Sally the Hobo

 Posted by on September 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm  Season 1, Season 3, Season 4
Sep 232010

Guest post by Basketcase JB

In an interesting twist, Sally has become another hobo in Don’s life as she rides the rails to New York City to escape her confining, cheerless existence. The hobo has been a recurring Mad Men theme, beginning with Season 1’s ‘Hobo Code’, to Season 3’s ‘The Gypsy and the Hobo’, plus last week’s inclusion of the hobo anthem, ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ at little Gene’s birthday party.

In retrospect, closing episode 8 with ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ gave us a hint of what Sally was about to do in episode 9, as the song is about the hobo’s paradise – free of struggles, punishment and want.  Episode 8 gave us the cleaned-up kiddie version, about a sugared land of candy and soda pop, but Don probably knows the gritty original (as heard in the film ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’) with its whiskey lake and cigarette trees, where ‘they hung the jerk who invented work.’ (If Roger Sterling had a theme song, would this be it?)

At her father’s apartment, Sally got a taste of life on ‘Big Rock’ updated for the sixties, with delivered pizza on demand. And she conforms to the definition of a hobo as a traveling worker; like the one from Dick Whitman’s youth, she’s willing to do odd jobs (e.g., making breakfast). This isn’t the 1930s, however.

But if Sally knew the hobo code, how would she mark her father’s door? Would it be with a knife, the symbol of betrayal, for the man who made her go back to Ossining?



  9 Responses to “Sally the Hobo”

  1. no, it wouldnt be a knife- she loves her dad. no, you look at that solemn, grave little face with those huge speaking eyes, and the busy little brain behind them- its been fascinating to me to read the consistent refrain from many posts and several blogs, of what will become of Sally- some are very dark! ( drug overdoses and such) I dont think so. shes incredibly resourceful already- and learning more every minute. I know from experience that kids can endure, survive and even (so trite!) thrive from abusive situations. my favorite scene in this episode was at the end, when the women are gathering, watchful, to watch Betty taking Sally . a new force is gathering , the collective will of women. I think thats a sign. And the AUDIBLE scratch of bettys gloves on sallys shoulder !

  2. No, no knife. She does love her dad. She might be angry with him. So what’s new? I was sent back to my own Betty & understand her now. Doesn’t mean that I have much to do with either parent. But I went on to work with children & humanitarian concerns. My third sister, a Daddy’s girl, it was hardest on her. It’s still a problem for her. I just keep my mouth shut about the things my father did when two of us were older & the younger two were, in a way, a different family. I always have felt it was worse for them because watching them see my father (& mother) plunge into just the worst sorts of activities was a true shock. There’s a reason the four of us say we’re sisters, never four daughters.

    Thanks, though, for this & the others who are interested in Sally. BTW, an older second cousin was very Joan & she was the coolest person to hang out with…she might’ve been a bit blunt, but she was usually (not always!:) right.

  3. Megan’s desk would get a cat, meaning that a kind lady lives here.

    Don’s apartment might get a wavy line above an X, which would signify a campsite and fresh water.

    There might be a spearhead at the Francis residence, warning hobos to be prepared to defend themselves.

    I don’t think Sally will stay mad at her father, because in her heart, she knew that her father was right. She ran away, she made a fuss, and back then, adults didn’t put up with tantrums.

  4. Talking to friends who were raising daughter the age of Sally in Westchester in 1965 the consensus is in real life the immediate future for Sally would be bleak. Some had friends who sent girls like Sally to strict boarding schools of convents, especially those in Pennsylvania where corporal punishment was the norm.

    The majority who knew women like Betty see the scene minutes she drags Sally to her room in Ossining. In that scenario a hairbrush has a starring role and Sally’s panties do not.

    Some of those same friends received Reno divorces. They all agree that the only way Don would get custody of Sally would be with Betty’s consent.

    Perhaps if Don were to remarry a woman about Betty’s age who was content to be a stay at home mom, possibly a woman with inherited wealth greater than Betty’s, then Sally might be happy there.

    This is Mad Men with MM Logic. We will just have to wait for future episodes. In her recent AMC interview Kiernan Shipka was asked if “The Beautiful Girls” was her favorite episode. Kiernan answered that in fact a future Season 4 episode was her favorite, but she could not discuss why. So if there is an episode with more intense Sally action, that will be worth the wait!

  5. A word about Sally Draper’s train trip to New York City. Ossining New York is 30 miles away from Grand Central Station in New York City. Ossining New York is on the New York Central Railroad. The New York Central operated all rail commuter service in and out of Ossining during the era of Mad Men. Today it is operated by Metro North. The New York Central merged with The Pennsylvania in 1968 to form the Penn Central; which filed its infamous Bankruptcy in 1970. The two railroads were bitter rivals and the merger ill advised. One of Mad Men’s biggest flubs was when Don Draper told Betty’s brother that he, Judy and the girls would return home on the Broadway Limited from Grand Central. The Broadway Limited ran from Penn Station and Draper would have known that being the advertising man and all. Sally is smarter than the average ten year old. She did get on the right train for Grand Central, she could have gotten on a train for Poughkeepsie instead.

  6. Somebody on another MM discussion flagged the fact that Sally was reading a Nancy Drew book and said that Nancy Drew lived with her dad. It is obviously Sally’s fantasy, but given the 4x per week sessions with the shrink and the advice to give her more independence, and Betty snarling “YOU take care of her” maybe Betty WILL shove her off on Don–she’s getting old enough she could navigate back and forth to school in Manhattan. Lots of families lived in Greenwich Village in the ’60’s.

  7. Wow thanks for explaining about the trains, Bob K! I love Metro North so much that I think I imagined it had always been around, and I was confused that Don’s train didn’t look like a Metro North to me.

  8. I love your analogy about hobos! I think Vivian Winters told Don that she found Sally in between train cars trying to avoid the conductor since she didn’t have any money. That’s just what a hobo would do.

    I never knew about the hobo’s anthem, ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain.’

  9. I agree no knife. Sally is not at that point yet. She is resourceful though and she would want all the other women out of Don’s apartment while she is gone. A symbol to make them think before entering – like a skull and crossbones or maybe a thumbs down?

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