Tales of Open Road

An Objective Review

... Beginning of the end.... of the Adventure

Bill Jodrey

When one chooses to ride the freight trains, one sees a whole lot of scenery and one meets a whole lot of men and boys who, like yourself, are running away from one set of problems, and hoping to find Utopia beyond the sunset.

When a great many sunsets have come and gone, truth gradually forces its way into one's conscious awareness, that hopping freight trains, and thumbing rides on highways, and the worst scenario of all - begging for food or money, are not the ways the average person moves up the ladder and becomes a normal and respectable member of society.  

Those wicked years of the Depression, the 30's and 40's, did call for a different set of tactics by which to survive. Many men with families had jobs which paid only a dollar a day. That was poor living.

I moseyed about the states looking, trying, and finally accepting the status quo. I did what I could until the wretched war, which destroyed so many millions of peoples, finally ended and the need to rebuild parts of the world created new inventions which burgeoned forth onto the markets.

Our country rather quickly gained a state of progressive economic stability, which has made the U.S.A. the most powerful of nations.

However wonderful today's economy is, I sometimes look beyond these days of grandeur and recall some years which were nothing short of horror for many, many people.

Late one hot afternoon in Idaho, I had been walking for almost three hours, following a foot trace along the railroad tracks that had been created by countless hobos before me. In an out-of-sight hollow on the trace, I came upon two hobos eating pieces of meat and drinking very black coffee. There was a small cooking fire where the meat was boiling in an open pot and the can with coffee was closer to the fire. They invited me to sit and eat, but though I was hungry, I was not sure of what was offered, and I asked, "What kind of meat is that?"

"Cat," was the short answer.

"You're kidding, aren't you?" I asked.

"Look over by that bush," one suggested.

I walked over to the area to which he had pointed and there was the pelt of a black and white cat.

Moving back to the fire circle, I said, "I'm a vegetarian today, but I would like some coffee."

They laughed and one handed me the can which served as a cup. I took a sip to taste it. I didn't dare to swallow, so I stepped aside and spit it out and handed him his can and said, "I'm sorry. I just can't handle it."

One said, "You're new to this life. If you keep at it, there will be times when this will look good."

His companion said, "Go back and give home another try."  

I took his advice.

September 7,1999


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