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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I went seeking history and found humble generosity instead. During my family's five-week 2001 Pacific Northwest vacation trip, we made a side trip to Moses Lake, Washington to see ex-Alaska Railroad steam locomotive #557. Monte Holm, a collector extraordinaire, owns Moses Lake Iron and Metal and Moses Lake Steel. He also owned the House of Poverty Museum which showcased his collections of antique cars, whiskey bottles, sewing machines, and even old Alaska steam engine #557.

Monte greeted us warmly and immediately offered us handfuls of Werther candies. He gave the kids and my wife each a Susan B. Anthony coin telling us not to spend it but to hold on to it for luck. Even though I had just come to see #557, Monte insisted his assistant take us on a tour of his multi-million dollar museum of collections. At the end of the tour, our whole family was able to get into the cab of #557 and play engineer.

Returning to Monte's bedraggled office, I purchased his autobiography, "Once a Hobo..." and had him sign it. He even let me take a photo of him with his car with its license plate, "IOWNARR." He was proud of the fact that he had acquired this locomotive and later the Alaska Railroad asked unsuccessfully to purchase it back.

For the next week, my wife read his autobiography aloud to us in the car. I was amazed to discover this humble, unassuming man had risen from poverty to great fortune, all via hard work, positive atitude and generosity. I felt very honored to have crossed paths with this "life force."

On May 5, 2006 this world lost one of its most extraordinary individuals when Monte Holm passed away at the age of 89. He wasn't a movie star or sports hero. He was just an honest, kind-hearted person who used his life to help so many of those around him. Thanks Monte for the life changing transformation you made in my life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2000
Monte Holm lived a nightmare shared by many in his generation. Money, jobs, place, self-respect. These things were in very short supply in America when Monte had to leave home. An entire generation found a way to survive and emerge from that period of American history with their entrepreneurial spirit intact. Monte's story should be required reading for all children in America so that we never forget what it takes to be an American in hard times. Things seem to come pretty easily now days. We need to read this true story so as to remember that it was and may not always be so. Clay and Holm have recounted a true-life adventure that would be unbelievable were it not so expertly written. Monte recounts real people and real places as he was forced to travel about America in search of life. As you read you can see Monte's value system being tested and enforced. The book is full of life's lessons and will be an ecouragement to generations to come.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2001
I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Dennis Clay, and getting an autographed copy of,'Once A Hobo'. I have really enjoyed reading and going along on the journey of Monte Holm's life and everything that he had to do in order to survive. This is a book that anyone would enjoy reading and be glad that we live in this day and age.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2001
When I saw Once A Hobo, I saw trains , hobos and a great gift for my cousin. Railroads were part of life when we were growing up. It was my intent before parting with it to read a couple of chapters. But, I had finished the book before I laid it down again. A good story teller hooked me into each of his short easy reading chapters with just enough bait to lure me into the next and the next. Familiar times, familiar places, familiar experiences, there were so many connections I could not lay it down. One gift book of nostalgia with its trains, hobos and cowboy days kept growing into three gifts, four and more. It is a must read, easy to read book about life and values. The young Monte Holm persevered through the worst of times, developed the confidence and innovation to survive, to marry, to build a business and through it all to see the glimmer of the best of times. The experiences, the places and the people are all real, triggering connections to people and places today. Our grandson in high school, each of the other grandchildren and children kept coming to mind as I just kept reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2001
Understanding the degree of hardship endured by those of an earlier generation should make anyone who reads this riveting book grateful for the blessings we daily take for granted. Dennis and Monte team up to tell a tale that was probably common during the Depression. It is a tale I heard my own father tell as he, too, left home at age 13 to ride the rails to Wichita where his Uncle Jerry lived. My father left home when his mother died and his father began abusing him with his fists. Uncle Jerry wasn't much easier on my dad, but at least he didn't beat him with regularity. But life wasn't easy for a kid back then and this book brings home that fact and more.
I enjoyed it wholeheartedly!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2001
It brought back memories of the late 20's and the Depression. I am the same age as Monte and remember there were no jobs. The boys would hop on the freight cars hoping to find work in other towns. Dennis' book brought back all these memories. It was very well written and depicted what the boys went through traveling from town to town looking for work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2003
My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Holm recently. He is one of the most warm and inviting people we have ever met! He made us feel as if we've been friends for ever. I just ordered his book, Once A Hobo and look very forward to receiving it. While at Mr. Holm's business, we were treated to a private tour of his "House of Poverty" museum. Very impressive! Definitely worth the time. He also shared his own copy of his book with us and some of the stories of his life. We hated to have to leave. If you have the opportunity to stop and meet Mr. Holm, I highly encourage you to do so. He is in Moses Lake, WA. Not hard to find, just ask anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2003
This is a very enjoyable read.
I found ONCE A HOBO by Monte Holm as told to Dennis Clay to be a fascinating true story of a Horatio Alger like character. Mr. Clay puts you into the shoes of a young boy struggling through the adversities of the great depression. It is also a success story demonstrating that hard work and faith can overcome seemingly overwhelming hardships. It makes you feel good and wanting to meet Mr. Holm. It was a welcome change of pace to my usual reading. I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2005
My husband and I had the pleasure of also meeting Monte Holm and touring his wonderful House of Poverty museum. He will soon be 90 so we valued every bit of conversation with him. His story and museum in Moses Lake, WA, were fascinating. We ended up at Moses Lake by accident, but that stop was one of the best highlights of our entire trip. I would encourage anyone to buy this wonderful book. This man is positive proof that anyone can be a success in America with hard work and a positive attitude.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I happen to live in Moses Lake, the same town with Monte Holm. He has been everything the reviews say he is. He has given back to this town in later years more than most people will ever know. I highly recommend this book. I couldn't put it down until I was finished. An amazing story about an amazing man I have been privileged to know.
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