Baldwin City - Norwood - Ottawa
66006   Kansas   66067

Hobo Gathering May 21-23, 2004
Hosted by Mama JO & Liberty Justice

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Hobo Gatherings have previously been held in Baldwin City, however not within the last few years. This One-Time Event was planned by Mama JO and Liberty Justice early last year, however Liberty was hospitalized shortly thereafter, but Mama JO decided to carry on. Several others  stepped in to help out and to make the Baldwin City Area  come alive with Hoboes once again. I donít want to try to name everyone that chipped in because I would probably miss someone. I will say that Hobo Santa appeared to rise to the occasion to be Mama JOís right hand man. I asked Mama JO about her helper and she stated that she has been married to Santa for 43 years now, and yes, he was a "keeper".

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Liberty (Hobo King 1996) spent several months in the hospital and has now returned home to recuperate with Brenderís assistance. Liberty did make it to the Hobo Jungle in Norwood, KS and appeared on stage to commend Mama JOís hard work on making 2004 Baldwin City a reality. Everyone was happy that Liberty was out of the hospital, even though he had to carry oxygen with him.

As I mentioned, the Hobo Jungle was actually in Norwood, Kansas. The town of Norwood, some 5 miles out from Baldwin City, was founded in 1873 as a stop on the old Leavenworth, Lawrence and Ft. Gibson railroad. Population peaked in 1900 at fifty people. The town included a blacksmith shop and a grain elevator along with only three houses. In the 1920ís most of the people had moved out to Baldwin City or to Ottawa. Today, a small shell of a waiting station, with a Norwood sign on top, is all that remains.

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The Serenity Singers sang the Star Spangled Banner to open the Fire Lighting Ceremony at 7 P.M. on Friday May 21, 2004 with John-John lighting the fire, and Redbird doing the readings. Mama JO and Spike followed by saluting the four winds along with the rest of the  Hoboes and others present. Back in Blue Springs,  MO late Friday night, Mama JO prepared BBQ and meat loaf while Just Pat did KP duty. Saturday, a Hobo  contingent including Serenity, Baloney Kid, Just Pat, Shelly, Big John, Uncle John Potlicker, Jackie, Mama JO, Sunrise, Cynthia, Hobo Spike, and Hobo Santa provided the entertainment for a Community Service Project in Kansas City, MO at the historic Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church. This program is an Interfaith Ministry to Homeless Persons. The Church provides housing and services to over 2,000 homeless people each year and our Hobo Queen Mama JO has been involved in helping people overcome their difficulties and get back on their feet for many years.

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Saturday at camp started out as a bright sun shiny day with the Hoboes tending the grounds, keeping the fire going, and just being hoboes-doing nothing after chores. New arrivals were welcomed into camp and small groups gathered throughout the campground to renew acquaintances, tell tall tales, and participate in just general BS. In some cases, I guess old scores were settled. As Grandpa  Dudley arrived in camp, Ohio Tom attacked Grandpa in his vehicle. It seems that these boys got into it down in Amory, MS fighting over a candy bar and Grandpa got the best of Tom. Tom couldnít quite remember the Amory scuffle details as Grandpa knocked him out with a crowbar, but Tom remembered enough to seek revenge. It took Redbird, Preacher Steve, Tuck, and Lady Nightingale to pull Tom off, as Grandpa slumped unconscious inside the van. Camp security was put on ORANGE HIGH ALERT and Tom was escorted out of camp not to be seen for several hours. Baloney Kid brought to my attention that Ohio Tom was back in camp and was indeed again causing trouble. As Tom is a person of considerable size, we thought best that several hoboes should tend to the "problem." It seems that the fight was gone from our stereotypical hobo as you can see in the following pictures.

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Years and years of good public relations fell by the wayside as Ohio Tom lay  by the bandstand in full public view. BeGone Norm said the only  consolation was that Tom couldnít sing or play his harmonica.  Tom was coherent enough to be heard mumbling something about, "Iíll get that Troll in Britt." The Hobo Executive Council has a meeting set for next month to discuss this ongoing and troubling matter.

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Baloney & I stopped in to see Kellie at the world famous Main Street Liquor Store in Ottawa Saturday night as we were short on seltzer and napkins! Kellie asked how things were at camp and wanted to know if the "Angry Hobo" showed up at camp. It turns out that the "Angry Hobo" was Ohio Tom. Earlier, he  became belligerent when Kellie didnít have any gallon jugs of Thunderbird wine and he bought a case of Busch beer instead. Kellie also asked if NY Greenie and GrainCar Geo were in town this year, as she hadnít seen them as yet. She said that Greenie is sure a cutie!

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The Midland Railway Excursion Train arrived throughout the day with numerous passengers young and old. The Midland Railway is a completely volunteer-staffed, non-profit, railroad operated to preserve transportation history.  This excursion train operates on a line constructed in 1867. The train travels about 5 miles from Baldwin City to Norwood, the location of the Hobo Camp, and then another 5 miles to Ottawa Junction.

Here's three refurbished buildings on Main Street-Hwy 59 in Ottawa, KS.

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It appears that the Hobo community might have picked up a couple of new Hoboes in spite of Ohio Tomís carrying on. Hobo Phil appeared ready to sign his Union 63 card. In addition, Tommy Steichen, the kid with the bad smoking habit, was seen talking to Mama JO about joining up with the Hoboes. The Hobo musicians entertained the railway guests throughout the day. Appearing at the Hobo stage were Danville Dan, Baloney Kid, The Flying Hobo, Serenity Singers, Sunrise, Dizzy, Big John, Grandpa Dudley, Uncle John Potlicker and Jackie, MAD Mary, and Ohio Tom.

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The Hoboes had tables set up to sell their handmade items. Ohio Tom sold Train Whistles made from rail road spikes, while Danville Dan sold walking  sticks, and Baloney Kid sold a wide variety of handmade items including personalized railroad spikes. Lady Marie was tending a table with the popular "Monkey Fist" necklaces. The "Monkeyís Fist" knot has been adopted, in current times, by the Hobo Community as a symbol of sorority and fraternity. The bargain of the day was the FREE tapes given away by Grandpa Dudley and the Serenity Group.

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Mama JO and Hobo Spike tended to dubbings and presenting awards on  Saturday evening under a clear and beautiful sky. Of special note, David Waits and Anita Louison were dubbed by Mama JO and King Spike for their consideration in allowing Mama JO to serve as Hobo Queen throughout the year of her reign. David is Mama JOís bossman and Anita is a responsible co-worker. Both received a large round of applause from the Hoboes. Hobo Wedding vows were recited by Uncle John Potlicker and Jackie.

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In addition, a memorial to DeRail-Sharon Fahey was directed by Mama JO and Spike. A candle was lit by each hobo in Memory of our 2001 Hobo  queen. DeRail had died unexpectedly on December 31, 2003. Testimony to DeRailís love for the Hobo family was presented by many Hoboes, including The Flying Hobo. DeRailís son and daughter-in-law, Shaun and Luann were in attendance along with Derailís grandchild Taylor. A memorial service will also be held at the Britt, IA National gathering.

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Sunday opened up with Grandpa Dudley holding Church Service around the Hobo fire. Sunrise and the Serenity Ladies provided musical accompaniment. Grandpa, being the good person he is, asked that we pray for the troubled Ohio Tom.


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Sunday brought more Train Visitors throughout the day and I noticed that a few of our Hoboes could not resist the urge to "jump" this  four car excursion train. As Conductor Doug looked left, Milwaukee Mike approached from the  right along with Junque Box Lady. Loco Larry was right behind them. Not the fastest boarding Trio Iíve ever observed, but off they went unnoticed for a free ride. Redbird, always alert, caught sight of Milwaukee Mike  and told me that Mikeís in training for an undisclosed upcoming journey. The younger Hoboes were better at stealth and I didnít see them until they appeared on top of the caboose! Dizzy and John-John represent the speed within this Hobo camp and rode off into the sunset.

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Hobo Santa, apparently hungry again, was observed foraging for food in the camp dumpster. Happy Hobo and Side Track Chris checked out early Sunday along with Grandpa and Mary as they each have a full dayís drive to get home. Sunrise and Cynthia had to have one more train ride, so they headed back to the depot. Danville Dan was going to hang around with the Baloney Kid to sell more items to the next group of train riders. Dizzy, John-John,  and Rainbow were looking for work. Redbird was cool as always, taking life in full stride, and we talked about walking the Route 66 Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi river into Illinois one more time. Most everyone else was enjoying the rest of the day and making plans to head 120 miles south to Parsons, KS for the Hobo gathering next week. I loaded up the í72 Chevy, picked up Just Pat at Mama JOís Capri Trailer and started east for the 300 miles back to St Louis.

Baldwin City - Norwood - Ottawa
All good times St Louis Frank - May 24, 2004

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Page added 6-1-2004

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