BRITT | The usual jovial nature of the hobos subsided Friday morning as more than 50 gathered to honor and remember their friends and family who have “caught the westbound.”
Silently walking in a circle, hobos tapped their sticks on the gravestones of the deceased buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Britt, while Cannonball Paul read their names and others observed.
“This is to my darling granddaughter Angelina,” said Minneapolis Jewel reading from a letter she wrote to her 16-year-old deceased granddaughter Angie Dirty Feet. “Just for the record you are and were loved by many. Take a look around here for yourself.”
Angie Dirty Feet, who died in June, had been attending the National Hobo Convention since she was 4.
Minneapolis Jewel described her granddaughter as “headstrong,” “spitfire,” and “brave.” She also explained to those in attendance how Angie got her hobo name.
“She’d run around barefooted chasing grasshoppers and toads along the railroad tracks, and I think it was Tuck and Stretch who said, ‘Look at them dirty feet,’” she said. “Of course, she turned into a teenager, and oh, she did not like that name.”
But Minneapolis Jewel said she knows Angie was “pretty proud” to be a hobo.
“Angie never judged anyone and was open to all people,” she said.
Minneapolis Jewel thanked her hobo family for its love and support the past two months as she’s grieved the death of Angie and undergone some medical procedures.
Both Angie Dirty Feet and Adman died within the past year and were specifically remembered during the Hobo Memorial Service.
“There’s a renowned meeting hall in Britt called the Hob Nob, and a few years ago, a bunch of us were gathered there and a man came up who knew Adman’s business acumen and background and he came up to Adman and said, ‘What are you doing here?’” said Minneapolis Skinny. “Adman had a beautiful answer and it really summed up the reason we’re here today. He replied the hobo is America’s gift to history. Ordinary men and women who chose to live extraordinary lifestyles to be the last free man, and that sums it up beautifully doesn’t it?”
Other hobos who were specifically named were Rebel, who died of cancer this summer; Dougie Fresh, who died after a heart attack in June; and Great Northern Lady remembered her husband, Hobo Charlie Brown, who died last September.
“He was a storyteller and he loved everybody in Britt. I miss him greatly,” she said. “He loved coming out here and getting together with his hobo family.”
Hobo Charlie Brown was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016, Great Northern Lady said. She, too, thanked the hobos for their support.
The ceremony also included music by Chuck Hobo who sang during the burial of Angie Dirty Feet’s ashes.
During her burial, individuals were invited to place a handful of dirt back into the hole. Tears ran down many of their faces as they grabbed the dirt and threw it into the hole after touching the box with their stick.
The National Hobo Convention continues on Saturday and Sunday in Britt.