Sunday, January 18, 2015

Plausible Zane Scarrey vs. Starbucks

Most of the so-called "deliberate hoboes" - those who left the regular world behind and hit the rails by choice - did not set forth without a head full of dreams.  Some dreamed of lives unfettered, walking and riding free from one interesting place to another and sleeping under a blanket of Arizona stars along the Union Pacific.  Others envisaged wandering for a while, seeing America, getting it all out of their system, and eventually finding a place to settle down and restart their lives.  A few dreamed of being discovered by a big-time Hollywood talent scout in search of a scruffy, disheveled man to play the heavy in the next Bogart flick.  [Note:  This only happened four times.]

One deliberate hobo, however, took a more modest approach to his dreaming.  They called him Plausible Zane Scarrey, because he kept his dreams plausible, and his name was Zane Scarrey.

He had fled the violence and futility of the Wisconsin Milk Strike in November 1933, and his only expectation for the future was to find a version of the Great Depression in which people were not shooting strangers over busted headlights and picket signs.  He made his way to the Illinois Central, then to the Santa Fe, and finally to the fabled rails of the Union Pacific in California.  He picked oranges and strawberries for pennies a week, and raisins for slightly less, and rarely stopped moving and/or working.

When he allowed himself the indulgence, he imagined that one day, he might get hired on full-time by one of the farmers he served.  That never happened.

He pictured a world in which his black hobo friends could illegally ride in the same unlocked rail car with his white hobo friends.  That happened, but not until the mid-fifties, a half-decade after Zane's death at the hands of mindless Indianapolis cops who had mistaken him for the Beech Grove Groper at the 1951 Indiana State Fair.

Once, when he was three sheets to the wind on hobo wine and grilled baked lint fritters, he imagined that he could land a job with the railroad.  He always got along with the train crews, and the yards cops (and their dogs) seemed to adore him.  Unfortunately, he was a cow-teat-puller by trade, so this never happened.

As his hobo years rolled on, he developed a skill with pot-brewed hobo coffee.  He dared, from time to time, to see a future world in which he started a humble coffee shop on a corner in downtown Fresno, and worked hard and made really good coffee and expanded to two locations, then three, then a hundred, then a thousand, until eventually his coffee shops sold indy music and sub-par sandwiches on every street corner in the USA (in some cases, on more than one corner of a given intersection, and in a few special spots, more than one in a given coffee shop).  

This happened, but Plausible Zane Scarrey didn't live to see it, and received no credit for the idea, because he hadn't deemed it plausible, and never told anyone he had thought of it.

He kept it plausible.  Imagine that.

This post prompted by the words ENVISAGE and IMAGINE, from the good folks at Studio 30 Plus.



  1. To think Sbux was a hobo invention. Learn something new every day. Laughed out loud several times while reading, hope Zane didn't mind. (Lint fritters?)

  2. He needed a good cuppa Joe (pun intended) to wash down the lint. Love your hobos, as always!