I have been asked many times about hobo relationships. Were there female hoboes? Did they date fellow hoboes? Did they ever marry? What were their weddings like? Where did they register? What did they do for honeymoons? Now that I think about it, I've never been asked any of those questions. But I have wondered why no one's been asking. There are plenty of stories of hobo love. Here's a peek at just one.
The October 1932 wedding of Maria the Pumpkin-Patch Crooner and Pierre Tin-Hat was lightly attended, because it was raining. Rufus Caboose was their officiant, because he "liked God stuff," and could talk fast enough to get through the ceremony before the hobo congregants had time to get bored and wander off. Given the average hobo's miniscule attention span, this was no small feat. He got to the vows, which the bride and groom had written themselves, within ninety seconds.
"I, Pierre Tin-Hat, take thee, Maria the Pumpkin-Patch Crooner as my wedded drifter wife. I promise to give you half of my beans and all of my heart. I will protect you from vermin and police dogs, and let you wear my coat. I will not harshly criticize your singing, or your constant, obsessive searching for pumpkin patches. I will not yell at you, and I promise to share you only with my very best friends. This is my more or less sober vow."
[Long pause, during which Maria the Pumpkin-Patch Crooner stared at her groom, tears welling in her eyes, as Pierre Tin-Hat grinned sheepishly at her.]
"I, Maria the Pumpkin-Patch Crooner, take thee, Pierre Tin-Heart, to be my partner, my best friend, my love. I promise to help you with your crippling inability to read hobo signs. I will chop firewood when you are weak, which everyone knows is always. I will listen to you better than you listen to me. I will stand watch while you relieve yourself, so no one sees you and makes fun. I will walk beside you and remind you to look both ways before crossing. I promise not to bring you to any of the hundreds of pumpkin patches I have, um, visited before with other men. I'm sure eventually we can find at least one to call our own. I will mend your trousers when there is thread. I will not light your whiskey on fire unless I'm terribly, terribly cold. I will bear you no children, unless we can find nothing else to eat. Ha ha ha. But seriously, I'm barren. What? I thought you knew that. Sorry. I also promise to read to you from what's left of my Bible. I choose you, Pierre, and I will walk the length of the Union Pacific with you as together we weather life's storms. Also, yes, I will finally sleep with you. But you just mind your manners, mister! Oh, and I love you. Amen."