View Single Post
Old 01-21-2015, 05:38 PM   #1
Senior Member
TheOldMan's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 202
Default One Retired Hobo

Did a search and glad to see that we've got some threads on Hobos.

What do Hobos do when they retire?

If they ever retire?

One One Hobo of interest was Hubcap Willie McDavid, who retired to live as a desert hermit outside of Palm Springs California.

Hubcap Willie was the subject of an early 1962 photo essay in Life Magazine.

From Life magazine, April 6, 1962, pp. 107-112

"Serenity on $400 a Year"

Furious at paying out hard-earned money in taxes? Feeling trapped on a treadmill, scrambling for money to buy more posessions? Fed up with the frantic struggle to make enough to have a good time?

Have a look at a roadside Thoreau named Willie ("Hubcap") McDavid, age 67, one of the relatively few Americans who have genuinely retired from the money race.

Willie does very nicely on less than $400 a year, living in a 4x8-foot desert shack six miles from Palm Springs, Calif., paying no rent, no taxes, no heat bill.

He is a highway comber supporting a peceful life of solitude by gathering the flotsam and jetsam of the high-speed world he has rejected.

Each week, pushing a cart, he hikes three days along 40 miles of highway to Banning, Calif., gleaning the myriad items that blow from the cars whooshing by at 65 mph. In Banning he sells his finds: hubcaps, bumper guards, pop bottles, shirts, hats, blankets, even wrist watches--lost as people throw cigarets out of windows.

Willie, who did a World War 1 hitch in the Marines, was a hobo for much of his life--he has literally walked coast to coast three times. "As a kid in Mississippi," he says, "I used to see the boxcars come in and I thought, 'Someday I'm going to see where the trains go.' I done it. When you get in the habit of moving, there's always some place else you want to see."

Fourteen years ago in California, feeling he had now seen everything, he found a way of settling down while still remaining a free spirit.

At his shack, built from a roof that blew away, Hubcap McDavid does his washday chores. After his weekly trip to Banning he scrubs all his clothes and himself, no matter what the weather. "I've had icicles in my beard," he says. The license plates and emblems on the shack not only decorate but cover cracks.

Getting by on Bottles, Hubcaps

Up at Cody's Camp I spent my days . . . With flatcar riders, and crosstie walkers . . .

-John Fogherty, Green River
TheOldMan is offline   Reply With Quote