Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shirley Temple Hobo Movie

Our friend Jill Stevens told Dr. Theresa and me about her hometown's railroad festival practically as soon as we moved to Oxford, and we've been talking about going to the Amory Railroad Festival ever since. It's finally happening. Jill said she can't make it but her kids will be there. Every year we talk about going with Jill and every year for some reason we can't make it. UNTIL NOW! This is how long we've been talking about it: Jill didn't have any kids when we were first discussing it, and now she has two! Two kids old enough to go to a railroad festival! When Jill was a girl the festival was centered on hobo culture and hoboes came from all over the U.S. to participate. Hobo culture still seems to play a part in the festival, though it can't possibly be as exciting as when Jill was a girl and Steam Train, the official King of the Hoboes, would come each year and speak to her enthralled class. Megan Abbott hasn't been talking about going to the railroad festival quite as long as we have, just since my birthday party in 2009, where the subject came up. When Jimmy and Megan and I were at a bar not too long ago, I said, "You know, John Hodgman is interested in hoboes." "But is he interested IRONICALLY?" Megan asked in an accusatory tone. "Irony is the enemy," she went on, which both Jimmy and I misheard as "He is the enemy," meaning Hodgman. But that's not what she said! Well, I made a "hobo mix tape" for the car. Jimmy's coming with us! I'll take up this "post" upon our return. Okay, we're back! On the way, Megan said, "Shirley Temple should have made a hobo movie." Then we stopped at a gas station for directions because we thought we were lost even though we weren't. Next to the gas station, a used bookstore was going out of business. Megan walked in and nabbed a copy of Shirley Temple's autobiography. I got a "Harlequin Medical Romance" entitled THE BROODING DOC'S REDEMPTION. The first sentence of THE BROODING DOC'S REDEMPTION is "This was ridiculous." We had a great time at the festival. I was famished upon arrival. Jimmy and I availed ourselves of rib sandwiches (pictured). The bones were still in the ribs, a problem I believe I have encountered in rib sandwiches before: how can you eat a sandwich with a bone in it? And yet, as Fitzgerald said, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly to rib sandwiches with the bones in them." Dr. Theresa and Megan had catfish, piping hot from the fryer and perfectly seasoned. They accidentally gave Dr. Theresa two catfish sandwiches and refused to take payment for the extra. Friends, I devoured that bonus catfish sandwich. Both sandwiches, may it be said, were of the most basic variety imaginable: bread and meat; bread and fish. Nothing else. The Earl of Sandwich would have been proud to see his original intentions so purely honored. Then we walked over to where Jill had said the hoboes would be, and there they were. We didn't know what to do, really. They seemed to be having a fine time just talking among themselves and it seemed rude to interrupt. Later we speculated that if Jill had been there she would have guided us in the proper etiquette. As it was, we passed silently by the campfire. "Numbers are dwindling," the festival's Official Program says of hobo participation. "Many of the original hobos have since 'caught the westbound,' which is to say they have passed away." Then there was a list of some of the hoboes expected to attend, including Mad Mary and Double Bob.