The hobo furnace

I am currently writing a book which is more or less just a collection of stories told to me by my grandfather. He is a very old man now, and I don’t know how long he has left, so I am trying to get as many of his stories as I can, because he has lived a very colorful life. He spent his teenage years as a hobo, riding the rails across the midwest looking for farming jobs. He jumped into moving trains and lived off of scraps at times, what a way to live! Gramps always said the hardest fight was for food or water, but for heating. Even outside of winter, the nights in the great plains got mighty cold, and few had ready sources of heating, which could be the difference between life and death. Gramps always kept a flint and steel in his boot, and carried a little device he called the hobo furnace. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a furnace at all, it was just a hubcap he had hammered into shape and attached some legs to. What it provided was a flat, steady surface that was capable of holding a small fire safely, even inside a train. It didn’t generate the heating, but it could sustain it for an hour or two at a time, which was valuable back then. With the flint and steel and some kindling he could start a small fire, enough to keep a few hobos in heating for a little while. Even better, the old man still has that old hobo furnace!

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