A Hobo, a Tramp, and a Bum



A hobo, a tramp, and a bum walked into a bar…Sorry, that’s as far as the joke goes. There is no punchline. To most of us the three terms are interchangeable. They’re one and the same.

hobos1They’re not. Among many things in life that look similar from afar, there are varying degrees to these wandering men we associate with days long gone.

According to Wikipedia, “A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond—especially one who is penniless. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890. Unlike “tramps“, who work only when they are forced to, and “bums“, who do not work at all, “hobos” are traveling workers.”

Hobos were not uncommon since the turn of the century. With the Great Depression in the early 1930’s, hobos proliferated across the country. While growing up a small child, I enjoyed hearing my Grandpa Jones talk of the days when he ‘rode the rails’ looking for work and eating cold cans of pork and beans.

In Britt, Iowa, there is a Hobo Museum. Check out their webpage here for lots of great photographs, symbols the hobos used, a Hobo Cemetery, and information on this piece of our past. http://www.hobo.com/home.html

These men from long ago even had a Hobo Code. (From their website)

An ethical code was created by Tourist Union #63 during its 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis Missouri. This code was voted upon as a concrete set of laws to govern the Nation-wide Hobo Body; it reads this way:

  1. Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.
  2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  3. Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
  4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
  5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.
  7. When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
  8. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
  9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
  10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
  11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
  12. Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
  13. Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society
  14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  15. Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
  16. If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts.

Now there’s another place on my growing list of places to visit. The Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa. Until then, I’ll just thank my Grandpa Jones for his stories of his hobo travels in the days before he became ‘Daddy’ and ‘Grandpa’.





You don’t have to be a millionaire to collect vintage items. It can be done on the cheap.

Okay, maybe having untold fortunes would make it easier. But where would be the thrill of the chase? Wouldn’t that hinder the delight of finding an affordable treasure?

The price of collectibles has risen over the years – as everything else has. However, there are still vintage items available for less than five or ten dollars.

photo haul from antique storePOSTCARDS: One of my first collections was postcards. I explored antique stores from floor to ceiling, lusting after merchandise I couldn’t afford. I was a young mother of two boys and our young family lived a paycheck to paycheck existence. Almost everything was out of my nonexistent ‘antique’ budget. But postcards, for fifty cents or a dollar – I could afford those. Although they have also increased in price, especially the holiday cards, you can still purchase several for less than $10.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Old photographs are another favorite of mine. Prices vary, depending on the shop, where you’re at, and the condition of the photograph. These are not only memories of people long gone, but you’ll also discover snapshots of life in the past. All for the small price of anywhere from fifty cents to several dollars. Most antique stores have many to choose from. Making your selection will be the hardest part.

SHEET MUSIC: An abundance of vintage sheet music is stacked in antique stores across the nation. Many old pieces sell for less than $5, depending on age, condition, song, artist and artwork gracing the cover. Evenings with the family sitting around the piano went by the wayside after radio and television entered our lives. And now, in our technology age, except for the musicians amongst us, sheet music seems to be a piece of the past.

BUTTONS: Buttons, buttons, who has grandma’s buttons? Searching out old buttons can lead you on an interesting chase. Some of the finer specimens, such as hand painted porcelain or metal military buttons are more expensive. But most have prices on the lower end of the scale. A favorite find from my California hunting days was an old mason jar chock full of old buttons for $10. The ones I’ve found since were in the $20-$25 range. Individual button prices range anywhere from twenty five cents to several dollars.

VINTAGE LINENS: Handkerchiefs and dishtowels are easily found for less than $10. Occasionally you can find a tablecloth or embroidered dresser scarf, although they usually run more. I jumped for joy all the way home one day when I found a hand stitched Scandinavian styled tablecloth for only $10, all because it had a few minor stains on it. Another day, in another shop here in Texas, I spied a set of five embroidered dish towels with the ‘Wash on Monday’ theme, for $10.95. Yes, they live with me now.

Give it a try. Stop by your local antiques and collectibles store this weekend. Browse around. I think you’ll be surprised at what you see that needs a good home – with you. All for an affordable price, much cheaper than you think.

Comments or questions? Email Trisha at vintagedaze@trishafaye.com

— The photo shows my latest treasures from an antique store in Keller, Texas. I got two postcards and four photographs for $12. The postcard with the photo of the four people was $2. The Easter greetings postcard, postmarked 3/24/1921, was fifty cents. Both large photographs, Gladys M. Cleveland of Hamilton Montana and Uncle Richard (age 70) were $3 each. The two smaller photographs were $2 and $1.50.

Influences on Depression Era Quilts

quilt-top-1Many factors influenced the quilts of the Depression and post-depression years.

Stock Market Crash 1929: The stock market crash of 1929 and the economic depression that followed through much of the 1930’s influenced the quilts of the time. The stock market crash, coupled with several years of drought, severe summer temperatures and the dust bowl storms of 1934 made this an era of survival. Families were losing their farms and homes by the thousands, and money was scarce, if available at all.

Worlds Fair Century of Progress: In 1933, this quiltmaking competition at the Chicago World’s Fair offered a grand prize of $1,000, plus $25 for regional winters. This generated interest in quilting, as times were lean and this chance to make money was welcomed.

Weekly Newspaper Columns: Newspapers carried regular columns with quilting patterns. The Kansas City Star began printing quilt patterns in 1926. In May 1933, the popular ‘Nancy Page Quilt Club’, by Florence LaGanke Harris, began a regular Tuesday Quilt Club, which featured pieced and appliquéd patterns to complete an entire quilt.

feed sacksFabrics: The wisdom of the time was “Use up, wear out, make do, or do without.” A scrap bag was common in most households. Salvageable pieces of worn out clothing were used for scraps to mend other clothes or piece into quilts. The fabric sacking used for feed, flour, sugar, seed, meal and salt bags began to be printed fabrics. This fabric was used for clothing, dish towels, diapers, nightgowns, underwear (according to my mother, to her dismay) and quilt pieces. Three feed sacks were needed to make a woman’s dress. Novelty sacks were often printed for dolls or aprons.

Colors: The pastels of the 1920’s began to get brighter and more intense. Dye colors began to get more reliable with newer methods. The number of colors used in prints began to increase. Contrasting color combinations were used more frequently.

  • Nile Green or Mint Green was popular, especially in combination with Rose Pink (presently referred to as Bubble Gum Pink).
  • Pastel blues were not as popular, being replaced by medium and darker blues.
  • Yellows became more golden, especially in combination with brown, along with Lemon & Canary Yellow.
  • Lilacs and lavenders were popular
  • Red/Black/White combinations were popular
  • Red was a clear, bright, chemical red or an imitation of the Turkey Red of the 1800’s.
  • Burgundy as a deep-colored print made a comeback in the late 1930’s.

Prints: Prints became busier with more colors added. Bright colors in contrasting combinations were popular. Prints became larger in scale than the prints of the 1920’s. Black accents began to be used as a design feature in the 1930’s.

Quilting Patterns: The most popular patterns are: Double Wedding Ring, Dresden Plate, Grandmother’s Flower Garden, Fans, Sunbonnet Sues, Yo-Yo’s and Redwork. Embroidery made a come-back. Appliqué with black buttonhole stitching around each piece was distinctive.


LKO COVERCheck out MEMORIES ON MUSLIN – the story of 30 quilt squares from Athelstan, Iowa in 1934.

Available as an electronic PDF file from the author for $3.99.

A print is available from the author for $5.99 plus $3.50 shipping and handling. (Email texastrishafaye@yahoo.com for details)

Available as an ebook at Amazon, for $3.99.