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The Things I Would Have Learned if I Had Hitch-Hiked to San Diego With "Wild Man"

Updated on May 12, 2015
The late Alvin Lee, leader of rock band, Ten Years After, died at age 68.
The late Alvin Lee, leader of rock band, Ten Years After, died at age 68.
She is a beautiful hitchhiker, but "Wild man," and I would not have had time for her.
She is a beautiful hitchhiker, but "Wild man," and I would not have had time for her.

Everyone meet "Wild Man"

My best friend when I was a junior in high school, Hamilton (Alabama) to be exact, was Kenneth Stone. This is his given name, but some of his buddies nick-named him "Wild man," due to how much beer he could consume during one night. This isn't a slam, but to me, a high-compliment. In common terms, I have never seen anyone drink as much beer at one time as "Wild man." The amazing thing was that Kenneth was not an alcoholic. Miracles exist. I am a true witness.

I thought a lot of Kenneth. I still do. During 1971, in my junior year of high school, Kenneth and I talked about a lot of things that no one else could fathom or grasp. Subjects that ranged from the now-late super-guitarist, Alvin Lee of Ten Years After to how I used to dream of being from African-American origin.

This is a lonely area-- hitching by yourself.
This is a lonely area-- hitching by yourself. | Source
This couple is tough enough to endure the heat and fatigue of hitchhiking.
This couple is tough enough to endure the heat and fatigue of hitchhiking. | Source
Hitchhiking alone is not a wise move. One could get robbed or beaten up.
Hitchhiking alone is not a wise move. One could get robbed or beaten up. | Source

Hitchhiking was our dream

Our main topic of our much-guarded, secret-discussions was for Kenneth and me to "hit the road," with our duds in a cloth bag tied to sticks on our backs and hitchhiking from Hamilton, Alabama to San Diego, California. We knew that we were not the first "explorers" to have this dream. Or the last. But it was our dream. We had all intents and determination to see it through. Our hope were sky-high. We went as far as to plan-out our daily food consumption, good free places to catch a nap and places, if we needed cash, to do some odd-jobs. Our bases were covered.

The sole reason for us having this dream was: We wanted to do something really out of the ordinary before the heavy burdens of jobs and responsibilities for our families became a reality. Something we could talk about for years to our friends who didn't have the nerve to do such things and our children who would begin to see us not only as their dad's, but modern-day Woody Guthrie's who threw caution and care to the wind and lived, really lived, if only for a few months.

This lonely couple are hitching back home.
This lonely couple are hitching back home. | Source
Sometimes the well-to-do have to hitch a ride from one place to another.
Sometimes the well-to-do have to hitch a ride from one place to another. | Source
When you can't ride, learn to walk.
When you can't ride, learn to walk. | Source

The difference in parents

Kenneth "Wild man" Stone's parents were cool with this idea. In fact, they encouraged Kenneth to "get out there and taste life before you are too old," they reportedly-said to him. As for my parents, well, have you seen the many films of the Atom Bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima? This is how my dad reacted when I fully-explained what Kenneth and I had planned. And no matter of strategic-negotiating or plain, painful begging would buldge him.

"Way too dangerous. You will get killed. I'll hear no more of this," my dad bellowed straight into my face. The only comeback I had was: "But dad, our other friends are all planning their "one last adventure," to look back on as something unusual that they planned. I didn't, thank God, get the "If your friends jumped from the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump too?" lecture, just a stern, silent look as my dad went outside which was a signal to not follow him.

This girl's smile tells motorists that she can be trusted.
This girl's smile tells motorists that she can be trusted. | Source
Brewer and Shipley, famous for "One Toke Over The Line."
Brewer and Shipley, famous for "One Toke Over The Line."
This is one brave girl.
This is one brave girl. | Source
Drastic times.
Drastic times. | Source
Two guys willing to brave the hot sun in order to get a ride.
Two guys willing to brave the hot sun in order to get a ride. | Source
Would you give this pretty female a ride?
Would you give this pretty female a ride? | Source
Walking can be monotonous, but it gets you places.
Walking can be monotonous, but it gets you places. | Source
This girl needs a ride down south. Would you help her out?
This girl needs a ride down south. Would you help her out? | Source
Poor girl. The suitcase is almost as big as she is.
Poor girl. The suitcase is almost as big as she is. | Source
If you are hitchhiking, take time to get some rest to keep yourself charged up.
If you are hitchhiking, take time to get some rest to keep yourself charged up. | Source
Better hurry and get a ride. The day is slowly fading away.
Better hurry and get a ride. The day is slowly fading away. | Source
Even this road looks lonely.
Even this road looks lonely. | Source
Hey, dude. At least you are hitching in Florida.
Hey, dude. At least you are hitching in Florida. | Source

Enjoy

One thing he didn't take from me was my imagination. And that was what I used some time ago to realistically-imagine "Wild man," and I hoofing it down the highways from our hometown in Alabama down the charted-routes on a map we secured from a local gas station and having the time of our lives.

I also wanted to share with you . . .

The Things I Would Have Learned if I Had Hitch-Hiked to San Diego With "Wild Man"

  • Some people in the early 1970's were mean. Some loved to take empty pop bottles, beer cans, or apples and throw them at hitchhikers standing on the road-side seeking a ride.
  • You have to be in tip-top physical shape to run fast enough to catch a ride on the back-end of a pick-up truck or open-bedded chicken truck (after dark).
  • You also have to have a sharp "gift of gab," if you are caught by the owners of these vehicles and be able to convince them that you and your buddy actually belonged on their vehicle.
  • We both had long hair and that was a sure-sign that we were anti-American, anti-Vietnam, anti-holding down a job hippies who only smoked "weed" and listened to Brewer and Shipley all day and into the night. So our hair would definitely be a hazard in getting a ride down the road.
  • By way of nutrition, you cannot travel far on just "Gnabs," which is slang for packages of orange crackers with this orange substance in between them that the manufacturers want you to believe is cheese. "Green horn," hitchhikers like us needed sustinance. Ham, beef, vegetables and bread, but if we tried to carry "this" food, we had no way to keep it fresh and people who passed us and saw me with a cooler tied to my back would surely get their laugh for the day.
  • If you and your best pal are hitchhiking and get hungry when it turns dark, you best find an apple or peach orchard for some great-tasting free eats, but first, you are going to have a matter of conscience in taking some hard-working farmer's fruit. If you do not eat, you starve. If the farmer catches you, you die from a shotgun wound. Tough choices, but choices pro-hitcher's make every day.
  • "Wild man," being the quiet thinker, solved this problem. "We could wash-up in a gas station men's room and go visit the farmer with the fruit orchard and ask if we could have some to eat, and explain that our funds are almost depleted." I liked that approach. And would have used it if we had started out to San Diego.
  • Carrying a moderate-length stick is always a welcomed-idea if you are hitchhiking. You might be attacked by wild dogs prowling along the highways or rural roads you might take to cut-off some miles. Or you might be attacked by wild men strung-out on alcohol or drugs just wanting to steal your shoes and money to buy substances to keep them "spaced-out."
  • Being prepared to have a good place to sleep ranks near the top of a pro-hitchhiker's list. If you cannot find a good, soft grassy place underneath some trees (so you will not be spotted), sleeping underneath an overpass on the interstates will work, but you best prepare yourself if you haven't slept on a cement surface before, to have the "mother of backaches," the next morning.
  • Speaking of food again. If you are unable to find fruit orchards or produce gardens to eat from, throw away your pride and stand in the alley behind a Pizza Hut or Kentucky Fried Chicken and do not pretend you are not hungry. Tell the truth. Ask the restaurant employee if he or she would mind if you and your hungry friend had some of the food to eat? Most restaurant employees have a soft spot for hungry hitcher's and you can "eat like a king," if you just be humble and truthful.
  • Walk as far as you can before you begin hitchhiking. You will be surprised at how far your two feet can get you before you are too tired to go on.
  • On your list of things to carry, get a box of "Snake Away," a powder you could (in 1971) sprinkle around your camping site when you turn in and this powder would keep you safe from poison snakes.

Maybe next time I will share with you "Things That "Wild man" and I Could Have Learned if We had Went to College."

Comments

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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      tsmog,

      Thank you so much for the read and great comment. I am glad that you enjoyed something from my teen life.

      And my friend, Kenneth and I would have set-off for San Diego if my parents had not been so controlling.

      But I digress.

      Have a peaceful day.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      3 years ago from Escondido, CA

      (Smile I live in San Diego County . . . welcome) I thoroughly enjoyed this highly recommended hub. Through the adventure and wisdom shared I was able to 'hitchhike' to another time and place along with you. I thank you for that!

      tim

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