Jewish Hobo King Prefers Open Road to Share in Dad’s Brooklyn Business
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Jewish Hobo King Prefers Open Road to Share in Dad’s Brooklyn Business

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A little bug that whispers in every man’s ear and is widely known as the wanderlust, has been a faithful companion to Joseph Leon Ben-Morris Cohen Segal Lazarowitz for fourteen years.

The twenty-eight-year-old wanderer, who left his warm home on Van Sinderen Avenue, Brooklyn, at the age when most children have begun to outgrow their toys, and took to the open road, was mastered by the bug. He was mastered so completely in fact that to this day although his folks are still urging him to “settle down” and “get married” and take a share in his father’s cloak and suit business, he insists on wandering further.

Joseph Leon Ben-Morris, however, is not of the ordinary run of tramps. He has capitalized on his achievements. He has won the much-disputed title of King of the Hoboes by acclamation of the Hoboes Union which holds conventions occasionally; he has been the recipient of letters from American Presidents and a Canadian Prime Minister; he has been photographed by Paramount News Reel; he is writing a book of his experiences; he possesses-if nothing else-a neat collection of clipping on himself.


King Lazarowitz, short, stocky, dark and almost toothless, claims kinship with the long line of Hebrew monarchs in theory. His avowed purpose is to redeem the Jewish people. What His Majesty has done in this connection perhaps will escape the recorders of history but not if H.R.H. has anything to say. He visited the offices of The Jewish Daily Bulletin to say his say, and give an account of his attainments to date.

He has shaved his mustache in deference of a feeling of pronounced unfriendliness for Germany’s Chancellor. On one of his jaunts, he had even prevailed on the American consul at Winnipeg to write a letter to the League of Nations, demanding protection for the German Jews. He has and of this he is righteously proud, used his fists in a fight between Fascisti and Jews in Toronto.

“In that fight I sustained two black eyes,” admitted the monarch, “but I left a trail of blood behind me.”

The soldier, student of geography, Zionist and Hobo talked at length with his interviewer stopping only now and then to illustrate his remarks with clippings of news stories written about him which he has collected with a great deal of care. The clippings are well-fingered. His Majesty’s fingers are thick and strong and well-manicured for a man who sleeps in box cars and has been chased by cops and has chiseled meals in nearly every country on five continents.

He displayed gingerly and with impressive solemnity two communications from Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, both acknowledging Lazarowitz’s pledge of support. The Hobo potentate backed Hoover in 1928 and Roosevelt in 1932.


The uncrowned head nodded in assent when asked whether he isn’t weary of the open road.

“I live in Brooklyn with my family,” he said. “I have two sisters and two brothers. My father is in the cloak and suit business. Fourteen years ago I had a scrap with the folks and I ran away from home. I’ve been traveling ever since. I have the wanderlust, you know, a disease. It gets into your blood.”

He said he would like to find a wife and promised to be faithful. A bit shy of women, however, is this Hobo King and he ruefully admitted that he had declined an attempt on the part of one of his sisters to introduce him into feminine society.

“Although I have been a wandering Jew,” said the King, “maybe I would like to live in one place now. I’m not getting younger,” he said.

The King revealed that his father has offered him an interest in the cloak and suit business. He also disclosed with pride that Paramount pictures had requested an interview with him for which he was to be paid. He wanted to know the extent of the appeal of this story, so in case he should want to travel again, knowledge of him would have preceded him on the way.

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