Friday, July 15, 2011

Chapter 5 : The Royal Gorge Route by Rudy Phillips

Rudy Phillips was a depression era hobo who rode the rails from 1925-32 & was crowned "King of the Hobo's " in Britt,Iowa at the Hobo Convention. He was a good friend of mine and I miss him dearly. I decided as an honor to Rudy I would print a chapter from his book "Hobo King Rambling Rudy" here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it and I'll be putting a new page or two up each day this week to the conclusion of this particular story. Enjoy this true tale of crime adventure!

The Royal Gorge Route:

A few days of the Salt Lake City Mission swill and Rudy was restored to his former self. His reluctant host was the City flop house on the West side of Town. The time was passed by walking the streets of skid row or accosting anyone looking congenial. In this way the lad kept a little money on him at all times in case of an emergency. He marveled at the fact there was a water fountain on practically every street corner after almost perishing on the parched, lonely desert from the lack of it.But ultimately, the distant whistle of an East bound freight train summoned him to its embrace.

Rudy sat perched atop a boxcar of the slow freight as it wound its way through the mountains. The amazingly scenic "Royal Gorge Route" was enjoyable with its many tunnels and 1000 foot cliffs. It was the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Occasionally far below, he would catch a glimpse of a river as it wound its way through a canyon.

Rudy had to leave the train at Soldiers Summit, Utah. His visit there was a brief one because the authorities and local citizenry were animus. They advised him that his talents could possibly be plied better somewhere else; say St. Louis or Chicago.Yes, there was overt hostility from the people towards the poor hobos. So, being the agreeable sort he was, Rudy capitulated and stayed close to home, the jungle.

He sought out a fire and went over to get warm. While there he struck up an acquaintance with a young black boy, who was about his age, as they stood around trying to keep warm. The youngster introduced himself as Chi. He was of slight build, had a quick wit and a smart mouth, which at times he confessed, had caused grievous social disharmony amongst the brethen. Rudy judged him to be around fifteen or sixteen.

"They don't like colored folk none around here" he was saying, "so I think it would be a lot mo' healthier fo' me ta hop on the next freight outta here".

Rudy diverted his concentration from the entrancing flames to Chi. "I don't figure they care much for hobos neither" he interjected, "so I'm clearing out too as soon as I can. Folks around here ain't too awful friendly to us bo's".

I'm tolerable hungry "Chi continued after the short unsolicited interruption: his train of thought remaining stedfast, "and they ain't narry a sally or mission around these parts nowheres." He placed his hands inside the side pockets of his dark brown overcoat. "No sir, a man don'stand a chance in a hard place such as this." Bitterness hung heavy on each word.

"Where you from anyhow?" Rudy asked, just making conversation to kill time.
"Chicago, how about chu?"
"St. Louey."
" Looks like we is neighbors." Chi said with a broad smile revealing pearly white teeth.
"Sure does don't it."
"Well tell ya what, when we get ta Chi town ah'll show ya round. Then mebe you can show me' round St. Louey sometime. Is 'at a deal?"
"Sounds fair ta me" said Rudy extending his open hand.