One More Train to Ride: The Underground World of Modern American Hoboes
Cliff Williams (Oats)
Indiana University Press, 2003, 163 pages
Life stories, poems, songs, and drawings by current and recent hoboes
"Something in us wants to hike away from all these enormously complicated arrangements
and head for the west side of town and hop an empty boxcar heading for the coast. One
More Train to Ride is a memorial to that urge to roam free and to the men and women
who’ve made that hike and taken the ride. It’s elegant and satisfying, and there’s one more
reason not to take the ride: hoboes tend not to have extensive libraries. Stay home and
read this book about the noble hobo." – Garrison Keillor, Prairie Home Companion
"One More Train to Ride is a riveting tale of the American hobo of today, drawn from
intimate interviews with fourteen contemporary ‘knights of the road.’ The experiences
of these men and women touch the very core of American freedom and individualism.
Williams does a splendid job of capturing the words and tone of his subjects, providing
a wonderful and often moving insight into the daily life and philosophy of the modern
hobo." – Errol Lincoln Uys, author of Riding the Rails
"One More Train to Ride is by turns moving, saddening, and inspiring." – Craig Clarke,
Foreword by Gypsy Moon
"Catchin’ Out for Freedom" Guitar Whitey
The Texas Madman
What Is a Hobo?
"One More Train to Ride" Hobo Liberty Justice
New York Slim
What Is It Like to Be on a Moving Freight Train?
Catching a Moving Boxcar
"The Hobo’s Heart" Virginia Slim
Waiting for a Train
"A Woman on the Go" Cinderbox Cindy
Philosophy of Hoboing
"Clearing the Yard" Bo Britt Eddie
"Shanty by the Main" Iowa Blackie
Drawing by Shortstop
In the Jungle
"Sitting Around Our Little Fires" Oklahoma Slim
A Hobo Story
"The Hobo and His Bedroll" Bo Britt Eddie
"Making a Nighttime Run" The Texas Madman
New York Grizzly
"There’s a Little Bit of Tex in Me" Hood River Blackie
Roll Call of the Departed
"A Hobo’s Remembrance" Luther the Jet
"Softly by Tracks" Buzz Potter
Death and Injury on the Rails
"The Road to Nowhere" Dr. Poet
"Hobo’s Lament" Virginia Slim
"A Bindle Stiff’s Last Ride" Drummond Mansfield
Drawing by Drummond Mansfield
From the Foreword by Gypsy Moon
"The ‘boes who have contributed to this collection have entrusted Oats with their precious
memoirs and their most personal work. And he has, in turn, listened with a sensitive ear
and an insightful heart, compiling a revealing book that speaks poignantly about their
desire for freedom and about the risks, consequences, joys, and hardships that they
endure along the way. "If you have ever felt a spark of wanderlust in your heart, accept
the invitation: Pull up a log, turn the page, and let the fire of the hobo community shine
on your face."
Frog: "I got itchy feet. What keeps me going is the wanderlust."
New York Slim: "One of the reasons that most people ride trains, why most people
hobo, is because they don’t fit in. I found the only place in my life that I ever fit is out here."
Dante Fuchwa: "There’s nothing out there that I want to do more than riding. That is
the utmost freedom."
Shayla: "You get so sheltered when you stay in one place. . . . I want to live my life to
New York Grizzly: "I don’t know what drives me. I have to keep moving. I feel
compelled to do that, and I don’t know why."
Excerpt from "Softly by Tracks" by Buzz Potter
The train passes by and there’s mist in my eye
And it’s not from the soft falling rain
And I know I’ll be back to this place by the track
To watch freedom go by on the train
History of the book
Cliff Williams attended the annual National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa, for nearly twenty years, beginning in 1990. When word got out among the hoboes that he was a college professor, Steamtrain Maury Graham, a patriarch of hobo culture, asked him if he would publish a booklet of hobo poetry. He agreed, founding The Hobo Press and publishing Around the Jungle Fire I in 1994 and Around the Jungle Fire II in 1997. Around the Jungle Fire III, which was published in 2000, contained life-stories of six current hoboes. One More Train to Ride contains material from these three booklets. Copies of the first booklet are still available—click here.
Websites with links to other hobo websites
Other books on hoboes
Ted Conover, Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America’s Hoboes (Vintage Books, 1981)
Eddy Joe Cotton, Hobo: A Young Man’s Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America (Harmony Books, 2002)
Duffy Littlejohn, Lonesome Whistle (Zephyr Rhoades Press, 2002)
Gypsy Moon, Done and Been: Steel Rail Chronicles of American Hobos (Indiana University Press, 1996)
Errol Lincoln Uys, Riding the Rails: Teenagers on the Move During the Great Depression (TV Books, 1999)
Guitar Whitey, Ridin’ Free (Zephyr Rhoades Press, 2002)
Radio interview with Cliff Williams
Hobo Convention Songs
At hobo conventions, hoboes tell stories of their travels, talk, and sing. Here are the
words to two songs from 1900 and 1921.
About the author
Cliff Williams (Oats) taught philosophy for fifty years, including at Wheaton College in
Wheaton, Illinois, from 2013-2018, and at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, from
1982 to 2013. He has published a number of articles and book reviews in professional
journals, plus other books.
Contact information: cliffwilliams30 at gmail dot com
© 2012 Cliff Williams