I started out in Jacksonville, Florida. I was getting thrown off beaches and stuck in jail overnight because they wouldn't let you sleep on the beach down there. I was just hitchhiking all across the country. Anyway, the police in Jacksonville released me and told me to get out of town in 24 hours. I met this guy Pinky, and he says to me, "You ain't getting a ride out of here from anyone. You might as well just catch out." I'd never ridden a train before so I didn't know what the hell he was talking about.
So he asks if I want a beer and I did. He asks if I have any money, if I've got a job, I tell him no. "Well, just wait here and I'll get you something." He brought me back two 40-ouncers of beer. Two hours later, I'm following him to jump on a train. I had this little goddamn Boy Scout pack back then -- hell, I was just about 16 -- and I passed that up to him on the train and he says, "Hop on!" That train was a loader. The car was just this big, black car with the sides open. Carries junk and scrap, usually. I never slept the whole night. I was just amazed how easy it was not to have to beg for a ride. I wasn't cold or anything, but by the time we got to New Orleans the next day I was filthy as hell. Fell in love with it that night.
I got the name Frog because I'm from Canada and I had a habit of speaking French in my sleep. I used to go by the name Canadian Wetback but when I got busted and put in immigration jail for a few days they said I needed to get a different name, anything else, so Frog stuck.
Travel light, that's the first and foremost thing. Always keep your ears and eyes open. Just have a bedroll and maybe a change of clothes you can wrap up in your bedroll, and make sure the colors are dark so you can be somewhat disguised on the train. And if you're waiting in the jungle to catch it's easier to go undetected.
You can bring a flashlight, but I wouldn't myself because if you have one of those you'll end up babysitting people all the time.
I spent 31 years doing it, altogether. I was Hobo King in '97. But I had to retire back in 2001 when my leg got amputated. The right leg those kids crushed. Surgery after surgery and they just never could get it to heal right.