Tales From the Road

After landing in Bedford, PA and being introduced to the rest of the crew, the time has come to finally open the show to the public and learn first hand how a grind show operates.

July 24, 2005 – Debut Show: Bedford, PA

Following the usual morning relaxation period, it was right to work moving the stage we had assembled the other day, relocating it outside for the bally.  There is a bigger and subsequently taller stage, which had to be taken inside for us to perform on.  Then the props were moved inside and the banners were unloaded.  Had the privilege of hanging them up with the Manager, while Ma [the boss’s wife] taught me the proper way to hoist them and tie down the ropes so the banners would not fall should a strong wind come by.  It was a bit awkward at first, but I got the hang of it by the third banner and making slipknots is already becoming second nature.  A small complication arose in the form of not having ties for some of the banners, missing pullies and ropes.  Once that was sorted, I thought the rest of the job would go smoothly, but then the Manager accidentally cut himself with some scissors.  Brett and Elvis were sent to assist me with the remaining banners, and the line appeared fairly even for my first time doing something like this.  The teaser, which is a banner that is stretched across the front of the tent so people who walk by can’t see in, had to be hung from the tent itself, and all free hands were on that.

It was rather annoying that the curious people walking by kept asking when we would be open.  The Boss explained that the girls were having their showers and suggested they should come back later.  Definitely admired how he handled the situation with true showmanship and feel I will be learning a lot from him.

Had been applying makeup whenever I had a spare moment, and was then told to do whatever I needed in order to be ready for the first show that evening.

Here I will state that I noticed the Deadhead girl did absolutely no work whatsoever.  She walked around in the outfit the Manager bought because she did not like the costumes that were available, doing nothing more than walking her dog or carrying a beverage.  Now I see this as being a little unfair because the rest of us are sweating in order to get everything done.  We all get compensated for our services, and while I know that she receives a smaller salary than the rest of us, it would not hurt for her to pitch in.  This sort of behavior will certainly be noticed, both by those of us pulling our weight as well as the eyes that constantly make sure we are doing so.

Show time was very unorganized, as none were certain who was supposed to go on first and how we would rotate.  The schedule was hectic as I was going up and down on the main stage, then out to the bally stage.  The crowds were not that enthused, though we tried our best to get them involved.  Most of the response was pretty weak, but some grossed-out reactions were all I needed to hear to know that at least they were paying attention.  It is somewhat disheartening to see how many people stop on the midway for the bally versus the amount that actually filter in, but is was opening night and all.

Managed to get glass stuck in my foot twice and had to stop jumping into it after that.  Lifting five pounds with my ears seemed to go over well, as did the Bed of Nails, though I need to expand the patter so that the set is not as short.  Would also like to add a couple of acts, and perhaps get in the Blow-Off doing the Insectivore to make some extra scratch until we can figure out some dings.

The night was over before I knew it, and even though we were tired and hungry, the crew stuck around to hear what the Boss thought.  All suggestions were taken seriously, and to my relief there really was not much criticism.  Considering this was the first time any of were doing something like this, it went fairly well.  The more we do it, the more natural it will become, and pretty soon we won’t even think about what we are doing.

My stomach had been empty all day, so I headed out to town and went to a diner just like I would back home.  This one was fairly large and really nice, complete with rolling chairs.  Ate until I was full and returned with a few leftovers, relieved to get some sleep.  A storm rolled in some time during the early morning hours, quite loud and very fierce, but it helped cool things down a bit, even if it is still humid.

July 28, 2005 – Strange Dreams

There were definitely some weird images in my head last night, but once scene in particular that I can recall with clarity.  Not sure where I was, but two people I know were chatting with Jon.  Now that I sit here and recall the dream, I believe they had come to see me perform or something like that.  At first glance, my dream mind had mistaken Jon for Brian Setzer.  It must have been the flashy outfit that consisted of tight red leather pants, black shirt half unbuttoned, blue snakeskin boots and tons silver jewelry.  The last time we saw each other, he had just gotten his hair cut for Summer and shaved his face clean.  However, in the dream, his dirty blonde locks were tamed into a stellar pompadour, accented by perfectly trimmed chops.

Next thing I know, the two of us are climbing into his Mercury.  Being tired, I ask him to “turn the colors off” [whatever that means].  Jon pushes a button on the dashboard, and then we are driving through a landscape that could be right out of Sin City, the sky red and black above.

This is what I get for eating  around midnight before heading to bed.  It is a bit ironic that the dream included the one person I had wanted to see before I left New Jersey.  There is a good reason I did not have the opportunity to, but someone should tell my subconscious that.  Wonder what other odd dreams I can come up with.


July 29, 2005 – Week In Revue

Anyone who is blissfully ignorant to believe that show business [no matter what field] is some sort of glamorous fairy tale would have a rude awakening if they were here right now.  Being up on stage in front of a gaping crowd is certainly a great rush, fantastic beyond description and exactly the reason I wanted to do this.  However, as it has already been documented, there is a lot of physical labor involved that people who are enamored by circus or sideshow do not see or even think about.

When the weather was bad earlier this week, we had to grind out our shows in order to get as many paying customers as possible to come in.  The constant demand for performance is rough, but that does not stop me from having a wide smile and doing what I do best.  Have learned a great deal so far, including how to tie down a tent in preparation for inclement weather, even if it did only rain for about ten minutes or less.

Of course no Family is complete without drama or bullshit, though I tend to stay far away from both as best I can.  Though I do voice my opinion at appropriate moments, particularly when the Boss asks for it.  He is wise to everything, the type of man who can smell bullshit from a mile away and before it even hits the ground.  He is highly intelligent with a killer witty attitude, and to me that is what makes him so great.  While he is willing to give anyone a  fair chance, he also does not hesitate to put them in their place should they try to pull a fast one.  As the saying goes, you cannot bullshit a bullshitter.

An example of that is Elvis being excused from the outfit.  Kind of a shame since he was a decent worker, and the first person I met out here who could actually speak Carny.  He even helped Spirit [this goat that refused to use its front legs] to stand up without falling over.  However, he tried to feed the Boss some story about being offered a job by his grandfather.  The Boss does not appreciate being lied to and had facts that confirmed the story was just made up, so he told Elvis it would be best for him to move along.

Yesterday, Little Miss Priss  – the Deadhead chick that does not want to help with any of the physical work, yet wants attention for being up on the bally stage and in the electric chair  –  put up a big stink about her wardrobe.  She had left the clothes our Manager bought in the bathroom and apparently someone stole it.  The Boss gave her a few other costumes to try on, and she wound up in a blue bathing suit with white sequined stripes.  Not even halfway into the show, she got off stage, changed and left for the night.  Well, the rest of us had to pick up her slack, which meant assuming her duties on the bally stage and in the Blow-Off.

Somehow I am chosen to sit in the electric chair and definitely got shocked on my ass, so I really don’t want to have to do it again.  Her beef was composed of the claim that her [quite small] boobs were popping out, and guys were pointing and laughing because her cooch was showing.  She even tried to use the old “I have my period” excuse.  The Boss was not pleased, having some words for her and the boyfriend.

Today she is in a neon orange bikini [a thong no less], with a black shawl tied around her waist.  So far there are no complaints and I suspect that she was just trying to get more free clothes because she was unhappy with the previous selection of a pink leopard print shirt, pink shorts and black fishnets.  That was too revealing but a thong bikini is totally fine?  Oh, and apparently she has completely forgotten about having her period.

On a more humorous note, when inquiry was posed as to why she did not help set up [or assist with any manual labor at all], she claimed both the Boss and Manager said she did not have to.  Sure, that is why two nights ago the Manager remarked that he should not allow her to leave right after the show is finished, because she can assist us in lowering the banners at night.  The Boss also mentioned earlier that Miss Priss, her boyfriend and the brother would be useful in tearing down, so I am pretty sure he did not tell her she could skip doing such work.  It amuses me when people convince themselves that they can lie and no one will know.

Last night the Boss came over while I was dining on a bowl of Coco Pebbles and bestowed me with a great compliment: “I just wanted to tell you that out of all the people here, you’re the only one[ with your shit together.”  It was something I appreciated very much, as I am here to perform and get a lasting experience out of everything.  People can point, laugh and say whatever stupid shit they want, because I will be making a profit off them in the end.

There has been other things going on as well, but would rather not go into much detail about it.  Though I will say that the crew was concerned when our fearless leader — the Manager that is — was taken to the hospital early this morning.  The stress must have gotten to him, but the good news is that he is doing well and will return in a few days.

The rest of us are pretty much running the show at the moment, minus the Blow-Off.  Sold a few pieces of jewelry here and there to pull in some scratch for myself.  So far the only money I have spent was on food, gas and washing clothes at the laundromat.  We are allowed to ask for a cash advance on our salary if needed, since we will not get paid until Tuesday.  Seems like a long time to wait but there is nothing I really need at the moment so I don’t mind.

Right now the pitch on the bally stage is bombing because the Manager is not doing it.  People are finding it difficult to deliver a good one to gather a large tip, but we are doing our best.  Later on, I might practice sword swallowing because it would be awesome to add in the show.

Have to go to work now.

Living On a Diet of Steel

Out of all the sideshow acts that exist, I consider sword swallowing to be one of of the deadliest, as there is certainly a great risk taken every time that steel blade enters the body. The practice dates back thousands of years to origins in India, where Fakirs and Shaman priests used it as a demonstration of their power to be invulnerable, and a means connection to their gods. There is a great hall of fame list that has more details of this ancient art, which I am sure some might find to be quite surprising. People constantly ask me exactly what inspired me to want to learn how to do this, so I thought that I would take the opportunity to finally divulge that information.

The first time I ever saw someone down a sword was at Coney Island, and of course I was instantly intrigued. While I could wrap my head around most of the other acts, there was something undeniably sensual about sword swallowing. Understanding that there was no trick to the feat, my curiosity of how one was able to accomplish it grew each time I returned to Sideshows By the Seashore and watched Tyler Fyre stick that blade into his throat.  In 2002, I had the opportunity to attend the Coney Island Sideshow School and finally learn the secret behind sword swallowing, which I am not going to share. What I will say, however, is that practicing with a wire coat hanger was one of the most unpleasant things I have experienced, but I was certainly determined to emulate the act that had caught my attention.

There are a few gag reflexes one must over come in order to safely pass an object into the throat, down the esophagus, where it will rest somewhere in the depths of the stomach. Doing this right results in an overwhelming amount of applause from an audience. Doing this wrong can [and has] lead to serious injury, or even death. This is due to the fact that the object is passing several vital organs, including the heart and lungs. Suffice to say that ones life is literally on the line each time the act is performed. It took about a month of practice with the wire coat hanger to get it all the way into my stomach, and I must say that it was certainly a proud moment.

However, I could not legitimately call myself a sword swallower and present the act with this crude implement. So it was that I abandoned the practice, though I did purchase a sword in 2005 at an indoor flea market in New Jersey. A fellow performer suggested that I make some changes to it in order for it to be presentable on stage. For whatever reason, I was slightly nervous about actually making an attempt to swallow the sword, and so it sat in storage for a couple more years. The motivation to return to practice came from continuing to watch others flawlessly perform the act, because I knew I had the ability to do the same if I tried hard enough.

Swallowing 18 1/2 inches of solid steel in the wasteland of West Philly.

In 2006, while living in West Philadelphia, I was struck with the inspiration to attempt swallowing the sword. At that time I was friends with Barry Silver [notable master magician and fellow sideshow performer] who had learned several skills from the legendary Red Stuart. It was with their assistance that I worked up the courage to finally stick that sword in my throat. After about half an hour of practice, for the first time ever, I felt the steel blade slip down into my stomach. That swell of pride returned, only this time, I had truly become a sword swallower. Barry was the first person I called to share the good news with, and I wound up replicating the feat for him and a few other friends later that day.

Four years later, and I am still happily performing the act for a wide variety of audiences. Much inspiration has been drawn from Red Stuart, who is the world’s oldest living sword swallower, and also holds several Guinness Book World Records. It is said that he has swallowed over 50 sword simultaneously, and I have personally seen him down broad swords and even a Ford model A car axle at the Palace of Wonders. Truly he deserves much recognition, and I can only hope to achieve even a fraction of his greatness.

Photo courtesy of http://www.swordswallow.com

While researching sword swallowing history, I cam across this most amazing woman, Edith Clifford. She began performing the act at the tender age of thirteen, and became famous for swallowing razor blades, scissors, saw blades and bayonets. Personally, I would also like to note that she has held the record for most swords swallowed by a female for over one hundred years. That number is 24, and as far as I know, the current record is only half that amount. While this is certainly impressive in its own right, there is a great urge I have to not only duplicate her effort, but hopefully even surpass it. Presently, I have succeeded in swallowing three swords at once, which was first accomplished on stage at the Troccadero Theater in Philadelphia. Interestingly enough, I was a bit nervous about doing this for the first time, so Red Stuart easily swallowed the stack to give me motivation.

The very dangerous triple blade sandwich. Slipper Room, NYC [2007] 

That was also the same evening I shared the stage with Red Stuart and a few other sword swallowers to participate in a group swallow. In other words, we all stood in a line and swallowed our swords in simultaneous fashion. While I have only been a part of two group swallows, I must say that it was quite an honor to be on stage with performers I had the utmost respect for as we all slid solid steel into our stomachs.

Group swallow at Palace of Wonders, Washington D.C. [2007] Photo: David Schmidt

Over the past four years, I have added a few other objects to the routine. Currently, I swallow a stainless steel wire coat hanger, 15 inch cane sword, 18 inch 8-sided sai and the 18 1/2 sword, though it is without a proper handle. It actually fell off during a performance, at which point I picked it up, explained to the audience that they could not think the blade retracted into the handle, then continued with the act. There are certainly plans to find even more objects that I can swallow, though I am keeping such thoughts to myself.

In recognition of my accomplishment as a sword swallower, I decided to get a tattoo that would very obviously state my profession. This was something that did not take much thought, as I had wanted to celebrate my 26th birthday with a new piece of ink anyway. The design was partially inspired by one of my own swords, and I took a long train ride up to New Jersey just to obtain the piece. While I was definitely slightly nervous, most of that feeling subsided the moment that stencil was placed on my neck. About an hour or so later, I looked at the permanent artwork and smiled. Two after acquiring the tattoo, I performed at a New Year’s Eve event at a warehouse in Brooklyn, even though my neck was slightly stiff.

The very appropriate tattoo to honor my profession. Artist: Kevin Craig

The highlight of my somewhat short career as a sword swallower came in January of 2009, when I met Thomas Blackthorne. He is most well known for swallowing a jackhammer, and also holds several Guinness Book titles. It just so happened that he was passing through town with a sword that he had made, in an attempt to get as many people as possible to swallow it. Barry Silver and myself accompanied him to the steps of the Art Museum, where we were photographed and videotaped downing that very cold steel blade. The best comparison I can give, is if one were to accidentally swallow a whole ice pop. However, I must say that it was the finest sword I have ever had the pleasure of sliding into my stomach. A few months ago, I learned that the record was officially recognized, with my name being recorded in the book for posterity, and literally is engraved into that steel sword.

There are approximately 100 people world wide who can swallow a sword, and only a handful of those are women. While I am not the youngest, tallest or can swallow the most, I am still very proud of my unusual ability. It is definitely my favorite act to perform, and it never ceases to get a reaction from the audience. My main goal is to continue sharing it with as many people as possible, teaching a bit of history along the way, and some day setting a new record. As it has been said many times in this business, certainly this is a hard way to make an easy living, but I would not trade the experience for anything in the world.

For more information about sword swallowing, please visit the following sites:

Sword Swallowing To The Hilt

Sword Swallowers Association International

Benefit For Uriah & Quentin

As a follow up to this post, I am happy to report that these gentlemen have finally been released from prison. However, they are far from being free, as they still have to face trial. The support and generosity of donations is very much appreciated. CD’s and T-shirts may also still be available via Farmageddon-Records.In addition, there will be a benefit concert in Philadelphia on August 28th. Proceeds will put towards their legal fees and whatnot. According to Farmageddon-Records, any extra funds might possible go towards an organization helping sexually abused victims. Over all, it is important to remember that your actions will always have consequences, so it is wise to think carefully about this. Lies do nothing but cause harm, and in this case, have pretty much impacted the lives of two innocent men.

Entertainment for the evening will be provided by Nate Hancock, American Speedway, the Goddamn Gallows [minus Baby G] and yours truly swallowing swords. There will also be a 50/50 raffle, and possibly some other great surprises. Supporting the scene always helps it grow, so scrape those pennies together and come out to show some love.

Anti-Scene

[Originally written some time in 2002]

As far as I know, there is not much of a real scene here in New Jersey. Granted, I have come across many people that used their entire allowance at Hot Topic, just for the simple fact of being able to say: “I shop at Hot Topic, I’m cool” or what have you. Oh yes, I am ever so impressed because you gave in and decided to support a corporation, while in the meantime, mommy is sewing your brand new patch onto your black backpack so you can show it off on Monday in school.

So yeah, aside from those that blatantly scream “I spend my allowance at Hot Topic to make mommy and daddy pissed”, there are the ever present metal heads, hip hop dudes and a random spattering of punks—tho most of them are all about the fashion and will make faces at you if you don’t fit the stereotype. Then there’s the preppy douchebags and their fake ‘n’ bake girlfriends rolling around in plastic cars that they can’t handle at high speeds—tho they do put so much effort into showing how fast they can go. Just can’t wait to die, I suppose.

From what I have experienced, there is no united scene around here. Maybe I can’t really speak for the rest of the state, because I haven’t been everywhere in Jersey. Here in E-town, there’s nothing. Oh, and that so-called ‘club’ one city over…it doesn’t even deserve recognition. The only ‘dress code’ enforced there is green. Enough said.

Being inspired by certain things isn’t bad, but blindly falling into a genre or trend is pure stupidity. It happens all the time, tho people are never aware that they do it, and they certainly make for good amusement.

Anyway, getting to the point. Yes, I have indeed reaped a benefit from the fact that ‘unusual’ clothing is more readily available. However, it also means that anyone who just thinks it’s ‘cool’ or “my friends will freak when they see me in this” will grow bored and move on. There are countless times where I hear the story of “oh, I used to dress like that”. The reason you don’t now, is because you only liked the novelty of the clothing/accessories/music. Do you seriously think you’re going to convince me to change just because you grew out of your phase?

That’s always been good for a laugh. If I was going thru a ‘phase’, I’m quite sure I would have grown out of it by now. Let’s see, I’ll be 21 in December, which means I’ve been in my ‘phase’ for about six years now. That’s sort of beating a dead horse, eh?

However, it is important to stop caring and not let the exploding ‘trends’ bother me, as I know that one day it will get boring, and the next ‘new thing’ will be sought after. While all the lemmings gather, I’ll just continue to be myself. Of course I know that there are plenty of people who say: “This is just me”. Sure, I’ll believe that, considering the fact that the majority of the people who do say that [once again] are corporate Hot Topic products. Manufactured DIY is such an oxymoron. If it has pre-made, you are only impressing the other idiots who do not comprehend the purpose of DIY.

In any event I am straying from my point.

There are many different labels that people attempt to place on me, from ‘goth’ to ‘punk’, and other not so nice names], but I have never really considered myself to be any of these.

In my heart, I have a fondness for the circus and sideshow, which has been with me for numerous years. My best friend said that he considers me to be a true Carny, and since that is not an honor one can easily gain, I might as well start wearing it with pride. There is joy in modifying my body, to please only my own aesthetic. Clothes, hair, make-up and accessories follow the same vein. The music I listen to and movies I watch are because I want to, not so I can throw around my knowledge of them adnausem. These are just things that make up me, not because they are a part of some stereotypical genre or scene. You cannot lump me into your general categories, and it’s simply because I don’t belong in any of them.

Even while wearing clothes I don’t consider being ‘dressed up’ in, some random woman passed me on the sidewalk and said “Cool outfit”. My appearance can make a good conversation starter, but I have noticed after a few minutes, people are looking past my skin, and are talking to me. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I carry myself with confidence, and I do not allow trends to dictate what I should or should not wear.

In the end, I will always feel like the eternal misfit, because I know that there is no one else like me. However, I choose to embrace this, knowing that I am true to myself and don’t need to play some character in order for people to like me, as I have no interest in fake friends. Take your scene and shove it; I’m proud to be a Carny, and no can ever take that away from me.

Tripping on Coney Island

[Originally written 9.22.02]

Went to Coney Island last nite, and I did not want to leave.  Oh how glorious it was! Perhaps this was inspired by the fact that I was flipping through the channels yesterday and came across The Warriors.  [For those that don’t know, the Warriors wind up in Coney Island].  After calling Jon to tell him abut this, he said it was a sign that we had to go on an adventure.  Made myself ugly, and we met up at a rest stop on the Turnpike where I left my vehicle, and we rode towards Brooklyn together in his Chevy.

As luck would have it, we were able to hop right onto the Goethels.  There was a full moon, and it was so beautiful;  fat, round and orange, due to the numerous amount of noxious fumes being released, which could kind of smell even though we were smoking a fat joint.  Cruised over the bridge with Luna as our guide, and the closer we got, the higher in the sky she rose, becoming brighter and brighter.  Ran into some traffic on the Verizzano, but that did not bother me, as I had the opportunity to peek over the side and see our neon-lit Mecca.

Finally we arrived, and there were not a whole lot of people ariybd, but just being at Coney Island for the first time in a long while, I smiled.  We smoked a blunt in the Chevy while listening to some surf tunes and talking about random things.  Jon produced a flask of whiskey and asked me if I was ready for the time of my life.  It was an odd question because I obviously always enjoy being in his company, and the grin on his face told me that this particular evening would be a special one that I would not forget any time soon.  Went down to the sea and did what needed to be done – I washed myself clean in the dark water and vowed that one day I would return.  Then we ate mushrooms.

Rode the Cyclone six times in a row, which put much needed joy in my veins.  The first time around we were completely by ourselves, and I think I really needed that.  She was quick as hell and feeling the wind in my hair again made me very happy.  Second time around there were a few more people, and each subsequent round was almost a full train.  Every circuit was absolutely breathtaking, the full moon shining over the dark water below and the stars struggling to shine against the lights of the amusement are.  Fantastic moments of weightlessness and just the exhilaration of forgetting about all the shit that I have been carrying left me feeling wonderful.  Plus someone planted a kiss on my forehead every time we completed a circuit, so that had me pretty giddy as well.

Then we dropped some acid as we made our way towards the Wonder Wheel.  By the time we were rotating into the evening, all the lights on the buzzing rides were slowly swirling together.  What an amazing view.  Wait, is he holding my hand?

Strolling along the boardwalk, I was in my own little world with my hand clutched tightly by my best friend.  We laughed over some Nathan’s famous hot dogs and then found a dark spot under the boards to finish off the rest of that blunt.  The vast stretch of dark water in front of us seemed to swirl into the sky.  While the noise from the people and rides collided above, we were just enjoying random conversation and the relaxation of sitting in the cool sand.  Hours passed without us even noticing, his arms wrapped around me and my head leaning against his chest.

Eventually the people were departing, so we pried ourselves from the sand, and then we climbed into his Chevy once again.  The drive back to where my car had been parked was strangely quiet.  Said our good-byes, though it was pretty hard, and I will have to try my best to make another journey out that way before the end of the season.

Sincerely wished that I did not have to drive back to my apartment alone.

Truth be told, I feel much different today. While I am not sure exactly why, I feel as though I have shed a great burden.  For once in a long time, I am definitely very happy.  It is all thanks to visiting a great amusement park and few rides on the mighty Cyclone.  Of course having my best friend by my side always puts a smile on my face as well.

Coney Island is a magical place after all.

Hobo Ethical Code

It has come to my attention that being a hobo has become ‘trendy’. While this information is not very new, I must confess that I really don’t understand why people have to ruin cultures that existed for many years. There are kids that come into the Hostile City for the specific purpose of posing as a squatter or gutter punk. They congregate in the park, contribute nothing of worth and will put their hand out in hopes of making some money.

Honestly, I find this to be incredibly disgusting and insulting to those who have truly embraced such a lifestyle. On a recent trip to South Street, I saw a couple of these kids sitting with a cardboard sign and asking for spare change. Their clothes appeared to be fairly new and were quite clean, the girl was wearing bling plugs, and neither one of them looked as though they had spent a single nite on the street. When I walked past and that hand when out, my natural response was “Get a fucking job!”

There are a lot of homeless people in this city, some of which are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Every single one of them has a story, and unfortunately, there are many who lie thru their teeth for sympathy. While I have given of myself in many instances, lately I cannot bear parting with a dollar or even the loose change jingling around in my hand bag. Mostly due to the fact that I myself am unemployed, but also because I am tired of people taking the easy way out. If I really wanted to, I could be just like those individuals who would rather sit on the street and prey on the generosity of strangers than make the effort to get a job.

On a few occasions, I came across some hobos recently, and without a second thought I happily handed them whatever I could spare. It did not matter what they were going to use the money for, nor did I really care. At least they are being honest, and I will readily reward that over some lame story that’s supposed to play on my heart strings. Besides, as a Carny, I sort of feel obligated to show kindness towards like-minded individuals.

In any event, before taking the plunge and jumping on a train to score cool points, one should be fully aware of what is considered to be proper traveling etiquette.

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 Nationwide Hobo Body.

  • Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.
  • When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  • Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
  • 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.
  • When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  • Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk [or drug addict] and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.
  • 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.
  • Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
  • If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
  • Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
  • 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.
  • Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
  • Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
  • Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  • Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
  • If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts!

For some more interesting reading, check out the Dictionary of Old Hobo Slang, brought to you by the Original Hobo Nickel Society.