Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 15 > Inside Front Cover - Peter Willy Murphy, Hoboing Days

Inside Front Cover - Peter Willy Murphy, Hoboing Days

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1976/12/1 (966 reads)

Willy Murphy, Hoboing Days Hoboing. Iliat goes back to my school days • getting out of school because of torment, not because I hated it but be? cause I knew that my father with 9 of a family damn well couldn't keep me in school to make anything out of me be? cause he didn*t have two suits of clothes himself • so how could I have a suit of clothes to go to school and another to play around with. The result of it was every chance I got I got away from it • ??ind I did, I went sailing first, I was around 13, The English boats were plenti? ful around here then. Coal from Cape Bre? ton to Montreal, back to Belle Isle, iron, back to Whitney Pier, But I was underage and ray parents came down and took me off. Begged me to go back to school. So I did. Went back to school for a couple of years but then • it was in the summer. The harvest trains were running. Hoboing seemed to be the popular thing. Before she'd pull out, you'd go like hell down the track ahead of the train and you'd pick a good spot so you could land it. Your best bet was on the outside of a bend. You'd get on the outside of the bend because the engine would be gone down here and the back of the train would be there, so the couplings would be all at their best width • be all wide on the outside. Where on the inside of the bend the engineer could look back and see you • fellow on the caboose could look down and see you • you had no chance to run at the train. Then you'd get good at it. You'd make a jump or a leap for the rungs either on the box car or baggage, I never road rods. I've seen fellows do it but I can't do it, I never picked up the courage to do it. For hoboing you wear high gloves, very high gloves, strong gloves. For jumping and scuffing in the ashes, see. See, you'd jump, you wouldn't always land on your feet. Maybe you'd go like that, that far for cripes sake, and you'd be skinned, practically to there. You see, the firemen on the tenders weren't bad, the engineers on it, but you had to watch out for the conductor, the train police, and the trainmen, I got kicked off one time in Orangedale, On an early morning train, I saw the sha? dow coming behind me, and I was peeping out behind the baggage and Lord, before I knew it, I got the boot right in the tail bone, boy, and Whooshl He kicked me good and hard so I wouldn't fall under the wheels. And Lord, I went out into space. Well, I laid there for pretty near half a day dazed, I couldn't move • paralyzed me. He caught me right in the tail bone, I never seen who he was because I often planned I'd get him, Orangedale was where they take on water. They used to take on water for the en? gines and when the engine starts slowing down, then you get ready to scram, in case there's a police after you or some? thing. Get into the bushes, get anywhere. And Lord, I stuck my head out round the baggage car to see what was happening. See, sometimes you're on the roof; some? times you're down underneath; sometimes you're in the coupling. You keep moving around so that they can't keep track of you. Anyhow, Lord I got it. When you're stopped at a station every? thing is there. The stationmaster sees you; the conductor sees you; the brakeman sees you and everybody sees you. That's no damn time to get it. You wait till its All-1-1 Aboard juid all the doors slam, and you're waiting up the track. Crossing the strait on the ferry, they'd take the train apart • putting it on there two, three cars at a time. No matter where you hide, for cripe's sake, you're going to get exposed. So you'd wait and sometimes it'd cost you a dime and some? times it wouldn't. Anyhow, we used to get across all right. In fact, you'd get a God-darned good feed when you were on. Conductor would say, "Supper in the boat," and everybody'd run downstairs to get something to eat. If you didn't have any money to get something you could always steal the other fellow's sandwich. They didn't know. Our thanks to Elizabeth Beaton of Anti- fonish who supplied us with a transcript rom her interviews with Peter Willy Murphy of New Waterford, C H
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