Stories for My Grandchildren
|Hitchhiking, at this
writing in 2010, is a thing of the past. My earliest recollection of
using this mode of transportation is when my brother, Cliff and I would
go to town to catch the 1:00 p.m. Saturday Matinee.
But we weren't strangers to this art. Our parents, coming out of the WWII era, never passed a soldier or sailor without giving them a ride. I remember times when we we be heading to New Jersey from Virginia in the mid 1950s and there would always be servicemen "hitching" up and down Highways 17, 13, or 301. There always seemed to be a huge gathering at the entrance to the "Jersey Turnpike."
If we had a car with three seats in the back then that's how many fellows we would pick up. Often my brother and I would either have to squeeze in or sit on someone's lap.
My hitchhiking trips would get longer as I aged. In the early 60s it was nothing to "thumb a ride" wherever we would go. I remember one time while living in Springfield, Ohio my friend and I wanted to go see "The Four Seasons" who was about the biggest singing group there was at that time. We hitchhiked 20-30 miles getting there just in time to pay our $2.00.
Later, when I was in military school I took a couple of nice trips during Holiday breaks. One trip was from Millersburg, Kentucky to see my father & step-mom just outside of Detroit, Michigan, about 340 miles. Another time was during Easter break my friend Bobby Walker and I "thumbed" to Cincinnati and then to his home in Nashville, Tennessee totaling over 400 miles on the routes we had to take back then.
During my early days in the Marine Corps I couldn't afford a car so everywhere I went I hitchhiked. Just about every weekend or two I would hitch from Camp Lejeune, NC to Waycross, GA where my father lived. Some of those trips were grand experiences. People were still very patriotic towards the military and I would get picked-up by veterans and their families the same way my mom and dad use to. Quite often they would stop for dinner or breakfast and treat me. The last time I can remember hitchhiking was in April of 1972. By this time, the Hippie generation had just about ruined the free ride system. Vehicle owners were becoming more and more aware of who they were picking up. Hitchhiking became illegal in many places. It was mostly a wonderful experience for me.