Lamenting the hobo
I don't know whether it is because of, or in spite of, the fact I've lived in the same town my whole life, but I have a yearning, burning urge to wander.
The good news is that I have seen 47 of the 50 United States, some of them on what used to be called the blue highways.
But every now and then, usually on Friday nights when I am driving east on I-640 near Broadway, I will see a freight train. And wish I could hop aboard just like in the movies, a modern-day Jimmie Rodgers, riding the rails.
I've always loved trains. Most boys do, for whatever reason. As I mentioned yesterday, I first entered Manhattan by rail. I would travel that way exclusively if I could.
But those days are long, long gone, unless I move to the Northeast.
It all started when I was three or four. My dad bought me a model train set of the Chattanooga Choo Choo. It even came with some kind of liquid that would produce smoke from the engine's chimney. I'd dream about being an engineer. Or a brakeman. Or, hell I'll say it, a hobo.
It got worse the first time I heard Jimmie Rodgers. Somebody -- I think it was one of my grandfathers -- had some Rodgers hobo songs on 78s. Later, I heard Merle Haggard, and then Dolly, Emmylou and Linda, sing Jimmie's "Hobo's Meditation."
Tonight as I lay on the boxcar, just waiting for a train to pass by;
What will become of the hobo whenever his time comes to die?
At Clear Springs Baptist Church, I heard "Life's Railway to Heaven" and figured that's where the hobo was ultimately headed. That's the way I wanted to go, I'll tell you for sure.
The itch endures. If I could, I'd take off tomorrow and ride every line that Amtrak serves. Oh, I'd pay for a ticket, of course, which is why this will remain a dream, at least for now.
But I admire the hobo of yesteryear. It's easy, you see, for it to seem romantic from the comfort of one's easy chair.
I love the television series "The Fugitive." I always perked up when David Janssen's Dr. Richard Kimble would hop a freight. In a couple of episodes at least, such an action comes back to haunt the good doctor.
As it is, I sit here in Halls, dreaming my dreams, living vicariously through shows and songs, lamenting the life of the hobo.
There's a Master up yonder in Heaven; got a place that we might call our home.
Will we have to work for a living? Or can we continue to roam?