The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Hitchhiking in 1980s brought adventure


To the Editor:

To me, it was a no-brainer in the early 1980s to opt for hitchhiking. My 1970 vehicle was good for only 12 miles to the gallon, highway mileage.

Previous bus rides to and from Detroit, with all their stops, had been done to more than my fill. Air travel would have been great, but would have cut into the compensation money I was receiving when the company I worked for had gone out of business.

In parts of 1982 and 1983, looking for a job, I had thumbed a total of more than 8,000 miles, consisting of at least 100 rides — eight from semi drivers who for the most part informed me that it was against their company’s rules (don’t pick up hitchhikers). Four people who picked me up were women in cars.

One of my rides terminated in Walcott Junction, Wyo., on Interstate 80, where there were a couple buildings, one of which was a small convenience store. However, before I could enter, I noticed a semi tractor slowly moving toward a ravine. I quickened my pace, opened the door and yelled “your rig is moving.” A man ran out and stopped the vehicle just in time.

He reentered the store and said “I don’t know how I can thank you enough.”

I responded, “If you’re going toward Rock Springs, I could use a ride.”

He said “That’s exactly where I’m going.”

Hearing the conversation, another man inquired, “Would you have room for me?”

Without hesitation, “Sure, but one of you will have to take the sleeping compartment.” I volunteered.

The Native American was quite elderly and very sociable. He related that he had just finished a few-month stint of looking after sheep out in the hills. The driver and I found him very entertaining and encouraged him to tell us more.

One time on a frosty March morning in Ogallala, Neb., as I was hitchhiking, a car stopped for me. The driver told me he came back from going a few miles beyond me because of the urging of his wife, who said “It’s cold and he looked harmless.”

They told me that I was the only person they had stopped for in a long period of time. When I learned that he was an Assembly of God minister, I opened up to them and they to me. The approximate 150 miles to Denver seemed a trifle.

Donald Kleimola



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