked ways.

But with names like Scoop Shovel Scotty, Slow Motion Shorty, and Skeet Simmons....

"Dear Lord, I pray for your servant, Scoop Shovel..." I'm smiling already.


Hopping trains can't be a very big sin, as we don't care too much about property unless it's on a grand scale. Think Ken Lay. And even then... you can't take it with you. Still, all those mooched lifts add up to quite a pile of obviously unrepentant sin. But it's all so romantic.

The hobos themselves are very careful to make the distinction that they are not tramps and bums. During his life the King of the Hobos explained that he rode the rails and "worked to support" his "hobo lifestyle." He mused that it was like going on a camping trip and never returning. He said that hobos, who are not bums or tramps (because they work for a living just like everyone else, except not at all like everyone else), have to know how to live off the land, know what's poisonous, know how to catch game without weapons. In recent years a hobo had to "practically be a pharmacist" since the trains had so many terrible bio-hazards on them. You can't hop a toxic train.

Nobody knows where the word "hobo" comes from. Sister St. Aloysius thinks it's from the word "Bohemian", but that can't be right. Then they'd be "bohos". Maybe I wouldn't like them so much if they were called bohos. Hobo even sounds like fun. Heartwarming, non-sinful fun.

What is more heartwarming than a bearded toothless hobo, saying, "Thank ye, ma'am" for the meal you made him after he fixed the garage door opener? So American.....unless the hobo was in Romania. I guess then he'd be King of the Gypsies. And he'd play a violin instead of that twangey thing you hold in your teeth. And his bandana would be on his head instead of holding his belongings. And he really would be a boho.

The hobos, minus all the train sinning, remind me of Jesus and the apostles and the saints, going from town to town, only the apostles and the saints really did beg. The King of the Hobos would call them bums, at least according to the hobo creed. We have to point out to the King of the Hobos ( if he wasn't dead) that the Christ the King brought people back from the dead, healed the sick, changed water into wine, and fed the masses. Exhausting. I'd like to see the King of the Hobos manage that. The King of the Hobos was a brick layer when he wasn't sinning on the rails.

I think deep down I know that the true sin of the hobo is the gigantic selfishness. Sure a hobo isn't hurting anyone. But he's sure not helping anyone either, except for fixing the garage door opener. You'd have to have an enormous amount of energy to live as a hobo, but all that energy is only for yourself. What a waste of industriousness.

But so colorful.

10 comments:

DS said...

very well put sister. Happy Thanksgiving

ET said...

Sister,
I hope you and your sisters have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Alexa said...

Boho! You didn't answer my two questions! :(

Happy Thanksgiving anyhoo!

Potamiaena said...

Bohemians? If the word descends from Bohemian, wouldn't they be called "bohees" and not hobos? Wait, would that be "heebos" and not hobos. I'm confused.

Seems they have a reality problem much like OJ Simpson.

Hobos don't get obituaries in our newspaper. Only in CA!

O=onionboy.ca+luminousmiseries.ca said...

I always start my day with the Liturgy of the Hours but what do I know?

Hobos do not come from Hoboken though and descend directly from Adam's second cousin on his mother's side...er, or maybe I've confused that with someone else.

"Hello Boy"...a common greeting as they rode the rails was contracted to "HoBo" and unlike the men who bear the name, it stuck.

One of the things hobos bring from God is great faces to draw. They also challenge our own ideas of how gracious, unselfish and non judgmental we think we are.

Monica said...

It reminds me of the poem 'The Raggedy Man' that my mother used to read to me.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Mr. Luminous, those are just theories as to where the name hobo originated. There is also a theory, my favorite, that the name came from something the railroad men would yell when they chucked a mail bag off a train.

The hobos claim to have chosen the name for themselves but declined to tell us why they picked it.

Just as I decline to answer personal questions. Mostly.

Sister Mary Martha said...

P.S. I should have said "I start my newspaper" with the obits. Some people start with the sports pages or the funnies.

Today's sports page, with the brutality of the Spurs against the Heat, might be too sad to read.

The unconventional mother said...

Interesting commentary on hobos. I would assume that a hobo chooses to be a hobo, a bum chooses to be a bum and a "homeless person" is one who has not chosen to be homeless.

Anonymous said...

My family knew Scoop Shovel Scotty and I have some good stories. Anyone want to swap stories email me at rdcassiday@yahoo.com.

Bob Cassiday