Hobos of the 1930’s had primitive symbols scribbled in perhaps charcoal, chalk or whatever else was available. They fashioned directions and information onto posts, boards and whatever else was at hand; a precursor, perhaps, of today’s text messaging. One of their signs was a simple cat, which meant “a kind lady is here”. These signs showed hobos houses where food would be shared by the kind lady there.
I first learned of hobo signs from a good friend who remembered her grandmother being known as a kind woman who would share food for those in need at her back door. My friend’s grandmother didn’t live in a rural area, but, rather in a suburban home. In the Great Depression, there were many in need, everywhere. Food was scarce and those who shared what they had were appreciated.
In a year of celebrating our garden club’s 90th anniversary, we are marking each meeting by revisiting a decade. Monday’s decade was the 1930’s. We used this hobo sign in the entryway of the Wilder Mansion, where our garden club holds their monthly meetings. Teri kindly drew it, copying a sign shown on a website. Teri is an incredible artist and was the one who made the fabulous dishes and pottery I shared from the Elmhurst Garden Walk. In this endeavor, however, we needed something very basic. This was drawn on a piece of cardboard, which was fitting, as was the Soup Line sign.
Our hostesses for October made a fabulous buffet of the kinds of food that would have been eaten during the 1930’s. The overlying theme was a soup kitchen. The food was tasty and nourishing, as it always is at our club’s meeting.
Wee were setting everything out, as women do, when we noticed the strains of a guitar. We looked at each other. “Who arranged for that?” It was a wee bit loud, but, sounded good and helped hurry us about in finishing up our preparations, for hungry women were waiting, with their own bowls in hand. Some brought bowls, others brought tin cups, Mason jars, there was even a Mickey Mouse bowl, for rumor had it that Mickey was popular in the ’30s.
We asked and were asked who the musician was, and, dear reader, this is where art imitates life, or some such thing. The troubadour, a handsome young man, walked into the mansion and asked if he could play for awhile. The powers-that-be let him, and so he played, then, was offered some food, which he heartily ate before packing up his guitar and going on his way.
I think the sign was “spot on”, Monday. Kind ladies were, indeed, there.