BBM Art & Music

Sandra Shaw made this incredible “hobo sign” quilt for me, to commemorate Black Bottle Man.
Here it’s on display at a Winnipeg quilt show where Sandra won a well deserved ribbon for this work of art.
Just above my head you can see the hobo sign for “A man with a gun lives here.”
On the top line, third from the right, the large triangle with three small triangles is my favourite hobo sign, “A good woman lives here.”

Artist Tara Leach created this beautiful pastel image for the Black Bottle Man stage play poster. I was simply thrilled.


Ian Russell of Sebastian Owl wrote and performed the evocative music below, “J-Vole” – (to stand in for Gail’s second prize composition, “Illuminating) – for the final confrontation between Gail, Rembrandt and the Black Bottle Man for BBM stage play.

Hobos and the Slaughter House

The difference between the people forced to take to the road during the Great Depression and those who were able to hang on to hearth and home was slim as a dime.
But the men who were hobos before the 1930s – during the good times of the Roaring Twenties – would have been an entirely different kettle of fish. They chose to wander. Makes you wonder why.
In contrast, my parents were born in 1918 and faced the Great Depression as teenagers.
My father’s parents had been quite well off, with plenty of farmland and a nice house in town. But the collapse ruined them, and Dad had to leave school to work after grade eight.
Through the 1930s and after, my folks saw their share of grasshoppers, drought and hard times.
But through unending work, and despite having to feed and clothe ten children, they managed to hang on the farm and keep us all together.
Mum sewed our clothes and did all her own baking. We had a few dairy cows for milk, grew a huge garden that supplied us with summer vegetables and winter canning, and raised chickens, pigs and beef cattle.
In addition to cropping our own land, in the fall my dad (plus the boys and girls alike) hired out to do custom combining for other farmers.
He also ran a beef ring – a slaughter house for the local farm families. Without freezers and refrigerators to keep meat fresh, on a rotating basis each family would supply a heifer and the meat would be divided amongst the ring members.
I ask you, how could people give up all that fun, to bum along the railroad?