Monday, December 12, 2011

Drifting




Tommy was a hitchhiker -- this may be him except the sleeping bag doesn't look right.  He had his stolen in Arizona and we gave him an army bag that was excess to us (and apparently the Army since they gave us an extra to keep!)  He was in Forest Park in St. Louis and spotted his bag alone near a tree, so he traded back.  The army bag was warmer so it was a matter of familiarity rather than function, apparently.
He would hitch mainly route 66 (now 44/40) St. Louis to LA mostly ,staying alive by giving blood in the bigger cities along the way. You could get $15 a pint but could only give once a month or so.  But the tracking was poor then and he could give in several cities, hitting the blood centers about a month later on the trip back east.  He would stop in Albuquerque at our place for a nights sleep and some food; he knew people all along the route even extending north to San Fran. where he would hit the Haight.  His stories were always a non time-dependent series of events.  May have been last week. May have been last year.  A smear of stories runtogether in a stream of consciousness.   We once prepared a large duck dinner for us and him but he could only eat half of a normal meal since his stomach was shrunken due to the sparse, but consistent, input of food over the weeks previous. Large enough to live
on but not enough room there to accommodate splurging.

Last time we saw him he came through with a girl from Baltimore in tow.  We loaned him our address so he could collect some food stamps and fill 2 gunny sacks with the food; the overage he gave to us. Seems to me it  was about $150 worth of stamps/food that we all got.  Took them up to the hot springs north of town where they intended to camp for a few months.  G'bye free spirits . . .   we moved on and that was that.

It may have come as quite the surprise  to each when he showed up later at our last place to be greeted by the  new-renters.  Where'd they go?  Don't know. (we were in Fort Polk Louisiana)  Maybe later. 
  That was that.




17 comments:

iamnasra said...

How true time drift us..loved your thoughts

I miss being here and Im glad to get the time to be here

the walking man said...

I miss having grown to old and broken to still be doing that.

Marion said...

This is terrific! Of course, I want more...

I knew a man like this...he would drift in and out, always regaling us with stories. I thought of him as a version of the wandering minstrels of old.

We're getting older now and he's settled down...unless it's a warm spring day when the highway calls and he's gone for a bit...

Loved this post! xx

Beach Bum said...

Now that is freedom.

red dirt girl said...

Oh fantastic bit of writing, goatman. I love this. Do you miss him? Maybe life is just a random series of meetings ... :)

xxx

aria said...

fact or fiction.. fictitious fact perhaps.. loved it ..

goatman said...

This is a lost art. Never did much thumbing myself -- always had a car -- but we would let ride anyone who needed it; two shedding German Shepards notwithstanding.
This was before the time of fear and paranoia -- well, before the time of fear . . .

Margie said...

Wishing you and yours a most wonderful holiday season full of love, peace and joy!

Thank you for the visits.

And I really enjoyed this post!

red dirt girl said...

Merry Christmas, goatman!

xxx

red dirt girl said...

and a Happy New Year!
xxx

Lori said...

Glad I stopped by to check you out. You have been writing I see. I loved this story. There was a time when drifting was relatively safe compared to nowadays. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

icyhighs said...

Coolest backpack ever? I think so. Think And I can't think of anything cooler than hitching a ride with 2 German shepherds.

Rhiannon said...

I like your story Goatman. I've met a lot of homeless people since moving to this town I live in about 11 years ago. They would be passing through the street to make a shortcut to the main street. Some would stop and I'd end up in conversation (as I would be doing yardwork in the frontyard of houses I used to rent through the years)and we would talk and they would share with me their stories of how they got to where they are. I had an understanding in some ways of how these things happen to some of us...so so sad. Lot's of veterans I met and they shared their sad stories with me.

Thank you so much for coming to my blog and "typing" that poem you thought I'd like. Of course you'd know I love it! To think that was written in the 50's is something. My how things have changed (or not changed or gotten worse not sure)and I've often thought to myself when Ive witnessed women treated bad or "talked down to" or often experienced it myself..my thought was always this "wake up, because you wouldn't be alive if it weren't for women"!

Thank you again. I'm hanging in there and needing lots of rest of late but am "finally" trying to start up drawing (and some journaling) of late, now that I have "real prescription" glasses and meant just for my bad eyes!

Take care now...think of you and hope your improving.

Love and Blessings,

Rhiannon

papercrow said...

We are so diverse in our creativity and resourcefulness! I love to hear how others live, good stories are soul fodder for sure.

Jenny Woolf said...

Love this post describing a strange but workable life.
Used to know quite a few people like that but not any more.
Thanks for commenting on my blog, was glad and interested to hear your thoughts . Jenny

thebalanceline said...

Even in drifting, he sought familiar places... Always moving to fixed destinations. Was Tommy surprised that you weren't there? Good read. :)

Sage said...

Good memories! I would love to read Tommy's book, if he ever got around to getting his story down.

Post a Comment