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  • Tales of a Depression Era Hobo

    Horace Hampton, a former Depression-era hobo, recounts his experiences of life on the road. W. P. Scott, retired University of Georgia professor, also comments on the challenging history of seeking work in America. 

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. Compare and contrast the economic impacts of the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of the 2000s.

    2. Imagine you are a grown adult with a family to feed. To what extent would you go to obtain a job?

    3. In 1932, the average weekly wages of those who had jobs was $16.21. Adjusted for inflation, this translates to about $270 in 2017. Imagine you are now earning $270 per week and create a weekly budget for yourself. Explain what aspects you're willing to spend more money on and what you're willing to give up. 

    Expansion

    1. If you decided to hit the road, think of a name that would describe you without giving away your real name. What does this name say about you?

    2. Research the various signs hoboes used to tell how someone in that home or business treated them. Make up signs of your own that could be used in instant messaging to convey a certain feeling or message. Address what these would be and their meanings. 

    Vocabulary

    hobo: one who wanders from place to place looking for jobs; a migrant worker
    tramp: someone traveling by foot who depends on occasional jobs or begs for money or food
    jungle: hobo camp—where hoboes slept outside and ate what they could
    gimpy stiff: a hobo who hobbled because they had lost a leg getting on or off a freight train
    materiel: military arms, ammunition, and general equipment used in war

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. Compare and contrast the economic impacts of the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of the 2000s.
    The Great Depression and the Great Recession were similar in the sense that many people lost their jobs and went bankrupt. The stock market plummeted and many people and companies experienced financial turmoil. During the Great Depression, however, there were no government welfare programs available to help people get access to basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter. 

    2. Imagine you are a grown adult with a family to feed during the 1930s. To what extent would you go to obtain a job? 
    Student answers will vary. 

    3. In 1932, the average weekly wages of those who had jobs was $16.21. Adjusted for inflation, this translates to about $270 in 2017. Imagine you are now earning $270 per week and create a weekly budget for yourself. Explain what aspects you're willing to spend more money on and what you're willing to give up. 
    Student answers will vary. Students should consider the cost of living in a particular place, food, clothing, transportation expenses, and leisure activities. 

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    External Resources