A Modern Hobo Story
by Charles Whaley III
by Roy Peak
If you've ever been sitting in your car at a railroad crossing, waiting for a train to pass by, and wondered just what would it be like to hop that train and travel across the country, busking for money, living off the kindness of strangers at truck stops and convenient marts, sleeping in the wide open, then Ohioan Charles Whaley, also sometimes known as Captain Chucke, has a book just for you.
It was 2015, and Whaley—then all of 21 years old—decided to hop a train down to Florida for a Rainbow Gathering to meet up with some friends. He had been mostly homeless for the past previous years, so what the hell—right? Whaley ends up spending years traveling around the country, on trains and as an occasional hitchhiker, meeting lots of folks and teaching himself how to play the ukulele in the process.
Whaley's tales of run-ins with the train-yard security, waiting long nights for another train, hitchhiking from one state to the next, drug-fueled hippie gatherings that sometimes end in violence may not be new, but it's intriguing how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Although in our modern times the errant drifter has access to a smart phone, gps, electronic funds, and the internet to aid in their journeys. Although, many times when you hop a train it doesn't go the direction you intended and you end up in the wrong city, hundreds of miles away from your intended destination, and you can only turn your phone on sparingly with nowhere to charge it.
Whaley's stories are unflinchingly honest and matter of fact. He doesn't color his story needlessly or try to whitewash anything, these are true tales told with honesty and conviction.
And as Captain Chucke, Whaley even found time to record enough songs while on the road with his ukulele to release an album on Bandcamp! Check it out if you get the chance, mostly recorded on a cellphone, these songs ring as honest and true to our times as the folksingers of yesteryear. https://captainchucke.bandcamp.com/album/ohio-outlaw
You can find A Modern Hobo Story by Charles Whaley online at Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-modern-hobo-story-charles-whaley/1140989810
Roy Peak has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist." His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and he writes music reviews for the King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville. Roy writes music reviews for the Rocking Magpie among others.