The Hobo Family

During the Great Depression, Maddy Skobel, my main character in Line by Line, reacts to her first real Thanksgiving dinner.  Maddy is a hobo who has been welcomed into the home of Phillipe and Francine Durrand: That afternoon, as I watched Phillipe carve a whole turkey, I thought about families.  In New Harmony, my family’s Thanksgiving Day never looked like the illustrations in Harper’s Weekly or the Saturday Evening Post. . .  I had never been part of a dinner where just one big, plump, stuffed and roasted golden brown turkey with drumsticks was brought to the table whole and served at one time. I thought about how there were two kinds of families: the ones made up of people related by blood, which you’re automatically part of, like it or not, and the families you choose for yourself.  Today Francine and Phillipe chose to include me.  I knew I was lucky, because there was a very large hobo family out there that didn’t have enough to eat. Because Maddy was a hobo, I needed to research how hobos lived—and survived—the Great Depression.  That quest took me to Britt, Iowa, where the National Hobo Convention has convened each August for…

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