Hitching a Free Ride

I saw recently on the news where local authorities were troubled by some Baltimore youth hitching a ride by hanging on to the back of a bus. I remember back in the 60’s when it was a regular thing to be sitting in the back of the bus and glancing out the back window seeing a couple of heads pop up of guys hanging onto the back of the bus catching a free ride. In fact, it was unusual to not see someone catching a free ride on a transit bus. There were other ways to catch a free ride back then other than hanging on to the back a bus and one of the most prevalent was hitchhiking.

Hitchhiking was a popular way to get around in the 60’s, back in the ‘hippie’ days.(I never managed to become a full fledged hippie, more of a fabricated one) It was nothing to see guys and girls standing on the side of the road with their thumb out looking to bum a ride. Some even used this method to hitchhike across the country.

I remember one time down on Ritchie Highway when were trying to catch a ride back home after having walked down there earlier. It was myself, a friend and his sister, who was quite hot, built like a brick shithouse as they say. Well, we figured that all of us up on the road wasn’t going to get us very far, so we had her stand up on the highway with her thumb out while we layed low off the side of the road. It didn’t take long to have someone pull over and as the car shrieked to a stop a short distance in front of her, we came running up to meet with her as the surprised driver was no doubt disappointed to see two young guys standing along side of her, but it worked.

I didn’t hitchhike a lot myself, but I do remember one time catching a couple of rides from Ocean City up to Seaford DE. where Bob Mathers was working at the time at a local radio station. Nowadays you hardly see anyone hitchhiking as it’s just too dangerous but instead you do see people out there with fingers waving trying to catch a ride with a ‘hack’.

Another less often way that we would sometimes catch a free ride would be after a heavy snowfall we would wait at an intersection for a car to come to a stop and several of us would grab on to the back bumper of the car and ride it as far as we could. Sometimes the driver would get upset and jump out of the car, chasing us off, but usually they just let us ride along until we dropped off.

I should mention that i knew of a guy named John in the neighborhood who use to travel by train back and forth across the country but this was not something that many would even think about doing, and as for me, I use to hop a train now and again, but never ventured more than across town. My last train hopping trip ended with someone losing a foot and made me realize that actions have consequences even if you were not the cause of the mishap. It was the last time I tried to hitch a FREE RIDE.

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