Boxcar Bertha: An Autobiography : As Told to Dr. Ben L. Reitman

Boxcar Bertha An Autobiography As Told to Dr Ben L Reitman Hobo Jungles one stop outside Seattle bughouses whorehouses Chicago s main stem anarchist salons in Greenwich Village IWW meeting halls skid rows the open freight car these were the haunts of B

  • Title: Boxcar Bertha: An Autobiography : As Told to Dr. Ben L. Reitman
  • Author: Ben L. Reitman Kathy Acker Bertha Thompson
  • ISBN: 9780941693066
  • Page: 469
  • Format: Paperback
  • Hobo Jungles one stop outside Seattle, bughouses, whorehouses, Chicago s main stem, anarchist salons in Greenwich Village, IWW meeting halls, skid rows, the open freight car these were the haunts of Boxcar Bertha Thompson, an early Sister of the Road An authentic document of the 1930s, this frank and vivid autobiography recounts Bertha s low life misadventures with piHobo Jungles one stop outside Seattle, bughouses, whorehouses, Chicago s main stem, anarchist salons in Greenwich Village, IWW meeting halls, skid rows, the open freight car these were the haunts of Boxcar Bertha Thompson, an early Sister of the Road An authentic document of the 1930s, this frank and vivid autobiography recounts Bertha s low life misadventures with pimps, hopheads, murderers, anarchists, lunatics, punks, wobblies, and yeggs learning the facts of life from the lesbian Yvonne The Tzigone and the amorous amputee Leg And A Half Peggy breathlessly describing run ins with crooked judges and vicious railroad bulls Boxcar Bertha, as told to Dr Ben L Reitman notorious in his own right as a Hobo King, whorehouse physician, and lover to Emma Goldman is an authentic portrait of Depression era America as seen from the gutter up Kathy Acker, author of Don Quixote and Blood and Guts in High School, has written an introduction especially for this edition Roger A Bruns, author of The Damndest Radical, a biography of Ben Reitman, provides and afterword.

    One thought on “Boxcar Bertha: An Autobiography : As Told to Dr. Ben L. Reitman”

    1. (review originally written for bookslut)I am one of those people who always wants to know whether a movie, book, or story is true. It's not so much that I think true stories are somehow better than fiction, but that I appreciate them differently. For instance, I adore the novel Jane Eyre and am not in the least bit disturbed that there is no way it could be a true story, yet the movie Erin Brockovich would not be nearly so charming if it were not true. That said, when I picked up Sister of the R [...]

    2. The female "You Can't Win," sort of. Belongs on the top shelf of your Hobo Studies collection, or at least of mine.

    3. No doubt the most famous book on American wanderlust was written by Jack Kerouac, who might have had a case of dromomania, that is, a psychological need to wander without real purpose or intention, as in (utilizing the lexicon of the times) “just for kicks.” America has always been a huge land, seemingly endless, and there is nothing more American than reinventing oneself in a new town, either legally or dubiously, and starting over. Dromomania is embedded in American DNA, striking the odd n [...]

    4. Reitman, the longtime partner of Emma Goldman, was a hobo himself, and this novel, purporting to be the autobiography of the fictional Boxcar Bertha but actually a composite of several women and men (including Reitman himself), is dripping with authenticity. Several real-life radicals and anarchists make appearances and are mentioned throughout the book. Some of the oral histories recorded by Bertha read as if they were taken from real people Reitman met in his hobo days. Even the locales Bertha [...]

    5. Box-Car Bertha: An Autobiography as told to Dr. Ben L. Reitman (Amok Press 1988) (305.5). Box-Car Bertha was one of the original woman hoboes during the Great Depression. As Bertha explains, she was also an unrepentant prostitute, an unmarried mother, and a single parent at a time when these were not complimentary terms. She was likely also fictional, according to current theory. Author Ben L. Reitman was an actual medical doctor in Chicago who treated venereal diseases and performed abortions f [...]

    6. this is the story of a freewheeling anarchist lady hobo who travels the country in the 1920's and 30's, hanging out with all sorts of radicals and getting into all sorts of adventures. this book was really interesting and easy-to-read, although i suspect it's actually fiction by ben reitman & not an autobiography. it was really inspiring & fun. i would have given it four stars but i was turned off by all the homophobia! every other group of weirdoes is treated with love except for the ga [...]

    7. NABAT finally makes it clear that his book is a work of fiction - based on true stories as told to or experienced by Dr Reitman. I read this book while researching my own book regarding my great-aunt who was a female hobo for 15 months in 1925. "Boxcar Bertha" is set in the 1930s. Her "experience" is dramatically different from that of my great-aunt but none-the-less interesting. I beleive this book would appeal more to the student of sociology than an historian.

    8. This book was such an inspiration to me. It is still one of my favorites. Although it was purported to be one woman named Boxcar Bertha,it is an amalgamation of many strong, radical women that Dr. Ben Reitman, the radical doctor of prostitutes, met over many years in the early 20th century. It is the story of hobos, prostitutes, labor organizers, and con artists doing what they could to survive in America.

    9. This is a very fun read. As I understand it, it was sold as a memoir, but later revealed to be fiction. That controversy doesn't diminish the story. Published in 1937, it's very readable, and filled with authentic details. My copy (from 1937) has an appendix with statistics and anecdotal information about homelessness and "radicals" in the 1930s.

    10. This memoir of Boxcar Bertha chronicles her family, friends, and her extensively traveled life. As promised on the cover, it is frank and includes intimate facts about a woman hobo's methods and habits; but much like its subject, it's a bit rough and tumble. I had respect for Bertha and her free-thinking family of progressive socialists, because despite their untraditional nomadic way of life they valued education and parented valiantly - until I got to page 134, when Bertha says to herself in a [...]

    11. Thsi one is gong on both my Fiction and Non-Fiction shelves. Technically it qualifies as a novel, but is a sociological study as well as Boxcar Bertha is a fictional character, an amalgam of probably three women early 20th Century radicals.While Reitman paints a compelling picture of Bertha as a rider of the rails, anarchist, believer in free love, and philosopher-at-large, what is missing in the book is the desperation of the hobo life during the Great Depression. This clouds the narrative and [...]

    12. Generations cycle through, cry through endless nights then molder in graves cold, but the habits & desires of society and individuals abide. So modern to believe we live like none before us, but the the things that don't change prove most uncanny & ubiquitous. I love Bertha for her honesty, I love hitchhiking, wide open spaces and concrete jungles. Found out that there's a movie loosely based on the book that came out in 1972 (two stars). One disappointing thing, however, was finding out [...]

    13. This book is a good read. it tells the combined story of multiple different women hobos during the early part of the last century. the stories contained in the book are informational beyond just being a good story. the subjects they mention, such as the hobo camps or the hobo colleges or the specific apartments or tenements, are part of a much larger hobo history of the time. It's also part of a series being published by AK Press with lots of other really good books in it.

    14. Although clearly written from a man's point of view, it is still a frank, revealing view of free women who rode the rails and campaigned either overtly or through their choices for a less repressive society.It should be assigned to every girl at the age of 12; those girls would remember the good and the bad written here (even without the editorial slant that Dr. Reitman feels he must add) and make different choices as a result, and really, what more can a book do for you than that?

    15. Even though I expected Boxcar Bertha to be more of a badass, I admire that she took it upon herself to experience as much as possible for the sake of learning about the human condition. She has pretty much seen it all, even if she hasn't done it. This book was a rare education about Depression-era America with stories and statistics that weren't typically recorded out of "decency".

    16. Awesome historical read of women hoboes during the Great Depression. A great alternative radical history, full of free loving, free-wheeling, free-thinking Wobblies and activists of all stripes whose connection to each other was the rails and a non-mainstream way of being. Found this book quite inspirational, like Angela Davis' auto-biography.

    17. This book was pretty good. It was a little repetitious, but overall interesting. It gives a good idea of what it is like to be a female traveling around the country as a hobo, train-hopper, or as the title states sister of the road.

    18. another classic hobo bio. bertha however is much more than a rail rider. she gets mixed up with the trouble stirring emma G! read more and find out.

    19. May or may not be true but it's still a damn fine page turner. This book was another of my late night reads at the laundromat.

    20. i was very excited about reading a book about the experiences of a female hobo until i found out it is fiction, written by a male writer. but still it was interesting, badly written though.

    21. The postscript at the end kind of ruined the book for me. I might've been more receptive had I known what the book actually was going into it, instead of coming out of it.

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