Paper: An Analysis of the Ending of World War One and the Shortage of Jobs

Hoboes After World War I, millions of veterans were rushing to get jobs. The war ended so abruptly that the government had to cut more than two billion dollars worth of war contracts. More than ten percent of the American population was unemployed. This sent many people out onto the rails looking for jobs. These people became known as hoboes. Hoboes traveled the country by train looking for work wherever they could. They would stop at houses along the way and exchange work for food and a place to sleep. Most people understood the situation that the hoboes were in and let them sit with them at the table and gave them a place to sleep in the barn. Most of the people were traveling from the east to California by hopping trains throughout the Midwest. They would hop freight trains as they passed by where they were currently stationed. Often hoboes would group together in camps called Dhobo jungles]. Every hobo would contribute to the camp by getting firewood or finding ingredients to the soup. Most major railroad junctions had a hobo camp nearby. The hobo lifestyle had its ups and downs. Being vagrants, they were not welcome in some places. Hazards included railroad “bulls” (police), town police, hostile citizens, bad dogs, and worse. It was not uncommon for railroad police to beat trespassers. In fact, the "bulls" could be very mean in one place, but rather friendly in another. Hobos kept tabs on places and informed others. Along the way, they developed a set of symbols to pass on vital information. This "hobo keyboard" was meant to be marked with charcoal or chalk. The marks would be left on fenceposts, switchmen’s shacks, on the back of roadsigns, and other places. In this way, a hobo could warn his fellows of dangers and tell them of benefits. Symbols are an odd set of marks to most folks, but accurate messengers to those who understand them. The hobo symbols are simple. They depict essentials of a specific lifestyle. Many famous people of the time were once hoboes. There was a very popular recording artist at this time by the name of Jimmie Rodgers, also known as the "Singing Brakeman”. He was an American and worked on the railroad. He composed a lot of railroad songs of which the one called "Hobo Bill's Last Ride" was very popular. Many of Americalls prominent people have come from the hobo ranks; Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Pulitzer Prize Winner James A. Michener, Comedian Red Skelton, and Attorney Melvin Belli. During the Great Depression, more than a quarter of a million people left their homes and hopped freight trains looking for work or adventure. Though few exist today, there are still hoboes out there, riding the same rails as hoboes a century ago. ...