When Hitchhiking was Safe!
When was the last time you picked up a hitchhiker? Or have you not ever – and in today’s world – Would you ever?
During the 50’s and 60’s and maybe even into the 70’s – people often picked up a man in uniform. Most men in that time frame had served, as the draft was still in place, and they knew the problems facing those young men – trying to get home on leave. There was a male-bonding whenever they saw a guy in uniform. My father was one of those guys – he never passed up a guy in uniform. Maybe daddy remembered being one of those guys once as he traveled home on leave and back to base; money was always tight.
As a young girl, I loved when daddy picked up those young boys and I’m sure I probably acted all silly – daddy probably squashed any flirting on my part!
Many weekends found my parents packing the station wagon and heading to my grandparents farm – and it was often on those trips when daddy came across a couple of service guys hitchhiking – and always in uniform.
My father never drove by and left them standing; they always got a ride, even if it meant going out of his way to drop them off at their destination.
Mama remembers daddy picking up a couple of Navy guys on one trip; they kept a constant chatter about the ships they had served on; my father served on the USS Washburn and the USS Blue Ridge. I sure wish my “ears” had been on during those conversation, as I might have learned a few “tid-bits” about his Navy career. I might have finally learned about that day in 1946 at Bikini Atoll when the atomic bomb testing took place. My father was on-board the USS Blue Ridge for all three tests. If you’d like to read a story on the Bikini Atoll bomb testings; https://jinsalacoblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/week-36-september-13-2014-52-ancestor-52-week-blog-anchors-aweigh-u-s-n-harold-clayton-bryan/
If only I had this interest when I was young – and the more I read on the bomb testing, the more interest I acquire. It would have been so exciting to have heard first hand from my father, of what he saw and experienced. Now I can only learn from reading other accounts.
After my parents divorce, my mother moved back to the small town of Siloam, Georgia; back to the farm where she would live and care for her father. She remembered driving through town one day and seeing an Army soldier standing in town on the corner with his bag – looking lost. In her words, “what is this guy doing here in this small “no traffic light” farm town.” She felt sorry for him and picked him up. He had been dropped off on I-20 a few miles out of town and was now lost! She thought nothing of picking him up and driving him over to the next town to pick up I-20 again. Knowing mama, I’m sure she had her trusty friend hiding under the seat or in her purse.
When my mother worked at Holiday Inn and traveled I-20 late at night, she always carried Uncle Joe’s revolver in her purse. It was the same one used when he was sheriff in town. It seems our family ran the town; besides my grandfather’s brother being the sheriff, his first cousin was the mayor. Siloam was a small one-horse town where everyone knew everyone – and their business! But it was a safe one-horse town.
Hitchhiking was just another part of society when times were different.
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© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco