Watch Peabody Award-winning classic Riding the Rails, directed by Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell. The film is a visionary perspective on the presumed romanticism of the road and cautionary legacy of the Great Depression then hear stories from local former hobo and current Philipsburg resident Luther Gette. From ‘middle class gentility to scrabble-ass poor,’ the undiscriminating Great Depression forced 4,000,000 Americans away from their homes and onto the tracks in search of food and lodging. Of this number, a disturbing 250,000 of the transients were children. A discussion with the filmmakers and Luther follows the screening which will relay the experiences and painful recollections of these now-elderly survivors of the rails. This block is preceded by the short film, Destination Park: Double Life of a Trucker, by Atlantic Monthly’s Andrew Cohn.
Double Life of a Truck Driver
USA; 9 mins
Destination Park delves into the lives of truckers who confide their anxieties, frustrations, hopes, and fears to the chaplain of a mobile chapel.
Michael Uys, Lexy Lovell
USA; 72 mins
Riding the Rails presents the poignant and little-known story of teen hobos during the 1930s, a time of desperation and bitter hardship. These young itinerant Americans were all searching for a better life; what they found was a mixture of freedom, camaraderie, misery, and loneliness. Producers Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell placed notices in national publications in search of individuals who rode the rails as teenagers. Three thousand people, now in their 70s and 80s, responded. Uys and Lovell selected a handful to tell their stories on camera.
Former hobo king Luther “the Jet” Gette, a native of Philipsburg, spent much of his life riding frieght trains across the USA and Canada.