Foraging

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Once upon a time—in my far distant youth—I travelled the rails. I rode boxcars. Always by myself, but once I met up with a man named Jake and he tried to teach me the ways of the professional hobo.

One night after hitting a small town in Texas, he took me out foraging for food.

To be concise and succinct about it, the foraging took the form of going to the back doors of houses and asking for a hand out. I had done the same thing on occasion, but my modus operandi consisted of going to a restaurant’s back door.

Anyway, Jake told the eighteen-year-old boy that I was at the time, “The best pickings are in the poor sections of town. You never get turned down. Next are middle class neighborhoods. You stand a fifty-fifty chance in that neck of the woods. Then last are the rich neighborhoods. Unless the cook answers the door you might as well forget about getting anything outta that house. Ain’t it funny that the people with nothing are willing to share what little they have while those with everything are afraid to part with even the slightest bit of what they have?”

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24 thoughts on “Foraging

  1. Interesting. When I was young we lived in a blue-collar neighborhood. My dad was a fireman. It was near a train track. If a hobo came to the door, my mother would tell him to go to the back door where the kitchen was and she’d always give him a sandwich. She’d known what it was to be poor. —- Suzanne

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  2. When I ran a non-profit, years ago. The average person supported us without too much question. When I had to write grants to be presented to corporations, we had so many hoops to jump through. You’d have thought I was asking for blood. We’d get our money most of the time but wow. Believe me, they had it to burn, too.

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    1. The average person supported you without too many questions because you have an honest face. The corporations could only see the paperwork. Maybe it was your handwriting.

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      1. So true. We are all guilty of thinking that way. There was a time in my life that I had absolutely nothing but the clothes on my back There were days that I ate nothing at all. But I was always happy. A little hungry and maybe a little tired, but always happy. Then I started to accumulate a little money and I found myself hoarding it and waiting more. It was only a few thousand dollars, but I was getting the sickness. So I gave some of it away and spent the rest fast — real fast. Since then I’ve made damn sure that I never had more than a few dollars saved at any one time.
        I have shelter for when it rains and I eat every day (so does my dog, Danny) — what else could a person want for? The computer I write these words on is a luxury that I could live without it. But to be quite honest, I wouldn’t want to.

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        1. I can relate a bit to that. I live in a dog house and the dogs just let me live there. 🙂 My house has no A/C (I don’t like A/C), but plenty of windows. It’s surrounded by natural woods, and nothing is as satisfying as the scent of 4’O’clocks and wild rose wafting through the windows. Except maybe waking up to a dog on each side of me.

          Money isn’t evil, it’s the love of money above all else that turns “live” into its opposite…”evil.” How can one truly live if more and more money is the focus?

          You reminded me that some of the happiest people I know don’t have much in the way of things, but an abundance of appreciation..

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      2. “Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” — Henry David Thoreau or as I like to refer to him, Hank.
        I’ve just been reading a little Billy Shakespeare and listening to Kris Kristofferson. Genius will tell out. What got to me this day was how they both spoke to having nothing. Billy said: “Having nothing, nothing can he lose.” And Kris wrote: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”
        Over one hundred and fifty years ago, Henry David Thoreau told his neighbors that they saved things—put them in their attics and there the stuff stayed until they died. Then their heirs sold the stuff and other people bought it and put it in their attics until they died. Etcetera . . . etcetera . . . etcetera.
        We accumulate so much crap and it never makes us happy. Here in America, we have a storage facility on every corner. We have so much stuff that we have to pay someone to hold it for us!

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      1. Don’t know about Mother McCree’s (love the name!), but definitely Billie…1941, I believe, in NY but I thought studio. Anyway, here’s an interesting tidbit: She was inspired to write it after an angry episode with her mother Sadie. Billie loaned a few thousand to Sadie so “Mom” could open a restaurant. When Billie found herself in need a few years later, she went to Mom, who refused to loan her any money. They fought – big surprise – and the anger Billie felt led to her writing that song. Another interesting part of that history, though, is the biblical verse that is “believed” to be the one that Billie based the opening lines of the song on….when I read the verse (Matthew 25:29), I was not sure I’d have interpreted it the same way; but maybe it’s more profound than I realize and she was more able to look more deeply into the words.

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