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Riding the Rails: Hobo Kids During Great Depression

The decline in stock production in market in October 1929, which was accompanied by calamity, resulted in numerous Americans suffering from economic declines. Millions of people ended up losing their job, which was associated with a reduction of their incomes. Moreover, this led to a reduction of learning period in schools or the institutions opting to close. In the year 1933, a population of over twelve million people was misemployed, which was a range of 25% of the US working force, and thousands of students dropped out of schools (MrNoTrash). Young individuals between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five were particularly hard hit, with many finding themselves out of work. On the supposition that there was no possibility of things returning to normal, individuals began to engage in rail jumping and boarded trains in which they would travel to different regions of states, not paying for the ride. Most of the individuals involved searched for better job opportunities to send money to feed their families, while others were out for an adventure. In search of a better lifestyle along the journey, they experienced hunger, adventure, danger, boredom, and hardship.

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Factors That Influenced the Riding on the Rails

The act of hopping and riding on top of the trains was a new experience to the concerned individuals, especially the youth, as they were driven by the depression they were trying to conquer. For many individuals, California was always the location in which they could engage in agriculture. However, due to falling revenue in California, nonresidents were forced out of the municipality. The decision was influenced by the fact the state was also suffering from economic adjustability hence could not afford to take care of other people (MrNoTrash). Strict measures were governed to discourage the transients from jumping off the train in their town, of which people would be arrested or sentenced to twenty days in jail. On the contrary, if they managed to secure a job for themselves, they were forced to work extremely hard, and the payments they received were minimal. Another contributor to the growth of transients was the drought experienced in southern America. Four million individuals were forced out of their residences in search of a better life at other places.

Dangers on the Rails

Several hazards were intertwined with the riding of the rail. Individuals who hopped on trains were likely to be arrested if railroad security guards caught them. Their arrestation was perpetrated by that the railroad reporting of the thefts and train damages. Thus this will lead to any young person found hanging on the train yards attestation on charges of vagrancy (MrNoTrash). Sometimes those captured in the train yards will be beaten by the local police. Other municipalities will take advantage of the arrested transient for free labor while some impose thirty days in jail. The riders will be forced to catch trains at the end of the yards as these particular areas were not closely supervised. However, in some situations, the bulls will disguise as transient as to get hold of the trespassers.

The other common rail hazard was people being thrown from the train by sudden turns and train wrecks. Moreover, they also experience a situation whereby the train tunnels would fill with coal smoke that could suffocate those who were riding the train from outside as they would be caught unaware. These two events are hazardous to the lives of those partaking in riding the train. Another form of risk they anticipated was assault, where many would be left injured or killed due to the train wrecks (MrNoTrash). There was also a lack of food which led to them starving for several days before arriving at their destination. This kind of situation would force the transient to work on lower wages to get food. Often, the victims experienced an intense emotional state as they appeared to be gloomy or in deep thoughts.

The reason to analyze the article was influenced by the fact that riding on the rails was not an adventure. The individuals who participated were those, who were left with few choices to survive. Thus, it would be better to know the factors that made people to move from their residential area and crossover to another country. Despite that, the journey on riding rails was not that enticing as they experienced challenges such as being beaten by bullies on the rails, getting thrown out of the train and at times they will experience smoke from the train that could lead them suffocating (MrNoTrash). The issue is that, life for these individuals was so difficult that they were willing to do anything to survive from the crucial situations. From the narrative analysis, it has been depicted that the two identical factors that mileage to the people decision was depression and famine.

Several individuals complain about lack of employment, hence the shifting over to find a better environment that could offer their needs. They were identified as fighting trauma in the face of a lack of jobs and famine which had hit the region. Large masses of individuals were suffering from poverty; hence, they were motivated to change their status. The country was also experiencing low employment rates, therefore opting for a better serene environment. The journey to better lives, quality, and work has not seized as it is evident as people shift from their own countries in search of better lifestyles. For instance, the refugees who seek residential in other countries in search of safety and several individuals in different localities and are not citizens of those countries. Thus, it can be argued that, for these individuals, seeking better lives is all they could think of, and thus, they were willing to make it out in every step to achieve this.

Work Cited

MrNoTrash. “Riding The Rails: Hobo Kids During Great Depression. 2/5”. YouTube, uploaded by MrNoTrash, 2013, Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2023, January 23). Riding the Rails: Hobo Kids During Great Depression. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/riding-the-rails-hobo-kids-during-great-depression/

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