Friday, May 13, 2011

The King of the Hobos

Ben Reitman was known as two things. The king of the Hobos and the Hobo Doctor. Reitman was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Both of his parents were poor Russian immigrants. After his birth his parents and he moved to Chicago where he then grew up. Surprisingly enough at the age of just ten Reitman became a Hobo. This didn’t last long though because he later came back home. In 1900, he decided to enter college in Chicago training to be a physician He then completing his medical studies in 1904. While he worked as a physician in Chicago he chose to offer his medical services to hobos, prostitutes, the poor and other outcasts of capitalist society. In fact though it was illegal he performed many abortions at the time.

In 1908 Reitman met Emma Goldman his future lover. For eight years the two traveled with one another working to get a better lifestyle for all of the poor in the States. Their causes were Birth control, Free speech, worker’s rights and most importantly for all Hobos anarchism. During the two’s affair they were severly beaten and imprisoned for multiple reasons. Reitman was even branded with the I.W.W.s innitials.

Reitman and Goldman both believed heavily in free love and ultimately it ended their love affair as Reitman’s other lovers became pregnant. Goldman and Reitman ended their relationship after his release from one of his prison terms in 1917.

After their affair ended Reitman decided to head back to Chicago where he worked with a group who were for the Prevention of Venereal Diseases. He continued to have various love affairs and ultimately had four more children. Reitman died in Chicago at 63 years old.

1 comment:

  1. Reitman was a fascinating guy - my only quarrel would be that not all hoboes cared about anarchism; the majority probably didn't know or care much about politics or economics, other than needing to make a living.