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Jack the Bear
. . . You can understand why I was feeling rather jumpy with all the things that had happened recently and so I thought I would travel with someone who could offer me some protection. I left New Orleans with a guy from Jackson, Mississippi, who had named himself Jack the Bear. I found out later he should have called himself Jack the Lamb. He was a little bit of a guy and it seems like he must have stolen his name from some other big guy. Very often the boys, to be recognized as somebody, would use alias names like that.
Anyhow Jack the Bear proposed that we hobo.
I said, "No, I can t hobo. I tried that once. When I got off the train I thought it was slowing down and I fell headforemost and tore the knees out of the trousers of my sixty-dollar, brand-new suit. So I don't have to do that no more."
So he said, "I'll tell you what well do. You play piano very well . . . We can always get plenty to eat if you play."
I said, "Yeah, I can always play up to some food and a place to sleep, there ain't no argument about that."
The first town we hit was Yazoo, Mississippi. Immediately I started playing piano and I made the landlady of the house, so that meant food for Jack and I. Of course Yazoo is one of those little bitty towns with a river running right through it— maybe a pond, Td call it—and the sporting-houses of Yazoo was kind of cheap. Nothing like New Orleans at all, where the people spent money like water and where I could pick up plenty of money. So one of the local guys realized I was around and it looked like I was going to get into trouble so I 134