Monday, August 4, 2008

Real Hobos

Did I mention the hobo festival? Well, we got there. We got to Britt Iowa for the annual hobo festival. The festival doesn't start officially until the 7th, but people arrive early. We located the local hobo home base, aka: The Hobo Jungle. This is a small public park with a pavilion and bathrooms. It's flat and square with only a few trees, but well-kept grass. There is a box car for display purposes, resting on a short chopped-off section of tracks. The park is adjacent to the real railroad.

This town's heritage is hobos. The police turn a blind eye to reasonable action that would usually get you hassled.

When we found the Jungle and parked, we were greeted right away by two people drinking canned beers in koozies. It was two in the afternoon. They greeted us with hugs and gave us the rundown. You can do this, avoid doing that. But mostly: Welcome! I parked my van in a good spot, overlooking the perpetual fire. Some people had tents set up around the park, others were set up to sleep in the box car or on the ground. There were hobos. Real hobos - the kind that ride the rails and get all fucked up all the time. Old hobos who cuss and get real dirty. Friendly people who don't give a fuck about fitting into society. One of the first things I did was take a power swig out of a plastic bag of wine. It was a red box-wine without the box. A dude squeezed the bag and shot wine straight to my gut until I had to move my mouth and get wine all over myself. It was a riot. The flies loved it.

Me and my temporary crew went to the store for a case of communal beer. We sat back at the fire in the company of a dozen or so hobo folks. I didn't talk much, but I listened and talked when talked to. I was happy and comfortable - counting my beer tabs to keep shit from getting too wacky. We ate communal food that was acquired from various dumpsters. These guys were pretty ballsy about the meat they were willing to eat. There were a lot of sunburns and missing teeth. A cop stopped by to chat. Everyone was all fucked up, and that was fine. He declined a beer. A city employee dropped off wood for the fire. They mayor stopped by to shake hands and talk. I'm being literal. The sun went down and I counted seven tabs. The seventh can had a lively bit of whiskey mixed in. I quit. I went to my house and slept. Killer parking spot, right in the grass.

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