Remember our favourite halloween (or anytime, EVER) costume?
The hobo? Remember?
Dad’s work pants and shirt, a pillow stuffed underneath to look like a chubby tummy, though why a homeless person would be characterized as chubby is a bit odd now, in retrospect. But then so much is. Odd. In retrospect.
Mum’s kerchief bundled with something and tied onto a stick, which I carried over my shoulder.
I loved being a hobo.
But what I’ve learned since then is that I could easily have been taken for a tramp, or even a bum.
The difference, I’ve learned, is that a hobo is constantly on the move, working odd jobs along the way, while a tramp works ONLY when they have to, and a bum doesn’t work at all. The thing that unites them is that they’re all homeless. But the thing that makes them different again is that some of them are okay with that.
Or course as with any groups, no matter how bohemian, there are arguments among them as to which are superior.
The word ‘tramp’ comes from Middle English and means “to walk with heavy footsteps”, while ‘bum’ comes from the German bummeln, meaning to stroll about, doing not much of consequence. A low level kind of strolling.
No one knows for sure where the word ‘hobo’ comes from.
What I’ve discovered since I was that happy hobo for halloween, is that…
a) I continue to have tremendous respect for a certain bohemian way of life, especially one that includes occasionally working for one’s keep, and b) the band Supertramp took its name from the title of a book by William Henry Davies, a Welshman, who wrote The Autobiography of a Super Tramp in 1908.
Davies also wrote a poem called ‘Violet and Oak’, which I found a thousand years ago in an old schoolbook belonging to my sister. It was the first poem that I remember being in love with…. about a violet next to a fallen acorn and how that acorn grows into a tree and remembers “when [it was] weak and small [and its] sweetheart was a little violet in the grass.”
When I was that eight or nine or ten year old hobo I had no idea of any of this.
…here we are.
Isn’t life just the craziest thing?
(oh, and p.s., Past… in 19somethingsomething we SAW Supertramp… remember???)
Other (not always) wordless friends: