For many years, Sodus Point has been a “Destination” for many tourists and visitors. This was also true of hobos.
If you are under the age of 50, you might not know what a hobo was. A hobo was a homeless person, sometimes referred to as a “Gentlemen of the Road or King of the Road”, a career which sprang up during the depression and seemed to die out by the early 1960s. A hobo was more than willing to work, but mostly for a short duration, as their main impetus is travel, the love of the journey above the actual destination. They also were known to accept handouts and sometimes “liberated” crops and foodstuffs when the opportunity presented itself.
The following story comes from Bill Huff, Jr.:
In the 1940s and 50s, Sodus Point had a small Hobo camp located behind the old Railroad Roundhouse (near where the Great Lakes Marine Works now is). It consisted of between 6 -12 Hobos who came to town by sneaking aboard the freight coal cars that the Pennsylvania Railroad ran to Sodus Point and the coal trestle for unloading to the freighters. The Hobos did occasionally do odd jobs but were also known for pilfering local crops and took the odd handout when offered. However, they were considered harmless by most of the people in town and were pretty much left to themselves which seem to suit them fine. As in other places around the U.S., the post World War 2 era was a boom time for the economy and Hobos disappeared as part of the culture Americana.
The following information comes from Marie and Gene DeWispelaere:
In the 1930s, Marie’s grandparents owned a farm on Rt. 14 within the village limits. Among other crops, the farm produced beans which were stored in their barn. During those depression years, a number of hobos stayed at their barn and did odd jobs for Marie’s grandparents and were paid with money and lodging. The hobos used piles of seed pods as their beds and covered themselves with blankets.
A number of years ago, Marie’s husband Gene found in the barn a coffee can with a dime in it. When he mentioned this to Marie’s father and grandmother, they told them it was payment left there for the hobos in case they ever came back.
Fred Harrington who grew up as a boy in Sodus Point, tells another story:
One of the Hobos was named Cliff and he was a very talented artist. He became popular with the local town people for beautifully painting their names on their mailboxes. They paid him a dollar and a sandwich for his work. Many local mail boxes were painted by him. He never wanted to settle down and devote himself and become a serious artist, however. He loved the carefree life of being a hobo. He was a part of the hobo camp near the train tracks. The police would sometimes come around and try to disperse the hobos but they would just go into nearby woods and wait until the police left.