California, April and May, 1940.
Unlike hitch-hiking, riding the freights is rough stuff. There are railroad guards to be outwitted, local small town police to be evaded, and older and more hardened transients to be dealt with. Freights are not only a means of transportation but a life in itself. To footloose youngsters uprooted from the regular channels of life freights offer a rather adventurous and daredevil life, a chance to travel, a chance to "see a lot of purty country from the top of a freight".
In the "jungle" are found camps where food is shared and living reduced to its simplest essentials. In small towns "hand-outs" can be procured from restaurants, bakeries and back doors. What they get is shared with their traveling companions of the moment. One youth with a bag of candy, a "back door hand-out" said, "I know it ain't so good for you on an empty stomach, but it keeps the gnawing feeling away." They learn to skip meals for days at a time, and to live from hand to mouth and survive it.
In some towns freight riders are not allowed to get off the freights; in others they are not allowed to enter the "yards". Society has originated a phrase that applies to all "bums" at all times: "KEEP MOVING".
The search for employment soon becomes abandoned for the evasion of employment and the young "bums" soon become conditioned to a reception which asks only that they "Keep Moving". In time this life which disassociates itself and escapes the responsibilities of society, begins to have a fascination of its own.