Tales of Open Road

A Really Bad Day

... I have never worked so hard before or since ....

Tales of the Open Road, by Bill Jodrey

One evening in July I was approaching the city of Medford, Oregon. The sun had set but in the afterglow I saw a hay mow not far off the road and, being really tired, having walked all day, I went to it, burrowed a little nest, laid down and slept until dawn.

When I awoke, I felt a movement on my arm and when I looked, there between my body and my arm was a small snake.

I have an unreasonable fear of snakes and it took all of my concentration not to bolt. As it turned out, as I tried to ease my arm away, the movement caused the snake to slither away and I could see that it was a garter snake and no danger at all.

Well, as I arose and started to walk to the road a voice nearby asked what I was doing on his land.  The answer was obvious enough, but I apologized and said I was going to Frisco.

He sized me up and asked if I wanted a day's work for a dollar.  I wanted to say no, but I was stony broke, hungry and needed to clean up so I accepted his offer.

I have never worked so hard before or since as I did on that day for one dollar.  I was given two meals and I was allowed to sleep in the barn one night.

The next day was a truly beautiful day in beautiful country and I rode much of that day on the back of a truck. When the truck changed direction, the driver stopped to let me off.  We talked a bit and he said he had a boy about my age and was glad he was not in my shoes. He offered me a dollar and I accepted it with thanks.

I walked a while and got another ride which lasted until after dark. As I was walking along the side of the`highway, a car stopped  with two police officers in it.  One asked what I was doing and I said, "Looking for a place to sleep." He said, "We've got just the place" and told me to get in.  I did as I was told and shortly after that I was escorted to a nice clean cell in the local lockup.

I slept like a baby until they awakened me at daybreak, drove me to the county line and said , "That way and don't come back."  I asked them, "No food?" and one of them answered, "No food" and they drove away. Oregon  has some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable and I was entranced by the Willamet Valley.

Oh, well, all long journeys start with one step at a time.


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