EDITORíS DESK: Hobos of the past

       In the early 1970s, when I was hitchhiking a bit, I ran into a variety of folks. Some were going to be poets or musicians, some were fleeing bad circumstances, some liked to travel and some were just down on their luck. Being on the road can be perilous, of course, and it was cool to team up once in awhile with complete strangers who were headed the same way. Marvelous things could happen too. Like the time I got dropped off in a small Pennsylvania town in a pouring rain at about 10 p.m. when a couple of guys in a jeep pulled up out of nowhere to offer me a place for the night.
       I suppose there are contemporary hobos who might recognize some of their own lives in the paragraph above. But I'm not sure they'd like where I'm going with the rest of this commentary. Because what I'm seeing of this current crop is frankly pathetic. The people I knew from those now-far-off days may have been (in certain cases) fun-loving to a fault, but for the most part they were industrious, happy to be pursuing happiness and, if not willing to work, at least resigned to that necessity. They didn't shamble into towns, take over public parks and creeksides and put up placards begging for money. They didn't follow elderly women to their cars to intimidate them into handouts. They didn't pass out drunk on public streets (at least not on a constant basis, ha-ha), requiring expensive treatment (funded by others, of course) from emergency personnel.
       Yet here we are now, with the city forced to contemplate ordinances, within freedom of speech rights, seeking to curb such behavior. What's really sad is seeing humanity evolve downward, to where dependency is a matter of course. But that's a column for another day. My final thought is, we can help change this, folks. Read the poster on Page 3. Take it from a former hobo. Saying "no" can be another way of saying "yes."

- K.J.