Saturday, 6 July 2013

Bindle

Bindle-stick, Bindle-stiff, Vagrant, Itinerant, Drifter, Runaway
A hobo and his bindle
(picture from TV Tropes)

BINDLE

Noun. North American slang. Early 20th century.
[Probably alteration of BUNDLE noun.]

A bundle or package; especially a tramp's bundle of bedding etc.

Also: bindle-stiff a tramp carrying a bundle of bedding etc.

When I was about seven, I decided to run away. There wasn't really any reason for it, other than I had probably been reading too much Huckleberry Finn, Swiss Family Robinson and, of course, Dick Whittington and His Cat. I went through a stage of meticulous planning, which included packing up my bindle (à la Dick), hitching a ride on a boat (à la Huck) and somehow ending up on a desert island, building a hill fort and fighting off bands of attacking pirates (à la the Robinsons - at least in my favourite film adaptation). 

Naturally, at seven, there were certain flaws in my plan (including the idea of taking the gas canister from our kitchen heater so that I could roll it down the hill and blow up the pirates), and the whole thing never actually came to fruition. However, the bindle was central to the plan, and was perhaps the most plausible aspect of the whole idea. In it, I planned to carry some books (including my SAS survival guide and a journal), food, twine, a compass and a magnifying glass. There was no accounting for any clean underwear or soap - such things are not of concern to young boys. 

Even though I never had my adventure, and it never left my head or the scraps of paper on which I scribbled my notes, the bindle still stirs romantic notions of adventure, excitement and mystery. Even in adulthood, who hasn't toyed with the idea of just packing up and leaving all your troubles behind, even if these notions are just as impractical and unrealistic as those of a seven year old boy? 

If you had to pack up your bindle right now, what would take with you? And it's a bindle, remember! No TVs or deck chairs. And certainly no gas canisters!

Do please comment below. 

13 comments:

  1. When I was a kid, I was convinced I was adopted (especially when the curly hair kicked in, no idea where that suddenly came from). So one day I packed some stuff in a little woven basket - no bindle, sorry - and walked out the door. I think I "ran away" to about 100 m from our front door, when I got tired of it and walked back home.

    Want to know what I'd packed? An apple, a Barbie doll, a cookie and a little blanket. I would've lasted for days, I'm sure!

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    1. Aww ... a little woven basket! Just like Little Red Riding Hood! Well, Bibi, you got further than I did - bindle or no bindle.

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  2. I'd put a kindle in my bindle.

    -clueless

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    1. The *only* reason you're taking your Kindle in your bindle is because Kindle rhymes with bindle?

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  3. So that's what those things are called! Sounds like you were a very sensible little chap with what you chose to take. I did run away from home at 14 on the back of a motorbike and I took my fags and make up bag with me - no bindle though... Whenever I leave the house these days, I always have a handbag (my bindle) and always have a brolly, my purse, keys and mobile - yes, I have become my Mother.

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    1. I think I've become your mother, too. Oh, and don't forget a pack of tissues, a pen and a notepad.

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    2. And desinfectant hand gel, if you frequently use public transportation.

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    3. Hmm. I suspect that a bindle wouldn't carry a lot of street cred these days, regardless of what was packed in it.

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  4. When I was just into my teens, I had a little accident with my father's truck (driving on the farm before legal age is typical here). This necessitated a hastily packed "bindle" in the form of a denim backpack. I was terrified, thinking life as I knew it was over. I was a goner if dad got his hands on me. In my frantically thrown together backpack, I packed readily available snacks, a flashlight (as my first stop in running away was to be our barn loft; incidentally, that is as far as I got), some books, a pen, and a notebook.

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    1. Oh Kara! Sorry I missed this comment - I crashed my Dad's car when I was little too (although ... ahem ... I was only about four). I must say you're all very practical in your bindle packing - why didn't I think to take a torch?? Maybe because there wouldn't be any shops for batteries on my desert island - I can't quite remember the reasoning behind it : o )

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