While doing genealogy research, a college professor runs across a true example of that most wayward of American existences-the hobo-in a story of a pair of runaways who hopped the rails, departing for times and places unknown, with only their adventurous spirits to guide them.
Near his life's end, Percy B. Gates was a distinguished family man. He'd settled down and leveled out, but his past was full of adventure. At age thirteen, Percy and his best friend, Bill, ran off, whisked away from their homes on railroad tracks. They met a wide cast of characters while traveling the fifty states, from Wyatt Earp in the Old West to Teddy Roosevelt down in San Antonio. Bill fought a war, and Percy barely missed joining Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Eventually, they became boilermakers on that same railroad and found themselves in the middle of more than one outburst of union violence. Their rowdy journey through life ended up as more than those young runaways could have imagined.
This expansive adventure portrays a classic American story, based on the author's grandfather's own tales and letters. Leaving a disastrous past behind, the hobo sets off on his own American dream.