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The "Wisdom" of Hitchhiking

While in the Army stationed in California I was chronically short of cash. As a result I hitch-hiked wherever I wanted to go and I traveled all over the state.

When it came time to be discharged I decided to send my bags home by baggage and hitch-hike back to my home in Nebraska. It turned into quite an experience.

Before leaving the Presidio at San Francisco I had two wisdom teeth pulled. They would not discharge me until my temperature was down. I was in agony by determined not to spend another day in the Army! I ate aspirin like candy until my temperature was down and then went for my final exam. I passed. Later I would wonder if it was a smart move.

My first big adventure came at the small town of Fermly, Nevada, which is just east of Reno. I was let out there and began to think I would never catch a ride. All of a sudden a bright red La Salle went by me going like a bat out of hell. I ignored it and went back to watching for oncoming traffic. All of a sudden I became aware of something coming at me from the back. It was the bright red La Salle backing up at high speed.

The passenger, a short fat lady of about 300 pounds weight, rolled down the window and asked, "Need a ride, soldier?" Why else would I be there, so I popped my bags in the trunk and got in. The driver was a shriveled up little guy that probably weighed 90 pounds and might have stood 5 foot 4 inches. He was the husband of the lady. I sat in the back with a gorgeous, blonde knockout who was their niece. And oh yes, they had a monkey which was running all over the car.

When we took off with spinning wheels and in a cloud of dust we were still accelerating when the wife began to harp to the driver about driving so slow. The driver told me that she was complaining because he would only drive 100 m.p.h. We were soon at that speed and she kept complaining. All the time they kept me amused by telling tall stories, perhaps true, about their nefarious relatives who were horse thieves and outlaws in the early days of Nevada. Of course I was trying to get friendly with the beautiful niece but the monkey wasn't helping that process very much. That was bad enough but it kept getting on the dashboard in front of the driver and passenger who kept trying to chase it to the back seat.

When we got to the top of a pass, the driver suddenly pulled over to the side, crawled out and told his wife to drive. He had had enough of her complaints. She promptly took over and we were off. Sure enough, she had the speedometer pegged at whatever that was. I think it was 120 MPH. Between my aching teeth, the carousing monkey, the distraction of the blonde and the power poles flashing by like a picket fence, the only thing that I could think of was how I was going to get out of this mess.

Fortunately, I had not told them my destination so when we approached Carlin, Nevada, some 240 miles later, I told them that was my destination and they stopped and let me out. I was never so glad to get my feet on the ground. My only regret was that I never made the grade with the niece!

The rest of my trip was anticlimatic. I went to Buhl, Idaho, where I was going to be employed a month later. There the pain became so terrific that I saw a dentist who gave me some pain pills and removed some stitches and sent me on my way.

Going through Colorado, I got a ride with a young man and we had a very pleasant ride. As we were going through the deserted western areas, we saw lots of jack rabbits. He suggested I shoot at them as we were going along. Come to find out he had a loaded .38 sitting on the seat next to us and covered with his jacket. That was somewhat unnerving.

Leaving Colorado Springs I got a ride with in a truck. I had no sooner gotten in than the driver declared he was tired and asked me to drive. When we passed a weigh station he instructed me to drive on by. I did so and kept waiting for the Highway Patrol to pull me over and wondered what I would say when it happened. Fortunately, it never did happen.

I drove to Grand Island where his route took off from mine. After trying for about six hours to get a ride, I called my dad to come and get me. It was only 50 miles from home and I was determined to make it all the way but eventually gave up.

It was a most exciting trip. It was also the last time I ever hitch-hiked! Never again.


P.S. This may sound as if it is a made-up story. I swear to you every word is true



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