Sunday, May 26, 2019

1938 Hobo Problem

Railroad, Town Police Kept Busy; Wandering Laborers Complicate Problems; Thefts Jump 

DELMAR, Del., May 28 (Special). The question of what to do with hundreds of itinerant workers and hoboes who annually seem to use Delmar and the railroad yards here for "stop-over" headquarters and nearby woods haunts for "jungles" on their treks north and south during spring and summer, is confronting local and railroad police again, but Is just as far from being solved as ever.
The movement through the town of these Itinerants is heavier this year than ever before, according to police. Many of them are seasonal farm or cannery workers who do not frequent the hobo jungles, but due to conditions work is scarce and may of the better class of workers are driven to hobo tactics.

Six Arrested Daily As Average

Chief of Police Authur Godfrey of the Delmar, Maryland, police, Chief of Police Ralph Williams of the Delmar, Delaware, force, and Pennsylvania Railroad Police Capt. Oscar M. Thomas and Sergt, Miles E. Fitzgerald, stationed here, arrest an average of six tramps or hoboes each day and allow many more than that to pass through the town. Several of the men picked up so far this spring have been fugitives from other states, and two were Negros wanted in murders in Virginia, They were recognized not only by photographs but by fingerprints on file here.

Is "Natural” For "Jungles”

Railroad police say Delmar is a "natural spot" for hoboes due to the stopping of all passenger and freight trains going north and south on the Delmarva Division, and to the changing of train crews and the dispatching of running orders from Delmar offices. This enables the train riders to leave the trains While they are slowing down for the yards or to board them for distant and larger cities.

25 Sometimes In Jungle

Each night the "jungles." one located just north and the other a mile south of the town limits, contain often as many a 25 men, white and Negro, sitting around blazing fires recounting their adventures, travels, or swapping provisions they have begged. Almost all of the men are penniless and possess only the bare necessities of life, such as threadbare clothing and shoes, a razor, and a nearly empty tobacco sack. Police say that it is a rare thing for any of the men arrested or searched to be carrying identification papers of any kind.

Town authorities say that if the scores of transients merely used the yards as a stop-over or rest, there would be no menace. But each spring and summer there is a wave of petty robberies and other misdemeanors within the town that are directly traceable to the transients.

Many Thefts From Railway

The theft of food and small freight packages from the cars is increasing. Much wooded railroad property has been seriously damaged by fire, not only in this section but along the entire division.
 Not the least of the complaints from the fact that several of the transienst are either killed or  severely injured each season within railroad property, and the railroad must pay hospital and burial expenses.

The trainsmen deny the often repeated stories or brutality against the "hoboes' but say that they only fight them when endangered.

above from The News Journal 28 May 1938

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