File Name: hobo signs and symbols .zip
Joel is a history-loving hobo who travels, usually on foot, across the United States. He is always homeward bound but never quite there yet.
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Joel is a history-loving hobo who travels, usually on foot, across the United States. He is always homeward bound but never quite there yet. In the early 20th century, thousands of individuals roamed from town to town in search of food, work, or simply a change of scenery. The early s were a unique period in U.
Many of those displaced became hobos and embraced a transient existence, moving through society seeking work. As they crisscrossed the country, often following the railways, hobos faced danger, hunger, and illness.
Work was rare and inconsistent, so these travelers most often had to subsist on meager handouts as they moved from place to place. Hobos communicated with one another by carving or drawing symbols on trees, fenceposts, bridges, and even buildings to offer directional guidance to other travelers with warnings of what may or may not lie ahead.
What follows are 60 of the most common hobo symbols along with their translations and interpretations. Most of these are relics from the early 20th century, but some are still used by travelers and trainhoppers today. This illustration depicts a traveler reading markings scrawled by a fellow hobo who had passed through the same area previously.
Get bread here: Hobos became very good misers, and most learned to make much out of little. Even less-fortunate of homes could sometimes spare a slice of stale bread or a leftover roll. If a bread symbol could be found, there was a chance of a simple meal and a full belly. Doctor lives here: Life on the road and on the rails was hard and brutal. Get cursed out here: Hobos were regarded in some towns as human trash, and certain folks took pleasure in verbally demeaning and insulting any hobo who happened by their way.
In areas like this, the law would take measures against any hobo who retaliated in any way. Wet town; alcohol here: The symbol of an open mug meant that this town serves alcohol. Go around this town: If a hobo had an unpleasant experience in a town, they communicated it with this symbol.
Those who came across it were advised to take the long way around to avoid trouble. Go this way: This was a common directional sign that indicated the right direction to go when faced with a crossroads or intersection. By heading in the direction indicated by the line, other hobos could save time and avoid danger.
Dogs in garden: Dogs were often staked or left free to roam within the boundaries of garden plots to keep would-be robbers from plucking vegetables.
Judge lives here: Disturbing the home of a judge or other agent of the law was a good way to get thrown in jail quickly. Kind gentleman lives here: A top hat represented a kind or rich gentleman, and a triangle represented a home. Together, they indicated that this was the house of a kind or rich gentleman or family. I went this way: If two hobos agreed to meet up down the road, whoever got to a landmark or structure first would leave an arrow symbol along with their moniker road name to let their pal know that they would be waiting in the next closest town.
Jail is okay: As a hobo, sooner or later, going to jail was inevitable. Sometimes, it was a survival tactic to get a meal or avoid approaching danger.
The trick was to find a jail that was clean and not dangerous and then get arrested. Table feed: Feeds were far and few between—at least feeds that were specifically for hobos. There were, however, functions that would tolerate hobos attending, such as church gatherings. When an event like this was discovered, a hobo might let others know using the table feed sign. Get out of town quick: Only enter this town if you have to. Get your business done and get out as quickly as possible. This code warned of possible conflict and was a message to keep your head down, try not to be obvious, and keep to yourself as you pass through.
Railroad men look the other way: Rail workers and railroad police could be some of the cruelest and roughest of the people hobos would run into. Owner is out: This symbol could apply to a home or a business where the owner was not present for long periods of time. This symbol turned in the opposite direction meant that the owner or occupant more than likely was present.
Waste disposal into streams and other bodies of water was often poorly regulated, and this symbol gave warning to all that the water was likely not sanitary. Money for work here: This is a good place to work for money. Hobo jobs generally consisted of hard work with low pay, but there were opportunities that sometimes allowed a strong, steady hobo some longer-term security.
This symbol could also indicate the availability of migratory farm-work jobs. Chain gang: In locations where the jail was connected to a chain-gang work scheme, a hobo who saw this symbol would move away as quickly as possible to avoid being roped into a position on an unpaid work crew. Easy marks: This symbol boasted of the ease of gleaning money or food from a town or group of individuals. I ate: This was good news for a hobo entering an unfamiliar town.
This symbol encouraged hobos who followed by letting them know that their next meal may be close. Hobos frequently traveled great distances only inches from danger. Public Domian, Source Unknown. This symbol provided a clue to the hot spots. Work for money was always welcome when a hobo was trying to break free, even temporarily, from the transient lifestyle. Crime happened here: Hobos were a superstitious bunch.
A code such as this was scrawled where a major crime was committed. It warned that this area could be a dangerous place. Help if you are hurt: Minor injuries or sickness could lead to major setbacks for hobos. It was good to know where it was safe to seek help when it was needed. Cowards; will pay to get rid of you: Hobos had a tendency to cause fear in some households or towns that had little or no protection. Residents would gladly offer food or money rather than deal with confrontations with hobos.
Nothing happening here: This was a general statement that the approaching community had very little in the way or resources. It was better to walk through and continue on in search of a better place.
Good place to catch train: Hobos' travels quite frequently revolved around the rails. Good place to sleep: This sign guided the weary hobo to shelter that provided an element of protection or warmth.
Barns, bridges, and abandoned buildings were prime camping spots. Keep quiet; baby here: One thing that most hobos agreed upon was that it was important to protect and respect young families. This symbol would remind hobos of their code and instruct those who saw it to be quiet and not to disturb folks. Policeman lives here: This sign saved many hobos from making the mistake of knocking on the door of a policeman or law officer and getting thrown in jail—or worse—a chain-gang work crew.
Joe is waiting in town: If two hobos agreed to meet up further down the road, the one who got there first would leave a message that showed their moniker road name and indicated that they would be waiting in the next closest town. Fake illness here: Faking an illness or injury could get a hobo a meal, a place to rest, or even money depending on how well they could act. A hobo that feigned a nasty cough, for instance, might end up with some money to encourage them to leave the area.
Hold your tongue: In some towns, hobos would generally be ignored unless they brought notice to themselves by verbally responding to rude comments. If you came across this sign, it let you know that you were better off not engaging in conversations.
Stay quiet: Move quietly and keep your head down. Walk in the shadows as much as possible and do not disturb any livestock or animals that might announce your presence. This symbol advised caution. Good road to follow: When leaving the path of the rails, a symbol like this could save a hobo unnecessary and unproductive exploration by letting them know that a road or trail was a good choice and presented opportunity.
There were times, however, that knocking on the door of a policewoman would end up backfiring. It was important to stay away from homes around signs that indicated the presence of any law official. Telephone here: As rare as they were, if an event occurred that required calling home or phoning someone about an opportunity, it was good to know where a telephone could be located.
Dry town: This symbol took the shape of an upside-down cup and let travelers know that this town did not sell or allow alcohol. Don't try to buy it, and don't display it if you have it. Police will lock you up: This sign told hobos to steer clear. For no reason at all, police would arrest you and put you in jail to either keep favor with townspeople or to add you to their own private free-labor workforce. Church or religious people: This symbol could be both good and bad.
Food or shelter offered by a compassionate group of religious people would be a welcome find even if it meant being subjected to a harsh sermon. On the other hand, some strict and pious congregations viewed hobos as products of sin and didn't treat them as kindly. This Atlanta statue depicting a man with a bedroll feeding a pigeon pays homage to the hobos of the early 20th century.
Dangerous man lives here: Hobos avoided conflict as much as possible. This symbol served as a warning to avoid a home known for criminal or violent behavior. Police would not typically assist a hobo in the event of a confrontation.
Authorities are alert: Police and political figures in some towns tried to keep their areas hobo-free and were constantly on the lookout. A hobo who was fortunate enough to spot this symbol could save themself a lot of trouble. Poor people live here: This symbol earned a town a level of respect from hobos. They more than anyone else understood the hardships of life and would not bother people they knew to be struggling. Dangerous place: This sign was a severe warning to stay away at all costs.
To proceed further would be to risk bodily harm or worse. Move on quickly. Workhouse jail: This sign warned visitors to do their business and leave as quickly as possible. If your timing was bad, you could easily be locked up only to find yourself working long, hard hours digging ditches with no pay and no release date.
Get snagged in one of these situations, and you'd better plan your escape from the beginning.
Quick links. Discussions include how to prepare yourself, your family and your community for catastrophes and what you plan to do when they hit you. I plan on using these with my group and think it could be helpful if other ZS members out there were familiar with them as well. Feel free to print them out. I even created a PDF that has four copies on a standard sheet of paper so you can easily print and laminate it and give it out to all your mates. Last edited by SouthernZombie on Thu Jun 16, pm, edited 2 times in total.
Joel is a history-loving hobo who travels, usually on foot, across the United States. He is always homeward bound but never quite there yet. In the early 20th century, thousands of individuals roamed from town to town in search of food, work, or simply a change of scenery. The early s were a unique period in U. Many of those displaced became hobos and embraced a transient existence, moving through society seeking work. As they crisscrossed the country, often following the railways, hobos faced danger, hunger, and illness. Work was rare and inconsistent, so these travelers most often had to subsist on meager handouts as they moved from place to place.
Hobos developed a system of symbols and signs they'd write with chalk or coal to give fellow “Knights of the Road” directions, help, and.
A hobo is a migrant worker or homeless vagrant , especially one who is impoverished. The term originated in the Western —probably Northwestern — United States around The origin of the term is unknown. According to etymologist Anatoly Liberman , the only certain detail about its origin is the word was first noticed in American English circa
Hoboes used signs, codes if you will to communicate with other hoboes arriving after them conveying the conditions of the town, the people and the availability of work, food and lodging. The only way of passing knowledge of these signs between hoboes was word of mouth. So many signs were altered just due to the loss of detail in the communication of the signs and symbols. Cryptic signs have been around forever. Hobo signs have been around since the fourteenth century in European nations and the 's in America.
This review addresses these shortcomings. Safety signs and symbols are important safety communicating tools, they help to indicate various hazards that present in plant site or workplace. Workplace Safety Signs or Industrial Warning Signs address a variety of problems by informing workers and visitors of potential dangers.
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