Riding The Rails Riding the Rails The Depression caused hard times for everybody, but I think it was especially difficult for men since they were the ones responsible for making the money for food and things for the families. This forced many of them to leave their homes in search of work, most just rode the railroads in search of work. These men were dubbed the name Hobos. One story that I read was about a guy named Henry Koczar, from East Chicago. He was 19 years old when he left his family.
Being part of a big family mad it hard on his parents to put food on the table every day. Especially because his father was now suffering from stomach ulcers and to top it off out of work. Henry wanted only for his family to have it a little bit easier and felt he was old enough now to start working on his own. So in September of 1932 he took off on a train in hopes of lightening the burden on his family. Now not all of the hobos were out of high school and ready for work. Some of them were just kids when they started life on their own. The ones I’m going to talk about were only 11, 12 and 13 years old! Berkeley Hacket was one of those kids that didn’t enjoy school too much.
One day he just ran away on his way there. The year was 1929, he was 13 years old. Dials and Emmy, I think, were smart. They kept each other company along the way. The two left their Seattle home in 1929. When they reached Auborn Yards it was near 2:00, shortly after they began their eight hour haul over the Cascade Mountains.
Emma was 11 and Dials was 12. Claude Franklin simply said his lust to wander was all it took for him to run away. Leslie E. Pauls had kind of an ironically coincidental situation, he happened to be the son and step-son of railroad men. He keeps vivid memories of his Duluth home, sittin’ back in the summer time on the porch he grew up on.
That was when he left, in the summer, it was 1933 and he had just graduated from high school. He was 18 and ready for the world. Most of these stories don’t really have too much heartache in them but it was tough on them all no matter what the situation. Once they got out there they found work wasn’t as available as they’d hoped it would be. Some towns didn’t even want them around at all and they were physically and verbally forced out of them. So the sound of seeing the world had a whole new meaning once they were in it.