Hitchhiking

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Ken Anderson, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    I decided to post this here, rather than in the Travel & Vacation sub-forum, because it deals with travels that I made many years ago, and is more of a reminiscence than a travel report.

    Like many of you, I graduated from high school before Pell Grants and other programs that would pay the way for any yahoo who wanted to go to college and, although I did reasonably okay in high school, I was neither the valedictorian nor the salutatorian of my class, and my scholarships didn't come close to paying the costs of college. Nor could my dad afford it, as his house burned to the ground during my first semester in college. I was able to afford college later, but that's another story.

    Too young to find work worth doing, and too poor to go on the college, I spent about a year or more hitchhiking around the country, returning home every now and then for a week or two, then heading off again.

    At that time, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it didn't matter whether I had any money with me. I might leave home with a nickel, be gone for months, and still manage to avoid starvation.

    Although I touched most of the contiguous United States, I did avoid some of the Southern states, like Mississippi and Alabama, as my hair was down to the middle of my back and I had visions of being murdered in the South.

    As it was, there were only a couple of scary situations. One guy who stopped for me seemed nice enough at first, so I told him where I was going. Sometimes, I would give a destination along the way, which made it easier for me to ask to be let out early. Anyhow, this guy talked non-stop, and it wasn't long before I realized that he wasn't making a lot of sense. He told me about how much he loved his wife, and how he was going home to kill her, and he emphasized this by pulling a handgun out from alongside the seat.

    Luckily, I wasn't carrying much, and the only bag I had with me was on the floor. Otherwise, if I were carrying a backpack, I'd have placed it in the backseat. When he stopped for a traffic light in a fairly well-lit place, I bailed out and ran, hiding in a restaurant until I was pretty sure he was gone.

    Then there were a couple of guys who picked me up while I was hitchhiking with a friend. They too seemed friendly enough. Then they stopped to pick up a couple of friends of theirs, and the atmosphere changed. Nothing ever developed from it, and they dropped us off where we asked to be dropped off, which was an early exit. Maybe we were just paranoid about these guys, but something didn't feel right. It was like they had planned something when they went in to get their friends.

    After hitchhiking for a while, you get a feel for people, and there were several people who stopped for me while I was hitchhiking who I declined to ride with, because it seemed wrong.

    Most people were nice enough, though, and it mostly didn't seem to be very dangerous at all. One day, I was hitchhiking outside of Riverside, California, when my second ride after leaving Pasadena brought me to my dad's house in Wallace, Michigan, and he only went a mile out of his way.

    It was a strange time, and there were times when the country seemed small. Nearly every time I was hitchhiking on Route 66 through New Mexico, I'd get dropped off at Tucumcari. I was a regular at a restaurant in Tucumcari, so much so that the waitresses would sometimes remember me.

    There was a mission in Albuquerque where hitchhikers and other strange people would stay. It was a Christian mission of some sort, run by someone who was known as Brother Bob. Although I had stayed there a few times, I had never met Brother Bob. One day, I was there with a couple of friends with who I was hitchhiking. They were going to drive up to the mountains with someone to see some lights, and I wasn't into the kind of drugs that these guys seemed to be taking so I decided to stay behind at Brother Bob's. Everyone else was off somewhere, and I woke up hearing someone shouting about dying for Christ.

    "Are you prepared to meet Christ?" he shouted, and I was sure that meant that he was going to kill me. It was Brother Bob, and I guess he was launching into a sermon, but he scared the hell out of me, which was the purpose, I suppose.

    I made a retreat pretty quick, still not completely persuaded that it was a sermon, and not a death threat. I walked to a restaurant, where I recognized someone who was also staying at Brother Bob's. We spent about an hour there before deciding to see if it was safe to go back to Brother Bob's. This was in 1969.

    In May of 1971, I was in Washington, D.C. during an anti-war rally. There, sitting in front of the Justice Department building, was the guy I had spent an hour with in that restaurant in Albuquerque. I could tell that he had recognized me, but I wasn't sure where I knew him from. Then he asked, "Brother Bob's?"

    There were times, hitchhiking, when I didn't even care which direction I went, and there were other times when I was in no hurry to get a ride, particularly when the weather was nice.

    In California, it wasn't uncommon for there to be a couple of dozen people hitchhiking on the same freeway onramp. I could lie down and sleep, and someone would wake me up when it was my turn for a ride by saying, "Hey, you're up!"

    Flagstaff, Arizona had a bad reputation among hitchhikers. Apparently, the Flagstaff police were known to arrest people for being in Flagstaff without a job, and I never tested that. Hitchhikers would ordinarily ask if someone was going all the way through Flagstaff and, if they said they would be stopping somewhere in the city limits, ask to be dropped off outside the city limits, to wait for a ride all the way through.

    There too, there might be a dozen or more people on a traffic island waiting for a ride through Flagstaff. One day, someone brought a watermelon and we had a picnic.

    There were also lonely times. Late one night, somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona, there was no traffic at all. It was cold and it was pitch dark, the only noises being scary ones from somewhere in the desert. I was traveling light, without a sleeping bag. I had a very light jacket and a change of clothing. It was so dark that my eyes wouldn't even adjust to the lack of light, and I could barely see the highway.

    I decided to find a place to sleep since there was no traffic. I found a place where there was concrete or pavement extending beyond the highway. I couldn't see anything but the paved area didn't keep going so I knew it wasn't a road. I decided to sleep there.

    First, I put my change of clothing beneath me and the jacket on top of me. It was cold and, when I slept, it was in increments of only a few minutes at a time, I think. I thought the night would never end.

    When the sun finally came up enough so that I could view my surroundings, I found that I was in a culvert near a bridge. It was disgusting, with trash lying everywhere, and I felt very bad about myself.

    Mostly, however, there were good times, or at least interesting ones, and I am happy to have been able to experience them.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  2. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Supreme Member
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    "For better or for worse........"?
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Faye Fox

    Faye Fox Veteran Member
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    @Ken Anderson I traveled Route 66 Amarillo to Albuquerque frequently from 1966 - 1969. I never picked up a hitchhiker. It was just too risky for a young woman traveling alone even though I had my Colt 45 easy to reach, under the seat in a holster attached to the horse blanket seat cover. Had I known you were a good guy, I would have stopped. Too many scary things happening especially the stretch from Tucumcari to Albuquerque. Moriarty was usually where I stopped to gas up and eat before turning off 66 at Albuquerque and taking the long desolate bad lonely road across the Apache reservation headed to Colorado.

    My favorite stop was at Blackies for lunch after fueling up at the Texaco

    Blackies.jpg
     
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  4. Marie Mallery

    Marie Mallery Veteran Member
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    \
    ", as my hair was down to the middle of my back and I had visions of being murdered in the South." :D were you afraid of bubuh?
     
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  5. Marie Mallery

    Marie Mallery Veteran Member
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    Mama carried a Pearl Handle S&W 38 and could use it.She would pick up hikers now and then ,she could also shoot the heads off water moccasins at 6 yards and nothing much scared her.A real Calamity Jane wanna be.
     
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  6. Ed Wilson

    Ed Wilson Veteran Member
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    We always hitchhiked when we were kids just to get from town to town and never worried about it back then. We would walk down a dusty road in the summer to swim in the river and got all sweaty and dirty doing so. After cooling off and getting washed in the river, we crossed the railroad bridge to the other side and hitchhiked back home so we didn't have to get dusty and sweaty again.

    In the service, one of the guys was going home on a long weekend to Flint Michigan from Illinois where we were stationed and we were invited. We went in his car but hitchhiked back to the base because he had more time off than we did. We wore our uniforms and never spent more than 5 minutes with our thumbs out.
     
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  7. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Supreme Member
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  8. Marie Mallery

    Marie Mallery Veteran Member
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    Those were the days my freind. And thanks for your service too.
    We use to love to swim in the rivers,lakes creks whatever.When the power went out we bathed in them too.
     
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  9. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    Thanks, @Joe Riley. There's a lot of good stuff from our first year or two when we didn't have a lot of members here, and it was a lot easier for threads to die with the opening post.
     
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  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    Pretty much, yeah. The South was a scary place when you grew up in the North and heard the stories.
     
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  11. Marie Mallery

    Marie Mallery Veteran Member
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    Most of us were ok espacially during the 60s and on.
     
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  12. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Supreme Member
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  13. Janine Coral

    Janine Coral Very Well-Known Member
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    In my life, I have hitchhiked about three times, back in the 70's. Stuck each
    time on a country road, with a flat tire, or some sort of significant vehicle
    issue, it all went ok, but good gosh I would not ever consider it since then.

    A family member of mine very recently hitchhiked and the outcome was
    not good. Hopefully she won't consider doing it again.


    **If a repeat topic, please delete*
     
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  14. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    No need to delete. I just merged them.
     
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  15. Janine Coral

    Janine Coral Very Well-Known Member
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    Ken, your post/experience was worth the read, that is for sure.
     
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