What is a Hobo?

Edward Kearns

Edward Kearns

Hobo: noun; a disreputable vagrant; “a homeless tramp.”

Hobos have become an almost mythological figure in western history, sometimes vilified by the media and police as traveling criminals. In fact, hobos are a part of an American subculture. They have their own language, traditions and code of conduct.

It is almost impossible to visually tell who is a hobo and who isn’t. They do not dress in a specific manner or wear a uniform. But there are certain items of clothing that are seen as important in this subculture.

Many hobos wear hats and ball caps. These hats can be their favorite sporting team, and still others say nothing at all. Each and every hat the hobo wears tells something about the hobo.

Hobos may also prefer wearing long-sleeved shirts and denim pants. Some find it odd that homeless people could be picky about their clothing, but the life of a hobo is one spent on the road. The clothes they wear must withstand the travel and work that a hobo will do throughout the year.

Yes, hobos do work. Most hobos have been traveling the same route for years, and know exactly where to find work. Day labor offices provide plenty of work for hobos.