The Secret Language of Vagabonds and Traveling Hobos
by Mike Richard | November, 2007
Not surprisingly, vagabonds and traveling hobos have their own system of language which I’m sure dates back decades, if not centuries.
Some hobos now communicate via cellular phones and e-mail. But the classic American hobo of early this century communicated through a much more basic system of marks–a code through which they gave information and warnings to their fellow Knights of the Road. Usually, these signs would be written in chalk or coal on a trestle, fence, building or sidewalk, letting others know what they could expect in the area of the symbol.
My favorites: “Man with a gun lives here.” and “Kind woman lives here. Tell a pitiful story.”
How many symbols can you guess? Most are not really intuitive at all, but I suppose that’s the point.
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About the Author
Vagabondish founding editor, Mike Richard, is a Rhode Island native, professional web designer and travel junkie with an unhealthy addiction to backpacking, hiking and seeing the world. He enjoys knit hats, small, declarative sentences and speaking in the third person. His professional credits include "Woman's World magazine contributor" and having once been interviewed by Tyra Banks (seriously).