Between the Scissor-Bill and the Hobo.
“What is the reason that we are called Tramps, Hoboes and various other names,” asked a scissor-bill in the Jungles, one day?
“You see it is this way,” answered Brickyard Bill. “They despise us because we wear shabby clothes; we have no Sunday togs to doll up in, and clothes don’t last very long on the road; for when men are forced to flop any old place, while looking for work, in box
cars, barns, under trees and beside campfires, it is impossible to look respectable.
“When we hear of a job, we grab the front end of a blind, the rods of a passenger or a side-door Pullman, and after the trip is over we are dirty from coal-dust and cinders. When we hit a burg, our first aim is to wash up, so that we can duck the Bull. We make for a stream or the ‘jungle’ and when we are cleaned up, we beat it uptown to tell our story to the kind lady, so that we can get a ‘hand-out,’ or an Exhibition meal on the door steps, or else we tell our story to the people ‘on the Stem’, so as to get ‘flop’, money or the price of a meal.
“We try to steer clear of the Bulls, for that means the workhouse or the county roads. We don’t want to be deprived of all liberty. We don’t want that. What we want is work, not workhouses, and when we get a job, we don’t want charity wages’; we want the prevailing rate of wages in that district, and be. cause we are satisfied and accept any old thing to get by, is one reason why we are despised.
“It is funny how some people who call themselves good Christians will tell a down-and-out to go to work at any price.
“Why don’t these good Christians try to have the large cities open up a free laundry so that the unemployed men can keep clean if they can control the fire department, the police department, water works, school houses, parks, etc., they also could open up a free laundry, where men could boil up.
“I understand all that dope,” said Scissor-Bill, “but you haven’t answered my question, ‘What is a Hobo?”
“A Hobo,” replied Brickyard Bill, “is a breathing human protest against our present system of civilization. He is a property-less wage slave now. Do you get me?”
“I get you,” said Scissor-Bill, “but this is the most prosperous country in the world.”
Brickyard Bill smiled and said, “if the byproducts of the most prosperous country in the world are workhouses, State farms and penal institutions, while millions of women and children are in the factories and millions of big, strong men are walking the streets, I want more of it.”
“Say,” said Scissor-Bill, “what do you do for a living and what is your right name?”
BRICKYARD BILL REPLIED, ‘I AM FANNING THE FIAMES, OE TISOONTENT AND MY NAME IS ISCH-CA-BIBBLE. (‘You should worry’).”
J. X. KELLEY.