The Hitch-Hiking Hoodoos

I was reading clickclack gorilla’s hitching story and it dawned on me what’s going on in Europe with hitch-hiking is entirely different from it in the US.  Evidently thumbing rides there still includes ‘respectable’ people.  It wasn’t so long ago the same was true in the US.

As a youngster and young man I hitched across the US up-down and sideways more times than I’ve traveled it any other way.  In the military it used to be the most common way soldiers traveled, but it was also a legitimate way of getting to a destination for anyone else, as well.  When I got out of jail for riding trains in Rochester, New York, in 1964, the judge at the arraignment told me, “Don’t you know hopping trains in New York is a FELONY?”

“No sir.  I didn’t know that.”

“Is there someone you can contact to get money for a bus ticket to get back to New Mexico?”

“No sir, there isn’t.”

“I’m going to say this, then I’m going to let you go.  Hitch-hiking is only a misdemeanor in New York.”

After I was released a police officer drove me out to the Interstate and let me off at a freeway entrance.  And way led onto way.

All that hitching as a youth was an adventure I suspect a lot of people alive today haven’t experienced.  Every trip was a hundred stories, including the one above.  And every hitch-hiker I’ve picked up over the decades since [I still do] has been a story in itself.  I keep a case of Dinty Moore stew in the truck and usually give them a can or two if they’ve convinced me they’re hungry.

Today people are generally frightened of hitch-hikers, or just don’t believe the potential feel-good rewards of picking them up is worth the risk of getting robbed, assaulted, or just being trapped inside a vehicle with a person who smells as though he’s been on the road a while is worth it.  I’d opine they’re thinking smart.   I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had some close calls, both hitching, and picking up hitch-hikers.

But I do it anyway, and I’m glad I do, glad I have, wouldn’t trade having done it for the alternative.

I’m thinking I might throw in a few of those hitch-hiking, hitch-hiker tales on this blog occasionally.  Some are chilling, some are strange, but every one is unique.

Old Jules


8 responses to “The Hitch-Hiking Hoodoos


    Those were good days! We used to hitch hike from Norman to Santa Fe on a regular basis for a few years there (1968-1973). There were times I would even go it alone and the worse that ever happened is a trucker might ask “do you believe in that free love?” and when I would say nope, that would be the end of it.

    • Hi blueskiessunnydays. Happy to see you here. Yep, hitching was a whole different thing in those days. For that matter, so was free love. Took us a while to discover it wasn’t free, as I recall. Gracias, Jules

  2. I courted the mother of my daughter in 1958 hitchhiking in Southern California. I was in the Navy on a ship at Terminal Island and had a whole 80 dollars a month to blow. I always wore dress blues when hitchhiking and got picked up almost instantly. That was back when there were orange groves between the towns in Orange county. Now there are only more houses between them.

  3. There was a time, growing up in Alaska, during certain months of the year it was illegal to pass up a hitchhiker. These days, I honestly haven’t seen any in years, but I never go anywhere. Not sure what I would do if I saw one, now.

  4. Hi Ed,
    Very interesting site and articles. Really thankful for sharing.Will surely recommend this site to some friends!


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