"A jar of cider and my pipe, In Summer, under shady tree; A Book by one that made his mind Live by its sweet simplicity: Then must I laugh at kings who sit In richest chambers, signing scrolls; And princes cheered in public ways, And stared at by a thousand fools." . . . . . W. H. Davies A remark elsewhere by a member that a subject in a photo looked like a hobo, renewed my meditation on this class of person. Growing up in a large northeastern city 60+ years ago that was a terminus or through point for many rail lines hobos were a common sight. And as recently as 30 years ago those who chose not to travel by rail were still a common sight on secondary highways hitching each spring and autumn. While for many younger folks the term hobo is synonymous with the term homeless, that conflation is a mistake. While many hobos are homeless, they were not and are not The Homeless as the term has come to be used in describing individuals who are mainly resident in one urban local having reached an unhappy situation entirely through misfortune of various forms, usually involving substance abuse, and/or mental illness. br> And while the hobo can, and sometimes is, a romantic character, I have no illusions that a greater than average portion of hobos share some of those same unhappy characteristics, but it is not universal, and there are important distinctions. The first being that a hobo is by definition transient, and the second being that their state of life is to some degree, at some point, voluntary, and among some, even preferred for reasons as different as the individuals that possess them. Beyond these two characteristics what is or isn't a hobo, bum or tramp and who occupies those categories becomes disputed and largely a product of the individual using the term. That all hobos were degraded, low individuals is a falsehood. For being a hobo was most essentially a way of life, sometimes by necessity and more or less permanently, but for others a passage in life. Among the men and few women who have hobo'ed are included literary figures, and other individuals of renown. Including Jack London, W. H. Davies, Carl Sandburg, Jack Kerouac, Jack Dempsey, Louis L'Amour, George Orwell, Robert Mitchum and Woody Guthrie. But the self-proclaimed King of the Hobos was A-No.1. (AKA, Ray Livingston) A surprising, self-educated man who continued this life through his eventual prosperity. He was fictionalized in the brutal but excellent film Emperor of the North. He created the hobo alphabet, and was likely the only man to ever travel the rails always in possession of two $50 bills, a letter from The President of United States., and an autograph from Teddy Roosevelt.