Saturday, May 19, 2012

Philip and Toby Stories: Part 2: Ridin' the Rails

Philip and Toby were my esteemed great-uncles, known in the family for their story-telling and singing. They were young men during the Great Depression. They often took to the road in search of work or adventure ... not so different for those of us teaching English in Georgia today. 

This is one of Toby's adventures. With the exception of minor punctuation revisions, no changes were made to his written narrative.   

Part 2

Go here for Part 1. 

There was a water tank in the town (I don’t remember the name); and wherever there is a water tank in Texas, there is a jungle, hobo jungle that is. A ‘bo always heads for the jungle! This one had stew cooking twenty-four hours a day. You had to contribute something to the stew and you could have all you wanted. Some begged or stole a hen, some potatoes, some canned corn or tomatoes. Me and George brought a large can of tomatoes. A housewife would always give you a half loaf of bread or biscuits left from breakfast. Most of the people I begged from were hungry themselves, but they would always find something, if only a few stale biscuits. They were never too stale to taste good! 

There was a woman in this jungle who looked like she'd seen better days. Some of the 'bos talked ugly to her, but one man kept them from going too far. Most of them ignored the whole thing and George and I did, too. If it came down to a fight, I would have gotten into it, but I didn't want to. She was still there when we left. 

We caught a train for El Paso and were about about two hours when the train went on a side track. While there, I went to a ranch house about two miles away. I didn't care if I missed the train or not. I was so tired and hungry, anything would be an improvement, or so I thought.  

When I got about a quarter of a mile from the ranch building, two dogs, big ones, came out and dared me to take another step.  I turned around and headed back for the train. It was still there, and it was still there three or four hours later.  

Several freights went by, and then a passenger train, then we left once more for El Paso. It was so hot and dry, I thought if I ever got out of the desert, I would never go near it again. 

We stopped many times before we got to El Paso; sometimes in a town; sometimes on a side track with nothing in sight. When in town, we always got something to eat, not much though. When I left home, I was thin, but by this time I was skin and bones.

To be continued ....

Go here for Part 1.
Go here for Part 3.

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