OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA100-word Flash Fiction

This week’s story is inspired by this photograph provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw today’s photo was a song (Hobo Joe) I wrote a few years ago about the late great folk singer Woodie Guthrie. So here’s a story inspired by that song.

The fire dwindled.

The heel of bread in Joe’s pocket could wait until tomorrow. He hummed a new refrain, strumming C’s and G’s.

The boys were gonna jump the cow crate first thing tomorrow. Rumors said there was work a hundred miles down the track. Joe would be there. Each penny earned went to the family. No charity for Joe.

If the rumors were false, he could always play his battered guitar or paint signs.

He sang several verses about surviving and self-respect. The boys quietly nodded their heads. They might be hobos, but they weren’t vagrants or tramps.



24 thoughts on “#FF: Dust bowl troubadour

  1. Nice story. I like the last sentence in particular – they have their pride, they’re working for their keep. I also like their optimism – if one sort of work’s not available, they’ll do something else.

  2. Lovely sense of place and character here, especially in that last line. Self-respect can’t be easy to keep in the circumstances, but valuable all the same.

  3. Dear Caerlynn,

    You have touched gently on a character trait that seems to have vanished from the scenes in America these days. Quiet dignity and self reliance must not make for good soundbites. This was a good story that harked back to a time many of us have a hard time imagining. Well done.



  4. “His ear heard more than what was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.”
    ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

    I’m on a Steinbeck kick today. I like the gentle humanity in this piece.
    Be well,

  5. One has to admire their optimism, and it shows that those who do not live that life can have a narrow opinion. They still have self-respect.
    A well written story, and I enjoyed this very much so!

  6. Good story, Caerlynn. You took us back to a time when there were many hobos because of the terrible conditions in the country. I wrote of hobos also, but in a more modern time. I remember those of the late 1940’s who came to our door for food. My mother always gave them sandwiches and they were always polite. Well done. 🙂 — Suzanne

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