Survey 10: Fortune and Fuhrer (1930-1945)


Let’s set the scene; It’s 1931, ice and coal is still being delivered door to door in Vancouver. In 1932 the Burrard street bridge was completed. The construction of the lions gate bridge started in 1937. The 1930’s were the time of the Great Depression for a few reasons. Land was over tilled by farmers trying desperately to grow crops. Because of this, during the drought prairies became dust bowls. This is why this time was called the dirty thirties. The year 1930 is when the first issue of fortune magazine was released. It’s also the time of the first flight attendants. In 1939 New York hosted the world fair. Movie posters were being made at the time and looked really cool. Movies such as King Kong and Frankenstein were being released and had different posters made for different countries. Nazi propaganda was made to influence the public and spread anti semitism. It was common in school books where it was used to try to scare children. A.M. Cassandra was a famous poster designer at the time who made amazing posters. Jean Carly was also a great poster designer at the time who shared political views in his posters although the was never as famous as Cassandra because he didn’t make as many posters throughout his career.


Hobo Culture in America during the Great Depression

The Hobo Convention defines a hobo as such “hobo wanders and works, a tramp wanders and dreams and a bum neither wanders nor works.” It’s assumed hobos started appearing on the American railroad scene around late 1860’s with the end of the American Civil War. Even so, the amount of hobos greatly increased in the 1930’s due to the Great Depression. With no hope at a job at home, many people decided to become migrant workers and travel by train for free.

A hobo taking the train

An example of hobo’s in literature: lennie and George from of mice and men

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Lennie and George travel for work like most hobos. They end up landing themselves s job that is secure for a while.

Life as a hobo was dangerous and came with it consequences. They had to avoid aggressive trains staff which they referred to as “bulls”. Also, riding on freight trains in and of itself is quite risky. It was common to get injured when trying to jump aboard moving trains. It was also easy to get trapped between cars and freeze to death.

A hobo man helping another get on a train

Hobos developed their own sort of code when talking. They made up an entire vocabulary of words they use to describe different people and situation. Not only that but they made up a form of written communication using pictographs drawn on the walls in railway stations warning other hobos of danger or to let them know if the place is safe.

An example of some of the pictographs used

Hobo Ethical Code

Hobos have created an ethical code of conduct which must be abided by. It was created by the tourist union #63 at the 1889 National Hobo Convention in St Louis Missouri. It has a lot of rules about respecting themselves and other people. It encourages good behaviour so as not not get oneself in trouble. There are 16 rules total.