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Ready when the westbound calls

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BRITT - Mama Jo has a tombstone in the  Hobo Cemetery in Britt but she's not dead yet.

She's just prepared. "I'm gonna catch the westbound at 110 years old," Mama Jo said. "I'm not ready to get in it (grave) yet."

Mama Jo was born in 1940, her tombstone said, so she's prepared for at least 35 years.

Mama Jo is in Britt for the National Hobo Convention and Hobo Days which started with a cemetery tour Wednesday night and ends Sunday. She hasn't been at the convention in five years. 

"It's good to be home in Britt," Mama Jo said.

The tombstone also includes the name of her husband Hobo Santa, who looks like Santa, but, he and Mama Jo live in Florida. Mama Jo brought her friend New York Jackie who hasn't been at a convention.

The two have stayed at campgrounds as they traveled in a recreational vehicle to Britt.

"Wherever she goes, she talks about hobos," New York Jackie said.

On this trip she gathered kids around a campfire to roast marshmallows  as she talked about Britt, the convention and the hobo life.

Mama Jo was the National Hobo Queen in 2003.  Her title entitles her to be buried for free in the hobo cemetery.

Mama Jo insisted on paying for her tombstone and her funeral in advance. She applied her free burial to her friend and fellow hobo Liberty Justice.

Liberty Justice caught the westbound, or died, several years ago.

Liberty Justice is buried to Mama Jo's right when facing east. Another friend Whittler is buried to her left. Both men insisted Mama Jo be buried between them.

When Mama Jo and Hobo Santa do catch the westbound they will be cremated. Their ashes will be buried in the same grave, Mama Jo said.

Such preparation will make it easier for their children, Mama Jo said.

Again, she doesn't plan on catching the westbound for quite some time, but she has done some grave site related activity.

Several years ago, she and Collinwood, danced on her grave.


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