Click to return from whence you came! Glowing Mosquitoes
Click on any photograph for enlargement.

Jerry Pardubicky ~ April 8, 2004

See "My Guitars" footnote(1).
Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
1963: In Czechoslovakia
age 14.

      American Hoboes can call me a tenderfoot or rubber tramp. For me is a blessing to be here, to be an American and Hobo to.

      Since I started I carved "hobos", I did about three dozens at all in Czechoslovakia, some of it on Czech aluminum coins. It is interesting story how it started.

      My mother was a Stationmaster for state (under communist rule) owned railroad -CSD. I simply fall in love with railroads and people around it and mix my blood with steam at the same time. I still do remember that smell of station floors treated with used oil and that combination of steam and burning coal and ambers - the glowing mosquitoes (as Czech call them) - in the air.
See "My Guitars" footnote(2).
Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
1973: High Tatras - Slovakia
Portions of this CSD road
are COG-rail.

      I started "hoboing/tramping" at age of 13 - my mother did not liked at all. Anyway, after August 1968 when Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, great number of Czech and Slovak "tramps" escaped from country, heading West to freedom. Later one of them send me a post card for mine birthday containing buffalo nickels and he suggested to make a jacket buttons from them. One of those was a hobo! Rather crude. I asked the friend for more information and he send me about dozen photographs.

      I am by a trade a mechanical engineer and I vent trough trade school (universal machinist) before University. This is a thing you would not understood - I have to place my self in to a "working class or proletariat", to be illegible and gain a permission of communists "Rulers" to go to University.

      I have a long-standing hobby of building and restorations of musical instruments (guitars, mandolins and banjos). So I have to learn by trial and error engraving in mother of pearl inlays.

Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
Best Friend
Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
Captain Picard

      As I made my first "hobo nickels" (rather rough) in 1973, my friends in Czechoslovakia liked it. I used more than half of that post card lot there.

      In 1983 (finally) me and my family find a chance for escape from Czechoslovakia. I am US citizen now (and proud of it).

      In the period of time 1984 to about 1989 I carved rest of my buffaloes in to "Hobos" and this time carving was done mostly in to a newer nickels simply because that reverse building - Monticello is too tempting for carving a slide door Pullman or a steam Hog. I never sold any of it, it always was and still is, a gift to a friend(s).

Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.

      Above on the left is my attempt to carving of friend portrait while above on the right is Capt. Piccard for friend's birthday (made recenly). That circle with horns (symbol of woodcraft) is my moniker on all of them I carved. I do not "age" them in any way. Polishing is done with steel wool 0000. Pictures are direct scans, not photos.

      Here in USA I did about two or three dozens of hobos before 1995. Two of them are carved in silver quarters and buried in my friend's graves (even widows don't known that), until computer injury to my right arm. I was doing some heavy duty computer drafting - rebuilding Coors glass plant. My right arm swelled and my tendons at elbow were torn of. After months of pain (and being laid of for the trouble) I finally got a surgery, not to fix the problem, but to remove pinched nerve. I lost sensitivity and precision in my hand and was warned by doctors, that I will never have same strength. Since then I regain most, but not all. As this happened, it put a "red lantern out" on lot of things I love to be doing. I could not even play my guitar for long, long time. And I will be caring ugly scar until my last day.

Click to view an enlargement of this photograph. Click to view an enlargement of this photograph. Click to view an enlargement of this photograph. Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
1) Utah, 2) Annie, 3) "Bo" Czech style (flower rather than feather) and 4) my tools (sometimes taking them with me.)

      Being a "high technology prostitute" - mechanical manufacturing engineer and having four U.S. patents with my name on it, I am now 31 months out of job. So I do hear the calling of The road - UP tracks is about five blocks away: "go bum again, go bum again" from the song "Fast freight", on which I and two other Czech Hoboes (Switch & Zaza) wrote Czech text in 1969.

      I have to had to reconsider my future, and because my heart is still beating in the rhythm of the rails, so I started (among other thinks), carving Hobos again.

See "My Guitars" footnote(3).
Click to view an enlargement of this photograph. Click to view an enlargement of this photograph. Click to view an enlargement of this photograph. Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
1) Playing Dobro with my friends. Pupal on guitar and Baron on banjo.
2) At campfire with Kimberly - nicest girl of my life.
3) Bandaska's cabin Feb. 2003. Bandaska (first from left) is his Tramp name.
Photograph's meaning: "We are Czechs by birth but Americans by souls."

4) My 55th birthday inside of Bandaska's cabin.

      Bandaska's cabin is located on mountain plato about 11,000 feet high, couple miles from Como - former railroad Hub for Denver South Park & Pacific, Colorado & Southern and Denver & Rio Grande. Not to far from Boreas Pass - at the time highest railroad pass in the World. Tracks are long gone (50's), turned into highways and very nice Jeep-roads. Cabin has no electric power. This year it was outside 22 digress below zero over night.

      Hobos are very interesting subject and Czech and Slovak tramps are just about everywhere in the World. We do call a big gathering every five years somewhere - World wide. First was on Yukon River in Canada then in Australia, Switzerland, Colorado USA, BC Canada, again in Australia and next one will be in Texas in two years. Just imagine jungle with over 1200 tramps! There are an annual gatherings in Colorado, Texas, Illinois and three in Canada (that is about hundred tramps in each).

      My feelings are, that I have to give back something to Americans, for all those songs, we (Czechs and Slovaks) translated in and feel as there's own. It have give us a "Spirit lift" in really hard times and it still giving us all a hope for The Freedom Hope and experience of kindness and understanding the destiny of each of us - the tramps.

      Please forgive me my (sometimes) strange language. English is my fifth I have learned.

Jeff (My Tramp nickname) - Czech Hobo

    Glowing Mosquitoes - Footnote:

My Guitars

     (1)  On the first photo is my No name, but American (got in Czechoslovakia with Gen. Patton's soldier 101 Airborne on end of WW2 and marked inside Made in USA) small guitar maple body, it was a present for me and my first musical instrument I fixed under supervision of Master violin maker to be playable.

     (2)  In photo 1973 is other guitar (I still have it here in US). That one is Czech made and marked with military logo (crossed swords an 55) burned in to back of peg head. I saved it from trash during my Army service (We where all drafted, like it, or not)

     (3)  In the latest photos is my Martin D-16 A (for Ash) of 1979 vintage.

Click on any photograph for enlargement.

Click to return from whence you came!