Saturday, October 31, 2009


Back in the olden days of the last century,
when we were penniless and subsisted
on one turnip each for dinner and walked
ten miles blind and barefoot and uphill
through the snow to school each day,
and uphill back home again, and forks
had not yet been invented and we daily
suffered through hour after hour without
You Tube and facebook --


I was just kidding.

Seriously though, did anyone else put vaseline
on his/her face and then stick coffee grounds
on the vaseline to mimic a beard in order to complete
his/her hobo costume for Halloween? I don't know
whose brilliant idea this was, but I do remember
a big greasy mess and the coffee grounds dropping off
onto the shoulders of our coats (of course we had to
wear coats OVER our costumes: The Injustice of It!)
along the dark and often rainy trick-or-treat route.

Hobo! I can't imagine anyone these days dressing up
as a homeless person. Or even using the word "hobo" --

1889, Western Amer.Eng., of unknown origin, perhaps related to early 19c. Eng. dial. "lout, clumsy fellow, country bumpkin." Or from hawbuckho, boy, a workers' call on late 19c. western U.S. railroads. Hence facetious formation hobohemia "community or life of hobos," 1923 (see bohemian ). Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

When I googled the word "hawbuckho", nothing came up,
in spite of the dictionary reference above.

I love the internet.
I love where it takes me.

I think tonight I'll dress up as a hobohemian,
minus the coffee grounds.


  1. Eeewwwww! Vaseline and coffee grounds? Yuck! No, we did the traditional thing - beards on hobos and pirates were drawn on with charcoal. LOTS easier to clean up afterward.

    Hobohemian actually sounds cool (says the guy who watches the movie version of Rent at least 3 times a year). That subtle hint of the Bohemian life lends a little panache to the humdrum hobo.

  2. Roy, you were such a sensible child (apparently!)!

  3. Yes. Coffee grounds. The word remains in the lexicon. When I was teaching elementary orchestra a few years back I talked about the oboes and a kid raised his hand and asked why there were hobos in the orchestra. He was probably tortured with the Vaseline/coffee ground bit. Hahahahaa.

    ps. Don't forget the red and white bandanna tied to the end of a stick.

  4. RK -- the red and white bandana! I haven't thought about that in years and years. Or the camping pot carried on a stick. Egads.

    Love the oboe/hobo story.