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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Potluck (Meal or Gathering) Deadline 7-26-12 @ 10 AM NY Time (07/19/12)

TITLE: A Meal Fit for a King
By Jeff Houdyshelt


Clack, clack,clack the sound of the locomotive’s wheels hitting the track. The year was 1938 and I was a traveling Marketer. What was I marketing you ask. Why me of course, can you think of a better person to help? Before we go on I guess that I should level with you. I was really a Hobo. I had been one for several months by permission of course.

What was that? Why was I a Hobo? Well it’s a long involved story and one I will briefly try to answer. In 1936 I was just your average guy with a family and it would have stayed that way if it were not for my pastor giving a sermon on fulfilling your destiny.

When I was in college I wanted to be a writer. But instead of becoming a writer I fell in love, got married, and had the usual 2.5 kids. Becoming a writer was always in the back of my mind, and it had stayed there until that sermon.

The next couple weeks after that sermon I started to think about that what I would like to write about, and I settled on gaining life experience through the eye’s of a great tradition. That of riding the rails of our country as a Hobo. My wife and kids thought I had lost my mind, but reluctantly gave me their blessings.

I had been gone for several months and I had started being a regular on the railways. The Hobo culture had taken me in. The train slowed at a familiar spot on the railway so we all jumped off. I knew this place to be close to a Hobo camp.

As I entered my fellow Hobo’s welcomed me in and gave me a drink to quench my thirst. There were a lot of traditions and customs that were handed down to every new face that was accepted into their special way of life. One of those traditions was the craft of the Hobo dinner a potluck dinner as it was called.

One thing that I had learned throughout my travels was that a Hobo takes meal preparation very seriously. It was an art that had to be skillfully learned. There was a special technique in mastering the potluck meal. One had to know how to throw a bunch of unusual ingredients together to form a Hobo masterpiece. If you were to look up the meaning of a potluck meal, there would probably be a picture of a Hobo staring right at you.

I have to admit that I was becoming fond of this lifestyle. We were free from society and lived like our ancestors we were living off the land and sometimes gardens of some unsuspecting farmers from time to time. What’s that? You want to know what goes into a potluck dinner.

Well you start off with a little of this and a little of that. A pinch of this and a mess of that. You use your imagination. Nothing is off limits. There are no recipes, no cookbooks to reference. All you have to do is make it worthy of eating.

There you go with another question. How to you know if it’s good or not. Well if you do not get makeshift plates thrown at you then you know it’s good. A good potluck dinner was always prefaced with a thanks to God by prayer. These men may be social outcasts but they do revere their God. For that I am grateful.

A meal was never duplicated because the ingredients were always different hence the word “potluck.” I guess the meaning is that it’s just sheer luck at what shows up in the pot from day to day. Another question. Where do they get the ingredients? Well some are bought and some are what you would call” liberated.”

The life of a Hobo, is just like the potluck meals. It is just a little bit of everything. Those days are far behind me now. It makes me smile to think about those potluck meals, and the solemn look that those men had on their face while they prayed for that thrown together meal. It was like a King’s chef had prepared it. They certainly were not put together by a renowned Chef, but they were always a meal fit for a king.

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This article has been read 286 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 07/26/12
Entertaining and totally enjoyable piece. I really thought this to be clever and well so well written. Thanks. God Bless~
Mildred Sheldon07/27/12
HOBO STEW. I enjoyed this so very much. Brought back memories of when I was a child. We lived near the train tracks and my momma never turned a hungry man away and she fed many Hobo's. Thanks for sharing and God bless.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/31/12
This is such a creative piece. I liked the POV you used. It's not easy to pull off speaking directly to your reader but you did a splendid job of it. Such an original and fun take on the topic. It made me think a bit of an Andy Griffith episode where Opie took up with a hobo. Being compared to Andy Griffith is a very high compliment in my book. Outstanding bit of writing.
Brenda Rice 07/31/12
I enjoyed this very much. You have an easy style that makes reading it fun. Your cretive view point made the topic fresh...just like your feast fit for a King. Thanks.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/02/12
Congratulations for ranking 8th in level two!