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  • When I was young (and dumb) I did some things that you cannot do in this era.

    While in the Navy we used to hitch-hike from Norfolk up to New York or from Norfolk down to South Carolina. I once rode in a truck (an old Freightliner) that had a passenger seat that shook you to death – probably the worse. But I was young and loving being out on the road finding out about life.

    I once hitch-hiked across America; well, ok, it was only from St. Louis to West Virginia and back. Details, details…

    I had just mustered out of the Navy and was going to college. The ship I had been on was due to arrive back in its homeport and upon arrival my good buddy "Truck" was getting out. I knew he would be headed home and we had previously arranged that when they returned I would make my way to West "By God" Virginia to visit.

    I made a small sign with WVA on one side and MO on the other so I could use it both ways – pretty smart you say? I started out one morning with my backpack and sleeping bag and headed for the highway. Sign in hand I must have stood there for about 45 minutes before a car stopped and picked me up. She was younger woman although older than I and she took me about half the way across Illinois. Today, I do not see many hitch-hikers and a woman would not stop to pick one up. But this was in the early 70’s during the counter-culture revolution so this meant people reaching out to one another as brother and sister. Good old days.

    My next ride was from an older man that took me into Indiana somewhere near Indianapolis. I bid him adieu and it wasn’t long until I met probably the nicest people ever.

    There was a woman, her young daughter, and two men about my age. I piled in with them and they took me all the way to Morgantown, West Virginia. We stopped several times and ate, filled up with gas and the like and just enjoyed travelling together. Like I said, they were real nice folks.

    When we reached Morgantown, I was ready to say my goodbyes when the two men asked if I needed a place to stay for the night. It was getting dark and I really had no place to go so I accepted their invitation to stay at their house sleeping on the sofa in the living room. The next morning I awoke and was invited to have breakfast – not much, a bowl of grape nuts as I recall. We strolled around their vegetable garden eating grape nuts and talking, enjoying the morning sunshine. When I was done eating I said I really needed to get going as it was still a long way to my destination. The two of them then pointed me in the right direction and we waved goodbye.

    It took another six or seven hours hiking and hitching before I finally made it to Keyser. My visit with my shipmate was made better by the fact that another shipmate "Buzz" lived across the river in Westernport Maryland and he too was home; so it was like a reunion. We played guitars and drove around the countryside enjoying our freedom.

    I returned home the same way I got there (hitch-hiking), although the journey home was not as exciting as the one there.

    I will never forget the people that helped me on the road. May God always bless them.

    BTW: I still keep in contact with these guys. Like most servicemen, we are a band of brothers and that bond is never broken.

    Picture is of me and "Truck" on the ASROC deck of the Hawk.
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