Pete and Lucinda Strait of Morgantown, West Virginia, were devastated when their six-year-old son, Jack, informed them that he plans to be a hobo when he grows up.
The news came as a particular blow to Lucinda. For Jack's entire life, she's done her best to instill in her son a sense of ambition and a drive toward professional success. But thus far, it's all been for naught; Jack has no interest in abandoning his ramblin' ways.
"I don't wanna hurt my mama," says Jack, "but I got a wanderin' soul. Maybe it comes from my daddy."
That could well be. Pete Strait used to live the ramblin' life, heading wherever the ramblin' road took him.
But after years of wind and rain, and chilly nights huddled over campfires too small for him and his hobo crew, Pete felt the need for some human comfort. That comfort came in the form of the sweet-faced Lucinda Honeywell, the only daughter of a wealthy Morgantown oil prospector. Pete left his ramblin' ways behind to settle down with Lucinda.
Like Lucinda, Pete has attempted to dissuade Jack from his plans to become a hobo, because as he knows all too well, it ain't no easy life. At the same time, Pete can't entirely dismiss his son's hobo dreams.
"There ain't nothin' like the open road," Pete admits with a wistful shake of his head, his gray eyes shining with, perhaps, a not-quite-suppressed yearning for that hobo life. "Even now, something stirs inside a me when I hear that ol' train whistle blow. Lord, I'm a fool for a lonesome train!"
As for Jack, he plans to begin his hobo life locally, among the West Virginia pines. Then he'll most likely hop a southbound train and ride it all the way to Georgia, 'til the train runs out of track.
And after that, there's really no telling where he'll end up.
"I won't never forget where I came from, but I got that travelin' bone," Jack explains. "I just hope my mama understands. "
Lucinda takes some solace in the fact that her older son, eight-year-old Lucas, plans to work for the Man when he grows up - no drifter's life for him. And Lucinda still holds out hope that Jack will change his mind about his hobo future.
But even if he doesn't, Lucinda plans to stand by her son.
"I'm his mama. And he's my boy," she summarizes simply. "But oh, Lord, I hope he don't go."