Riding the Rails: Teenagers on the Move During the Great by Errol Lincoln Uys

By Errol Lincoln Uys

Through the nice melancholy, greater than 250,000 teenagers left their houses and hopped freight trains crisscrossing the us. They have been searching for paintings and event; a few desired to go away their houses, and a few needed to. They grew up in rushing boxcars, residing in hobo jungles, begging at the streets, and working from the police and club-wielding railroad guards.

The stressed adolescence of those boxcar girls and boys, many that went from 'middle-class gentility to airborne dirt and dust terrible' in a single day, is recaptured in Riding the Rails: young children at the flow in the course of the nice Depression.This unforgettable narrative dispels the myths of a hobo life and divulges the not easy tales of a bold iteration of yank young children - forgotten heroes - who survived the various toughest occasions in our nation's history.

Drawn from 3,000 oral histories and illustrated with over fifty black and white photographs from the nationwide records and Library of Congress.

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I was on trains with families of migrants, mom, dad, and the children. When we stopped, the women would get off and go into stores like Piggly Wiggly. They took food off the counter, not a lot, just enough to feed the kids. ” 28 RIDING THE RAILS The National Youth Administration (NYA) provided fifty camps for five thousand young women and girls, for periods of three to four months. These camps offered job training and education. The girls earned their subsistence on work projects such as making visual aids for public schools and supplies for hospitals and state institutions, and working in tree nurseries of the Forest Service.

When two friends sent Leo a postcard from Los Angeles, the road beckoned. James San Jule’s father was a successful businessman in Tulsa, Oklahoma. James graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1929 at sixteen; he’d already been accepted at Amherst College in Massachusetts, and was planning to go on to Harvard Law School. Because of his youth, his father wanted him to wait a year and arranged for him to work as an office boy in the Exchange National Bank at Tulsa, where the father was on the board of directors.

Gene Wadsworth was seventeen, riding freights in California and Arizona. He teamed up with a boy he knew only as Jim. One freezing night, they were riding back-to-back on the ladders between boxcars. Recalled Wadsworth: “All of a sudden the train gave a jerk. I heard Jim let out a muffled moan as he fell. I whipped around and made a grab for him. I got his cap and a handful of blond hair. Jim was gone. Disappeared beneath the wheels. I felt so sick I had to climb up and lie on the catwalk. ” At Phoenix, Arizona, that same winter, thirty-five young men and boys were removed from boxcars, some in advanced stages of pneumonia.

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