Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Beggars Purse - Book Review

The small town where we lived has many freight trains passing through daily.  Often we would be waiting at the tracks and watch the hobo's as they whizzed by.  It was always a great mystery and curiosity for the kids and their imaginations ran wild as they tried to figure out who these men were, where they came from, and where they were going.  There was a moment of excitement every time a hobo was spotted through a doorway amidst the fast moving, loud, and clanking cars.

Toni Nelson was raised in a similar town in the 50s and her grandparents home became a safe house where travellers passing through could have a meal on their journey.  The hobos had placed a secret code on the house to identify it as such to others and her grandma prepared a huge meal each morning to serve the guests that might drop in that day.  They would eat their meal on the porch and continue on their way with a simple "thank you".

I especially enjoyed seeing the world though Toni's childhood eyes as she reminisces about a simpler and quieter time where bikes were the mode of transportation for kids and hours could be spent catching frogs.  The story is written as one friend sharing their experiences with another and would be a wonderful book to read on a winter evening with a crackling fire and cup of cocoa.

The impact of her childhood experiences carried into adulthood as she continues to reach out with a smile and something to eat for the homeless and hobos she and her husband meet throughout their normal daily activities.  Her attitude and approach is one of compassion coupled with practically.  Toni does not come across as a crusader trying to change the world but rather a kind person who does not look past those that others might be tempted to turn away from.

Recently we are seeing more people on the streets and I have read a few blog posts on other sites about dealing with the modern hobos of our time under whatever name they might be referred to.  I encourage all who have thought about this situation to read Toni's book.  I had the opportunity to meet her a month or so ago and her warm smile is the first thing a person would notice.  She recently has worked to encourage others with a sock drive and passing out a lunch sack with each book sale.  You can find Toni and her book at her blog and on facebook.   If you ever have the opportunity to meet Toni expect that she will give you a big hug.

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