Today I received sad news that a dear member of the hobo family “Caught the Westbound.” Musician Fred Starner, also known as “Banjo Fred,” brought many a happy tune to hobo gatherings.
Banjo Fred, like others with a quest to give the American hobo a home in U.S. history, told their stories through song. Ten years ago, I set out to research the American hobo, interviewing the rail-riding men and women of the Great Depression to the present day railriders. I, too, learned that there is so much more to their stories–often found in the music the hobos compose and perform, the poems and stories they write, the art and carvings they craft. Banjo Fred understood that, and used his music to keep alive the stories of the American Hobo. We shall miss you, Fred.