In 1932, when Texas-born Clydia Williams was seven, she began hopping freights with her cousins, two boys of eight and a half and ten years. For three years, the trio roamed Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arizona, and California, sometimes with relatives follow-ing the cotton and fruit harvests, sometimes riding boxcars for hundreds of miles on their own.
An only child of mixed descent, Clydia went to live with her relatives in Longview, Texas, when her mother remarried. The younger of her cousins lived with his mother in Texas; the older boy was in Oklahoma with his father. The boys frequently hoboed back and forth between Texas and Oklahoma, and Clydia began to ride the rails with them.
We lived in small one- or two-room places with a well in the middle of the yard that rented for twenty-five or fifty cents a week. My relatives would be gone for days at a time workin' someplace or lookin' for something to do. They left my cousins to baby-sit me. When they started riding freight trains, I went with them.
In 1932 there weren't as many people as were traveling later: maybe ten or fifteen on a train. We saw children our age riding alone and others who were with their families.
An empty boxcar was always our first choice for a ride. Sometimes we had to travel in cattle cars. The animals would bawl all