BRITT, Iowa — Veteran hobo Gerard “Frog” Fortin hopped his first freight train in 1970 in Florida, riding an open-topped gondola car through the night to New Orleans. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair.
“I remember that entire night. I didn’t fall asleep because I was just so mesmerized by the wide-open skies and the stars shining in on me. I was just so thrilled. I just felt that exhilarated. That wanderlust in me was finally filled,” he recalled, beaming at the memory. “It was total and absolute freedom.”
After 31 years traveling the United States and working as an itinerant laborer, cook and sometime oil rig worker in the Gulf of Mexico, Fortin, 64, joined a growing number of aging hobos who have retired and settled down.