NPR logo Hoo Boy! A Hamlet Full Of Hobos

Hoo Boy! A Hamlet Full Of Hobos

Two hobos walking the rails. Library of Congress hide caption

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Library of Congress

Two hobos walking the rails.

Library of Congress

The streets of America today are lined with — politically incorrectly speaking — hobos, tramps and bums who are out of work, out of luck, out of money, out of hope.

But what exactly is the difference between a hobo, a tramp and a bum?

For one thing: Hobos hold an annual gathering in Britt, Iowa.

This year's National Hobo Convention will be held this week. There will be hobo poetry, a hobo parade, the coronation of a Hobo King and Queen, and more.

We asked Linda Hughes of the Hobo Foundation if anyone has ever suggested that the word "hobo" might be inappropriate or pejorative?

"No one has ever challenged our hobo convention," Linda Hughes says. "We are proud to have the National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa, as a hobo is one who travels and works. A tramp just travels, and a bum does neither. Don't get the three confused."

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