We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A "bum" was/is a term for an idle adult male. A shameful condition. These three bums are from the South Ferry (NYC) Flophouse, 1941. I wonder how they ended up. Maybe in the Army. Guy on the right should have gone to Hollywood.
Then bums. By today's standards, dressed for job interview
Another guy named Dan
Bums, tramps, and hobos were slightly different in the old days, and I think this still obtains now. Bums were the lowest order. Hobos traveled in search of work, and tramps traveled, sometimes accepting work and sometimes not. Bums stayed put and didn't work.
I have a friend who intends to go hoboing when he retires.
Assistant Village Idiot
Normally your comments make me chuckle but, wHy would these guys be in Europe serving their country? Pearl Harbor wouldn't be for another 6 months from when this photo was taken.
For bums, they took care of themselves and how they dressed. For example, from another picture you can tell the middle guy is wearing a suit and his trousers are pressed with a sharp crease. You didn't have "permanent press" in those days, somebody had to do that.
I read a book called Hobo by Eddie Joe Cotton a few years ago that educated me in the differences between bums, tramps, and hobos. It was written in the early 2000s and many things haven't changed out on the rails, according to the author. You're right about the differences. Hobos and tramps didn't want to be confused with bums.
It's an amazing book. If I would have read it in my twenties I can almost guarantee that I would have jumped a train and rode it somewhere for a while. There are hobo jungles in existence today in the same places they were 70 years ago. It's a lonesome, tough, and free lifestyle.
I wonder how much the shoes cost the guy on the left in terms of a day's wages. It seems like they didn't make cheaply made shoes back then. His are in bad shape, but how do they compare in cost to today's shoes? A cheap $60 pair of dress shoes won't last long these days if you have to wear them every day. I'm sure his are well stitched and all leather, except for the newspaper liner to plug the holes.
I wonder the same thing about the middle guy's suit. How much did it cost in terms of hours of labor and how would it compare to a suit today with the same hours of labor? I'll bet it's worlds apart.
Somebody started up a 'Hobo Convention' in Britt, IA near my hometown. Never attended but I did see a few news reports and articles on it. I'm a rail fan and came across this version of your description of the difference between the three
A Hobo is a migratory worker.
A Tramp is a migratory non-worker.
A Bum is stationary non-worker.
I don't know about considering them 'bums' from their dress (dude in the middle even has on a tie). Maybe transient workers? By 1941 the economy was getting better as we were starting to ramp up war production for Britain, France, et al.