Thursday, May 13, 2010

Secret hobo code

When the William Wellman film, Beggars of Life, was released in 1928, some of the publicity materials focused on hobo culture. The film was based on a book of the same name by Jim Tully, which tells of his days as a hobo among the wandering down-and-out of America. In the film, Brooks plays a young women who dresses as a young man and goes on the run. And for a time, she hangs out in what was then termed a "hobo jungle."

Articles about the film at the time contained mini-dictionaries of hobo terms and slang. This publicity photo, which is currently for sale on eBay, depicts the actress in character holding a coded message - the snipe (or descriptive text) on the back of the picture states the sign  notes the approaching town has a police force hostile towards vagrants.

1 comment:

  1. this is really fascinating! The kids' film Kit Kittredge touches on this "code," but I didn't know if it really existed...

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