Tag Archives: history

Celebrating The Hobo Life

Monday is opening day of the annual, week-long National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa (August 3-9, 2015). To celebrate the life of these wandering workers here are a few insights and ephemeral facts and documents related to hobos.

From 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.”

The origin of the term hobo is unknown. According to etymologist Anatoly Liberman, the only certain detail about its origin is the word was first noticed in American English circa 1890.[1] Liberman points out that many folk etymologies fail to answer the question: “Why did the word become widely known in California (just there) by the early Nineties (just then)?”[1] Author Todd DePastino has suggested it may be derived from the term hoe-boy meaning “farmhand”, or a greeting such as Ho, boy![3] Bill Bryson suggests in Made in America (1998) that it could either come from the railroad greeting, “Ho, beau!” or a syllabic abbreviation of “homeward bound”.[4] It could also come from the words “homeless boy”

  1. "On Hobos, Hautboys, and Other Beaus". OUPblog. Oxford University Press. November 12,   
     2008. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
  2. Mencken, H.L. (1937). "On the road again". The American Language (4th ed.). 
     grammarphobia.com (July 25, 2009). Archived from the original on 2012-05-05. Retrieved 
     2013-05-06.
  3. Interview with Todd DePastino, author of Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness    
     Shaped America from the University of Chicago Press website
  4. Bryson, Bill (1998). Made in America.[page needed]. ISBN 978-0-380-71381-3.

Various periods of American history have stimulated the growth of the Hobo popultation. From the end of the Civil War which saw many displaced veterans hopping the rails in search of work to the surge in the 1890s during the depression of the time. And of course the Great Depression in the 1930’s put not only single people but whole families on the road and rails in search of work.

1900 –

    Britt, Iowa and the Hobos

This friendship began with the aspirations of three Britt men, Thomas A. Way, T.A. Potter, and W.E. Bradford, in 1900. Their desire was to gain some attention for the small Iowa town to “do something different to show the world that Britt was a lively little town capable of doing anything that larger cities could do.”

Way and Potter read a report in the Chicago paper that Tourists Union No. 63 had elected as officers Onion Cotton, of Danville, Illinois and Grand Head Pipe Charles F. Noe, of Sycamore, Illinois. They wrote to Noe and invited him to bring the Hobo Convention to Britt in 1900. Noe wrote them that he would come out to Britt and look the ground over, providing Way and Potter would defray his carfare and expenses. They agreed.

It was an autumn day in 1899 that Noe arrived at the Milwaukee depot and was met by Way and Potter. They wined and dined the Grand Head Pipe, then called in an attorney, W.E. Bradford, to guide the proceedings and see that they were legal. They also invited Phil Reed, a newspaper man connected with the Britt News. The four men must have guaranteed that the Hobo Convention would go over big in Britt, for Noe agreed to bring the convention to Britt in 1900 and the 22nd day of August was set as the date.

Bailey of Britt, a nationally known humorist and an ardent conventioneer, assumed the publicity end of the promotion, and various other men took responsible positions on the committees. The novelty of the convention appealed to newspaper reporters everywhere, and everyone talked it up, taking the matter as a joke – except the promoters.

From Britt, Iowa homepage:
“The Britt hobo logo was first used in the 1900 convention announcements and advertising. The figure used in the ad has been changed very little over the years and is now found around town on school letterheads, the city’s watertower, on the highway welcome sign, as well as on restaurant menus.

The “Britt hobo” is thought to be Tourist Union 63 President Onion Cotton. Onion Cotton is the hobo who agreed to bring the convention to Britt in 1900.”

Here are a few more links for more info on the National Hobo Convention and Hobo History
National Hobo Convention, Britt, Iowa (Aug. 3-9)
hobo.com
Hobo Museum, Britt, Iowa

    The Millionaire Hobo

Another interesting hobo storyline is the work of James Eads How (1874 – 1930) was an American organizer of the hobo community in the early 20th century. Heir of a wealthy St. Louis family, How chose to live as a hobo and to help the homeless migrant workers. The newspapers often referred to him as the “Millionaire Hobo”.

How was the founder, driving force, and financier of the International Brotherhood Welfare Association, a union for migrant workers which published Hobo News, and organized hobo colleges and hobo conventions.
More about James Eads How on Wikipedia

    Hobo Ephemera:

Here are some links to hobo ephemera available for purchase today:

(HOBOES OF AMERICA.) DAVIS, JEFF KING-EMPEROR.A GATHERING OF ORIGINAL HOBO EPHEMERA.

A GATHERING OF ORIGINAL HOBO EPHEMERA. Cincinnati. c.1947 Courtesy Heldfond Book Gallery, Ltd.: http://ift.tt/1AXo8UQ

Cincinnati. c.1947. The collection is comprised of : two handwritten correspondences on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery from Jeff Davis soliciting the newly published “Knights of the Road Scrap Book” along with news concerning recent gatherings and upcoming conventions; A solicitation for funding on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery with printed notes laid on and bearing the ink stamped signature of Jeff Davis; a handwritten correspondence from Jeff Davis on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery presenting “Bo Pete” with his 3rd Degree membership credential and signed ” Hoboically Yours, Jeff Davis , King and Emperor; a handwritten correspondence from Jeff Davis on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery relaying some brief news and presenting “Bruce” with his 3rd Degree membership credential and ” a card from Jack Dempsey’s New York Bar” and signed ” Hoboically Yours, Jeff Davis , King and Emperor; a Knights of the Road ” Certificate of 3rd degree Knighthood filled in and signed by Davis and bearing an official Hoboes of America official embossed seal;another Knights of the Road ” Certificate of 3rd degree Knighthood filled in and signed by Davis and bearing an official Hoboes of America official embossed seal; a small proxy ballot for ratification of Jeff Davis as “King of the Hoboes for Life”, to be used if “unable to attend because of war conditions”; a National Membership Card of the International Itinerant Migratory Workers’ Union-Hoboes of America, filled in and signed by Jeff Davis;Knights of the Road Membership “Certification of Knighthood” card, filled in and signed by Jeff Davis and bearing the gold embossed official seal of the International Itinerant Migratory Workers’ Union-Hoboes of America; Letterhead envelope hand addressed by Jeff Davis and postmarked April 1, 1947.

Luminaries listed upon the official Knights of the Road letter-head are. Jack Dempsey, Carl Sandburg,Walter Huston,Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Lowell Thomas -broadcaster, and traveller,Joe Louis- Heavyweight Champ, Jack Dempsey-Heavyweight Champ,Walter Huston – Director, “Gen.” Jacob Coxey – Politician and Activist, Arthur Hayday – British Union Leader and Member of Parliament, Monrad Wallgren – Governor and US. Senator.

Letter sheets and certificates folded for mailing.Very Good, moderately soiled Envelope opened at side instead of rear. All other pieces in bright, crisp Fine condition. A charming and evocative gathering of American Cultural relics.

Item #8719

Price: $750.00

Cowan’s Auctions: The Midwest’s Most Trusted Auction House / Antiques / Fine Art / Art Appraisals

Captain D.G. Farragut, Sixth Plate Daguerreotype, Earliest Known Photograph, Ca 1854
Captain D.G. Farragut, Sixth Plate Daguerreotype, Earliest Known Photograph, Ca 1854

On June 13th Cowan’s is offering a remarkable selection of early photographs, letters, documents, flags, political ephemera and more dating from the Revolutionary War-period through the Civil War and beyond, as well as the American West. We are proud to present selections from the Paul DeHaan Collection of items related to Admiral David Glasgow Farragut and his flagship, the U.S.S. Hartford. Additionally, photography from the Tom MacDonald Maine Civil War CDV Collection will also be featured in the auction.

auction notes

Preview Times

Thursday, June 12: 12:00 – 5:00 pm EST

Friday, June 13: 8:00 – 10:00 am EST

Buyer’s Premium for this auction is 17.5[%]

via Cowan’s Auctions: The Midwest’s Most Trusted Auction House / Antiques / Fine Art / Art Appraisals.

Mexican War, Battle of Buena Vista, Letter Containing Graphic Content 6/13/2014 - American History: Live Salesroom Auction 3pp, 7.75 x 9.5 in. Buena Vista Camp near Saltillo Mexico, April 23, 1847. To Mr. George Smith of Frederick, MD from George Toms. In ink, spelling a bit "creative" and for the most part the entire letter is one sentence, but handwriting clear. Toms describes the march from Matamoros to Buena Vista, a distance of about 500 miles.
Mexican War, Battle of Buena Vista, Letter Containing Graphic Content
6/13/2014 – American History: Live Salesroom Auction
3pp, 7.75 x 9.5 in. Buena Vista Camp near Saltillo Mexico, April 23, 1847. To Mr. George Smith of Frederick, MD from George Toms. In ink, spelling a bit “creative” and for the most part the entire letter is one sentence, but handwriting clear. Toms describes the march from Matamoros to Buena Vista, a distance of about 500 miles.

Museum of the City of New York Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities – BWWVisual ArtsWorld

Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) William Goldberg Date: May 7, 1937; Gelatin silver print: image width: 13 11/16" image height: 16 5/8"
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991)
William Goldberg
Date: May 7, 1937; Gelatin silver print:
image width: 13 11/16″
image height: 16 5/8″

Great news from the Big Apple for Ephemera lovers.
Another example of why we need to support the National Endowment for the Humanities!

New York, NY

The Museum of the City of New York is pleased to announce the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the project Illuminating New York City History through Material Culture: A Proposal to Process, Catalog, Digitize, and Rehouse the Ephemera Collections of the Museum of the City of New York. The application, submitted to the NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant opportunity in July 2013, outlines a plan to increase public access to over 6,500 objects of material culture over the course of two years. The materials will eventually be available on the Museum’s online Collections Portal. The Museum was notified of the successful funding of this application in the amount of $125,000 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office in March 2014, by instruction of the NEH.

Read the full article hereMuseum of the City of New York Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities – BWWVisual ArtsWorld.

Almost Time For The May Run of the Brimfield Antique Show By Lori Stabile | Special to The Republican

Brimfield 1800 from a sketch by Colonel John W. Foster
Brimfield 1800 from a sketch by Colonel John W. Foster

Great article on the Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Show next week. Go for the Brimfield Paper & Postcard Marathon beginning May 9th and stay for the Antiques blitz!

By Lori Stabile | Special to The Republican
It’s almost time for the May installment of the Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Shows, a thrice annual event that draws antique lovers from near and far to the tiny town of Brimfield, Mass. for six days at a time.

The May show – known as the largest antique show of the three – opens Tuesday, May 13 and runs through Sunday, May 18.

What is usually farmland transforms into a giant outdoor antique sale, featuring thousands of dealers on 23 fields selling almost everything imaginable – giant Ronald McDonald heads, garden items, 1950s dishes, postcards from various eras, music equipment, furniture, vintage jewelry and clothing and more.

It was 1959 when Gordon Reid got the idea to hold an outdoor antique show.

His daughters, Judith R. Mathieu and Jill R. Lukesh, continue the tradition their father started, on the J&J Promotions field, which is open only on Friday and Saturday and hosts 400 dealers.

Opening times vary according to field, with most opening Tuesday. Check www.brimfieldshow.com for specific field opening times.

The first “show” featured 67 dealers selling items on tarps in front of their station wagons, Mathieu said, describing the event as “rustic.”

Asked what Reid would think about Brimfield has become, Mathieu replied, “Oh my gosh, he would be thrilled. He would be quite honored, I’m sure.”

She said that she and her sister have maintained the quality that her father wanted on his field, ensuring dealers are selling antiques and not new items.

Because the family has been involved in the shows so long, Mathieu has plenty of advice for first-timers to the shows (the next show is in July, followed by the last one in September).

Dress comfortably, she suggests, and bring cash, as many dealers do not accept credit cards.

And bargain. Dealers expect it, Mathieu said, “but be fair in your offer.”

Even though Brimfield has been around now for many years, Mathieu said they still hear people tell them that this is their first time.

“People are just thrilled to be here,” Mathieu said.

Celebrity sightings are not unusual at Brimfield – home decor maven Martha Stewart, hockey great Terry O’Reilly, singer-actress Barbra Streisand and director-actress Penny Marshall all have been spotted in recent years.

Donald G. Moriarty, co-owner of Heart O’ the Mart with his wife Pamela, predicts that the May show will be “great.” They have been involved in the antiques show for the past 32 years, and he said he’s been seeing more international buyers at the shows.

“Each year seems to get a little bit bigger,” Moriarty said.

His field opens Wednesday at 9 a.m. with approximately 450 dealers. Like Mathieu, he advises people to dress “for comfort, not style” and in layers.

“Bring your wallet . . . Allocate as much time as you possibly can because it’s a huge, huge show,” Moriarty said.

Some fields charge admission. The next shows are July 8 to 13, and September 2 to 7.

Here is where to find maps and brochures for the Brimfield Show

Re-posted from Mass Live

Everything Is On Sale This Week at 9MilesOfWonder on Etsy

9 MILES OF EPHEMERA & ANTIQUES by 9MilesOfWonder on Etsy.

Everything is 25% off this week!

Find something for Mom today and it will be shipped to arrive by Saturday.

Or buy Mom and Etsy Gift Card and point her towards 9 Miles Of Wonder on Etsy so she can choose her own gift!

Listings will be added throughout the day and tomorrow so if there is a special item you are looking for don’t hesitate to email me. I have a ton of items available which aren’t listed.

Enjoy your shopping on my and the other great shops on Etsy.com.

Sale ends May 17th!!!

Cheers!
cdavid

Dive Into The History of Neon With Len Davidson

Recently restored 1950's Levis Hot Dog Sign
Recently restored 1950’s Levis Hot Dog Sign

Hosted By Philadelphia Center for Architecture there will be a series of talks, tours, and classes led by my friend and fellow Philadelphia Dumpster Diver, Len Davidson.

Len has been collecting, preserving and restoring neon since the 1970’s and is a master at all things Neon.

Be sure to check out the programs he is offering by going to the website here

One of the many signs that Len Davidson
One of the many signs that Len Davidson has restored.

The Ephemera of Love | Winterthur Museum & Library Blog

Vintage Mechanical Valentine

Hoping we love each other as much today as on any other day of the year.
Here’s an article from the Wintherthur Museum in Delaware on the Ephemera of love:

The Ephemera of Love | Winterthur Museum & Library Blog.

The Winterthur Museum houses one of the finest collections of American Ephemera,
The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection

This world-class collection contains some 250,000 items that visually documents life in America from 1820 to 1920, The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection is now housed in the Winterthur Library.

Enjoy!
cdavid