Sister of The Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha

Not an autobiography but more of an amalgamation of three women’s lives told through the noted Hobo-ologist, Dr. Ben Reitman. Once you accept the level of truth to the tale, it’s a believable account of many years of research and listening and riding the rails. Boxcar Bertha follows in her mother’s hobo footsteps, falling in with socialists and anarchists, prostitutes and thieves. She watches her lover Big Otto’s death by hanging (murder during a stick-up job). She gets pregnant and diseased after servicing 1500 men in a brothel while hating herself for falling for her pimp. She meets a statistician on a train who ends up getting her a respectable job (where the story ends, she gets off the train and greets her 8 year old daughter, finally able to settle down and “let her daughter raise her”). The first years of her daughter’s life are spent in Home Colony, WA, where communal raising of children is the norm, so she can slip off and ride the rails to Chicago, New York, Alabama.