Iowegin Rick, the Hobo King for 2022, is a man of few words, but the steam engine tattoo on his forehead hints at his history. The Waterloo, Iowa, native has been on the road for most of his 66 years, a lot of them in boxcars heading west and south. He rode the rails for more than three decades, until age and health problems intervened, about ten years ago.
He managed to get to Britt, Iowa, for 30 years straight for the National Hobo Convention, where the festivities include electing a hobo king and queen. It was there, 23 years ago, that Iowegin met Minneapolis Jewel, who recalled, “He was a hot mess – no bedroll, no water.” Jewel, whose non-hobo name is Julianna Porrazzo-Ray, has been a Holland neighborhood resident for 36 years. She’s been Hobo Queen five times herself.