Monday, September 17, 2012
Picking Up Strangers
Once upon a time, the world really was a kinder, gentler place. Coming out of the Depression and going into the war years (World War II, the "war to end all wars"), those who had cars were proud to give a ride to those who had none. It was not uncommon to see a bindlestiff, a hobo, a man out of a job and looking for work, walking on the side of the road. In fact, a few came to our house and my mother always had some odd job or other and paid with a hot meal. My dad had ridden to California from Texas in a boxcar. We always stopped and gave a lift to those men. After the war began, there was a huge influx of servicemen stationed in our area of southern California. Long Beach was a port city flooded with sailors, soldiers and marines waiting to ship out. Those homesick boys would hitchhike for miles when they got leave for an invitation for one of my tall, redheaded sister's parties, my mother's meals, my dad's kindness. We never knew who or how many would be at the house when we came home. Those kids slept on chairs and on the floor, and they danced to Big Band records with my sister and her girlfriends. They even danced with me! It would have been unpatriotic to pass a serviceman on the road. (My sister eventually married one of those sailors.)
What a shame that it is no longer safe (and it is not) to pick up strangers. Unless they are frogs.