Hobo by Eddy Joe Cotton
A Young Man's Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America

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With an arresting mix of homespun wisdom, gritty realism, and poignant self-examination, and set against the backdrop of a young man’s coming of age, Hobo is a modern examination of one of America’s oldest and most revered folk heroes.

A free spirit, Zebu Recchia’s mother set out on her own when her son was only two years old. Left behind, the tight family unit of father and son grew up to be more like brothers than parent and child. Such an intense relationship created struggles and pain—but also a form of independence that gave both men the mettle to face life alone when necessary. When Zebu was nineteen, he left behind his “hippie on a Harley” father in a brickyard on a cold winter day in Denver, Colorado, and set out with three things he knew he could rely on: strong boots, a warm coat, and a will to roam.

He took off down the road at sunset with his thumb out and a keen desire to see the world on his own terms. His goal was to end up in Mexico. It had always been his father’s mecca of personal freedom and absolute beauty, and so it became his, too. When Zebu jumped his first train, he was forever changed. His passion for the rails and the hobo way of life transformed him into Eddy Joe Cotton, a young hobo-in-training.

Crisscrossing the countryside with a motley band of companions and mentors, Eddy Joe learns both the dark and the beautiful sides of life on the road. Always headed vaguely toward Mexico, Eddy Joe slowly realizes that the experience of the journey is far more important than the thrill of reaching the destination.

Hobo is a celebration of the cultural and historical significance of the hobo in American society. It’s also the story of what Eddy Joe learned on the rails, and of the fascinating, worldly-wise men who became his teachers. Eddy Joe Cotton paints a multilayered portrait of this strangely enduring lifestyle—of the men who ride the trains, the tricks of the trade, the vocabulary they use, the places they camp, the train yards they avoid, the gear they are sure to carry, and the stories and lessons each one imparts. Told in Eddy Joe’s infectious and original voice, Hobo is a heartfelt exploration of a fascinating subculture, and of one man’s place in a world that has all but been forgotten.

About Eddy Joe Cotton

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Eddy Joe Cotton has ridden the rails for close to a decade. A writer and artist in his late twenties, he is also the leader of a hobo jug band and vaudeville sideshow called the Yard Dogs Road Show, which travels the country but is based in San Francisco. This is his first book.
Published January 1, 2002 by Harmony Books. 285 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Action & Adventure. Non-fiction

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He’s been riding the rails, hitchhiking, and otherwise making his way around America for the last decade, having taken up this way of life after one argument too many with a similarly freewheeling father who crossed the country on a motorcycle many times back in the glorious 1960s, “when everyone...

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Full of Kerouacian philosophizing and Beat lingo, the work chronicles Cotton's first three weeks away from home, beginning with his decision to ride the rails and head to Mexico after meeting "Half Step," a hobo who earned the nickname by falling off a freight train and losing four toes.

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