Sunday, November 25, 2012

Teary-Eyed Fingal

Another on a long list of misunderstood hoboes was a hard-hearted vagabond named Teary-Eyed Fingal.  He claimed that nothing made him cry.  As a teenager, he had worked alongside his father at a Bethlehem Steel mill in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  His father suffered a massive heart attack on the job, and died in his arms.  He was fired for staying with his lifeless old man and refusing to immediately return to his post.  He had not cried, that day. 

He had not cried when his daughter was born, nor when his wife took the child and disappeared, leaving a note that read simply, "Goodbye - don't look for us."  He hit the road and lived day-to-day with no regrets.

Hobo names were like herpes, so Teary-Eyed Fingal was stuck with his, despite his stony demeanor.  The reason was simple.  There wasn't much that happened on any given day that didn't make his eyes water.  

He could walk around during a spring rainstorm, and the pollen would find his eyes.  He could stomp through a dead, snow-covered field and the dry air would sting his eyes, and the tears would fall.  He had even seen the mill doctor, years ago, who had come up empty.  

Here are some other things that would make Teary-Eyed Fingal go all teary-eyed:

Baseball scores.
Getting boils lanced.
Sending telegrams to his mother in the nursing home.
Staring at the sun.
Coal dust.
The headlamps of the Norfolk & Western J-Class locomotives.
Sleeping too long.
Not sleeping long enough.
Wool coats.
Reading hobo hieroglyphs on telegraph poles.
Hearing the news that President Harding had died.
Removing his shoes.
Bending over.
The sight of a flock of starlings in flight.
The end of the Great War.
Gloves, especially gloves with the fingers cut out.

No wonder his eyes were teary.                

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