Friday, April 3, 2015

Hobo Jungles, Homeless Camps, Hoovervilles And FEMA Camps (w/pics)

We’ve probably all seen old photos on TV, in magazines or on the internet of the old “hobo jungles” and “Hoovervilles” of the Great Depression. To my understanding, the hobo jungles were generally along or near-to railroad tracks, the main form of mass transit for the 1930’s working man on the move. Bums hopped freights, too, but they weren’t looking for work. The jungles were usually constructed of blankets, tarps, junk tin and old boards. They served as a way for the poorest of the poor to get at least partly out of the elements. It wasn’t uncommon back then for the railroad “bulls” or the local law to crack a few heads and burn such jungles on occasion to “better the community.” Some of the inhabitants were never seen again, but who wept for hobos?

Hoovervilles were named after the president who was blamed (unfairly) for the bad economy, and were usually located near the less populated edge of a town. They tended to be a little more substantial than the jungles, and were mostly made up of families who had no other place to live. Even the tiniest of one-room shacks or tents were better than a blanket stretched over a tree limb. Hoovervilles also suffered raids from the “civic-minded” folks who wanted to better the community by persecuting the poor, but it wasn’t generally as bad, or as common, since there were women and children present. Even tyrants are sometimes concerned about bad press.

These days, the hobo of old is mostly gone. It’s rare to see a guy riding a freight, though I have seen a few in my time. Most of the poor have a way to get at least a little help from government or private charities these days, so far fewer are looking for work. The hobo jungles have given way to what might more accurately be called “homeless camps.” Still, most of the residents are men. Sometimes, they are still subject to police harassment and their huts, tents and possessions destroyed.

The Hoovervilles don’t seem to have been replaced, except in a few areas of the Southwest. Instead, families are camping in tents on the land of friends or relatives or in campgrounds, or living in automobiles or tiny campers, vans or, more rarely, small shanties. It’s usually a family by family thing these days, rather than multiple families forming small villages. Even so, there are always a few “good respectable folks” who are offended by someone letting friends or relatives live in their backyard, and complain to the zoning and “safety” arms of our bloated bureaucracy.

Hitler first explained the gathering of people into his concentration camps by saying it was for their protection. Then he added those who needed to be prevented from engaging in petty crime. We know where it went from there. Remember how the FEMA camps that were supposedly built to help flood victims? They’re now putting homeless people in them in one or two areas of the country. Of course, it’s to “protect them from the elements and themselves.” Incidentally it’s “voluntary,” with the other option being arrest.

Here's a camp in my hometown.

The main camp is to the left, with a little satellite camp to the right; there may be other satellites that I can't see. I DO know that there are other shelters in the area that are set up by themselves. Click to enlarge image.

Here's a better view of the main camp. I counted at least nine shelters.

Here's a slightly better view of the satellite camp. I counted at least four shelters there. The one to the right is larger and more substantial than it appears, and has a stovepipe coming out one end of the tent.

The little homeless camp that I show here today can’t be seen during the summer months. It lies near a busy bridge, and is less than 100 feet from the Little Kanawha River. Will the people there eventually be offered the same “help” as the ones in the FEMA camps? If they disappear, will anyone notice? More importantly, will anyone care? © 2015


Sunnybrook Farm said...

I am puzzled as to how people can live like that and how every night on TV there is a different group begging for money or food for some cause that will help the hungry or homeless. The reason I am so puzzled is that the government has been fighting poverty for 50 years and we are at least 18 Trillion in debt and nothing has changed only the rich got richer.

Gorges Smythe said...

Jesus told us that the poor would always be with us. I suppose the rich will also, SF.

Mamahen said...

Heartbreaking !!!

JaneofVirginia said...

Excellent post, Gorges. Very insightful. They say that most of us are nine meals from being desperate. This makes more and more sense to me as I grow.

Gorges Smythe said...

Yes it is, Mh.

I think you're right, Jane.