On the Fly! - Hobo Literature and Songs, 1879-1941
From the 1870s until the Second World War, millions of Americans left their homes to board freight trains that would carry them vast distances, sometimes to waiting work, often to points unknown. Congregating in skid rows, socialising around campfires, and bringing in the nation's crops, these drifters were set apart from conformist America by a lifestyle possessing its own haunts, vocabulary, and cultural, sexual, and ethical standards. Alternately derided and lionised for their footloose ways and nonconformity, hoboes played a crucial and largely neglected role in the creation of not only America's infrastructure, industry, and agriculture but also its culture, politics, and music. The first anthology of its kind, On the Fly! brings forth the lost voices of Hobohemia. Dozens of stories, poems, songs, stories, and articles produced by hoboes are brought together to create an insider history of the subculture's rise and fall.
Adrenaline-charged tales of train hopping, scams, and political agitation are combined with humorous and satirical songs, razor sharp reportage and unique insights into the lives of the women and men who crisscrossed America in search of survival and adventure.