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26th Annual Railroad Festival
April 15 - 18, 2004
Frisco Park - Amory, MS 38821
Over 60 of the Hobo Family made their way to Mississippi for the 2004 Hobo
gathering in connection with the 26th Annual Railroad Festival. Most of
the hoboes camped out in the Hobo area of Frisco Park.
In addition to Frisco Park, Ms. Charlotte and Loco Larry's house on 5th
Avenue South serves as a gathering place for many of the Hoboes. Ms.
Charlotte is nothing less than a gracious host for the Hobo contingent,
providing a welcoming meal of BBQ chicken & pork chops on Tuesday evening
April 13, 2004. Several BO's camp out at Larry's, using the Hobo shack and
the grounds throughout the week. Ms. Charlotte seems to take all the
activity in stride, even with numerous guests all over the house and Big Skip
camped out in the kitchen! Ms. Charlotte and the ladies organized the
kitchen food preparation while Hobo Iron Chef Stretch worked the grill for the
Tuesday night feed. Stretch also prepared a delicious stew later in the
week while K-9 Burlington kept Skip and New York Greenie away from the
Wednesday was kind of quiet, except that Lady Nightingale tried to stop a
train or something with her foot. In any event, she ended up with
fractures and for the rest of the week sported a High fashion/High $$$$ BOOT on
BeGone Norm and Sir Rev Bob headed out early to cut some walking
sticks for future sales. It seems that they have a special spot
The Collinwood Kid and Texas Madman rolled in Wednesday night with a ton of
food. Tex was complaining that it took forever to get out of Ohio.
Les has a real knack for rounding up food, and is shown here taking inventory.
The parade crew started to assemble around 3 P.M. and the parade started off
at 4 P.M. with injured Lady Nightingale allowed to ride in Mayor Tom Griffith's
car! Dick Miller drove a convertible with Steamtrain, while Mama JO and
King Spike drove their own golf cart. The rest of the BOs followed along and
threw candy to the kids along the parade route. Road Hog USA set a
ferocious pace along the route and Grandpa Dudley was the only Hobo to pass Road
Hog. Now, I should mention that this is no small feat, as Grandpa is
almost 125 years older than Road Hog, according to Grandpa.
GrainCar George, Big Skip, NY Maggie, Connecticut Shorty, OEL, Mr. Bojangles,
Lady SonShine, Lucky, Sir Rev Bob,
Stretch, Redbird Express, and Oak Tree Joe looked good too. All the BOs made it
to camp on this very HOT day.
Thursday evening started off with the Fire Lighting Ceremony by
Redbird. Mama JO and Spike saluted the Four Winds along with the rest of
the Hoboes. The featured show on the Frisco Park stage was the Little
River Band. This Australian band is nationally known and tours all
year. The locals were out early in the day to "stake out" a
place for their lawn chairs near the bandstand for this free concert. Many
of the Hoboes, including celebrity Hobo Drummer GrainCar George, attended the concert
before adjourning to the Amory Cafe. The Cafe served as the gathering
place for the night as the Hobo musicians performed to a full house also.
Friday, April 16, 2004 started off early at 5 A.M. for many of the Hoboes
with an appearance on WLOV TV 27 with Hostess, Kay Bain. Dick Miller was
featured and Steamtrain Maury was interviewed at length along with Queen Mama JO
and Hobo King Spike. Redbird also appeared on camera with Lady SonShine,
Virginia Slim, and Lady Nightingale singing, while Ohio Tom was heard snoring off key in a
During the day, I noticed a new face in camp and it turned
out to be Alabama Joe from Auburn, AL. Joe goes back a few years and first
went out in 1948. Joe was a friend of Alabama Hobo and Knotman, son of
Alabama Hobo. Red Light Kramer from Huntsville, AL showed up also.
Dick Miller manned the grill on Friday evening and the Hoboes were treated to a
cookout in the jungle alongside the hobo fire.
Hobo dubbings were exacted
upon Mayor Tom Griffith, Dick Miller, and the Amory Chief of Police.
Peterson, aka W2FMX, was dubbed "NY Slow Freight" for chauffeuring
around NY Greenie, aka KA2FTU. Collinwood Kid was dubbed "King of
Dumpster Diving". Les filled up three picnic tables with the food he
"picked" up along the way to Amory. Unanswered question: with
all this food in the vehicle, how did Texas Madman still manage to fit in?
Hobo SLC seemed to
enjoy all of this food and served as a Volunteer Food Advisor to these four young Amory Lads.
SLC's lesson was, "How to eat a Ton of Food and still stay SLIM"! These young guys are good students in
Amory and probably will make their own way in the world in spite of Hobo SLC's
camp fire schooling.
Saturday, April 17, 2004 and the festival was in full swing. This small
town of 7,000 had three times that many people running around. The flea
market was full and the food court offered every kind of dish a person could
want. Each Church Group paid a festival fee of $400 to run their own
booth. After a number of years, these church volunteers have their cooking
methods down to a science and it's all good. During the day, I ran into
Mr. Bojangles and cousin OEL busking down by Bill's Hamburger Shop. Bobby
"Blues" Rutledge from Leland, MS was outside of the Cutlery
Shop. Looked like the boys were doing alright and picking up a few
Over at the Hobo camp, Danville Dan was selling his homemade
walking sticks and doing OK also. Road Hog took time to tell about riding
a caboose from Sioux City to Fort Dodge in Iowa with Conductor Red Johnson a
number of years ago. Conductor Red told Road Hog that only one other
person ever rode in that caboose and that was Iowa Blackie. Small
World. Road Hog then decided to recuperate and relax from trying to keep
up with Grandpa in the parade. Speaking of Grandpa, he had been spreading
it around camp that that he was going to "Climb the Wall" up at the
street fair. This is generally a kid's event and an event for "Manly
Men" that want to show off for their Gal. I guess Grandpa fits into
that category somewhere. At age 174, he still wants to show off for
Mary! Word of this event spreads and a number of hoboes are now at The
Wall to watch Grandpa fall on his .... uhm .... head? Well, he did fall on
his .... You Know .... and then the operator cleared everyone else out of the
area. I guess the operator thought Grandpa might land on top of some poor
soul. Grandpa, after taking off his huge cowboy hat and picking himself up
for the fourth time, did somewhat shimmy up that Wall! Not entirely to the
top, but he did make it a considerable distance, and received a deserving round
of applause from the Hoboes and others.
Afterward, Grandpa told me that he
might build a practice wall in the back yard at home to practice for next year. I asked
MAD Mary if she had some form of Wall Idiot Insurance coverage, but she didn't
think any company would cover him for such nonsense.
Did you know that in
1945 Grandpa was put into the ELECTRIC CHAIR in Lincoln, NE? I guess the
Governor let him off or the chair malfunctioned, but you can ask Grandpa about
it sometime. In case you are unaware, Grandpa does have a mean
streak. Grandpa is shown here attacking Ohio Tom with a crowbar after
arguing over a candy bar.
Saturday brought more visitors to the hobo camp and Mama JO
was busy being Queen, but took time off to have her picture taken with Aaron
from Amory. Collinwood Kid was wandering through camp looking for
a can opener. Can the "King of Dumpster Diving" be allowed to
keep his title and not have a can opener?
Topping off Saturday was a ceremony
to celebrate five wonderful wedded years for Rock Island Red and
Doodlebug. I must say that Doodlebug looked much the blushing bride and
they made a picturesque couple. Virginia Slim and Sunrise serenaded the
Happy Couple on the main stage in Frisco Park. The concert crowd gave a
big hand to the couple and it was a very special night indeed. The
Amory Cafe again hosted the Hoboes for musical entertainment.
Saturday would be my last day in camp as I had to head back to St. Louis
early on Sunday morning, so I wanted to spend some time with my daughter Rebecca
before turning in for the night. I previously asked Train Doc to accompany
Rebecca on her first ride as I figured that Amory was easy enough to catch out,
and that Doc could provide the expertise for the first trip. Becky had
read most of the available tips about riding trains and she was between jobs at
the moment, so I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to gain another life
experience. I spent the evening reviewing all the do's and don'ts with
Becky and assured her that Train Doc had probably been on a train at least once
before today. NY Greenie gave her lessons
about tying up her hair, while
USA and Hobo Spike explained that no road was a bad road. John-John and Lucky
provided support and tips while GrainCar George called her a Sissy LaLa for
worrying about everything. Redbird also provided support while I kept
packing the backpack for my daughter's first ride. Becky had roughed
camped many times throughout the last 10 years, so I really wasn't worried too
much. She didn't have all the right gear for an extended tour, but she had
enough for a couple of rides. I hit the sack in the RatPack Limo while
Becky accompanied Stretch back to the campfire for more advice.
Sunday, April 18, 2004 and I can't believe the week has rushed on past!
It's just daybreak and I kick Rebecca out with her sleeping bag and my backpack,
tell her that Daddy loves her, tell her that she will probably live to see
another day, and tell her to enjoy her life while she still has her youth, and
in good hands with Train Doc. I tell her to eventually try to
make it to Baldwin City as I plan on being there. Otherwise, I tell her to
get the GreyDog back to Florida if she falls off a train, Doc throws her off, or
she otherwise can't make it to Baldwin City, KS. Everyone is still asleep
in the Hobo Camp, so I quietly head out of Amory, MS by myself at 6 A.M.
April 19, 2004
Amory, MS 2004 Hobo Gathering
Good Friends, Good Times, Good Memories
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