In my blog archives at this site, you can read about how my wife and I hitchhiked over 4,000 miles with our first-born son when he was not yet 2-years-old. But also I just dug out an old clipping from the Charleston (S.C.) Evening Post, January 11, 1968--a column written by Warren Koon--for Andy to take with him, too. I thought you might enjoy reading it.
Open Road Beckoned
Dale Lund is 18 years old. His blond hair needs trimming and his [green] eyes are sharp and inquiring, set back in his bright face with the high cheekbones, giving the Scandinavian-descended boy a slightly Oriental appearance. He keeps tarantulas for pets and has just hove into town after a little trip.
Like he hitch-hiked here from Sultan, Wash., which is about as far as one can go, west to east, overland. The lad decided (1) he wanted to see some of this country and (2) he had two sisters he hadn't seen in many years. The best way to solve those two problems, he decided in a direct manner, was to get out on the road, lift a thumb and see if he could make it. He started last September and arrived in Charleston last Sunday.
HIS FATHER, a Methodist minister in Sultan, a small town of 600, and his mother didn't think too much of the idea of 18-year-old Dale Lund stumping about the country without any guarantees about arrival, etc. so they tried to talk him out of it.
They tempted him with bus fare to wherever he wanted to go, but he said that's too monotonous. Just get on buses, blgggh! Which is the way Dale, a bright, smiling, husky lad of just 5-4 but with broad, muscular shoulders, felt about that suggestion. Dale Lund worked last summer in Libby, Mont., and getting out of the state of Washington for the first time in his life gave him an insatiable desire to see more of the land.
So, with $20 and a little, blue zipper bag with a change of clothes, gloves, hat, blanket and a small pillow, he set out from Sultan. Two miles out the first man who stopped was his father, who drove out to see how the boy was doing and slipped him an extra $10. It was in Spokane, Wash., that Dale really got things high-rolling.
HE WALKS INTO this hotel, see, and says to the man "what kind of room can I get for a [dollar]?" The man says "Nothing, buster, beat it," which Dale did. But at the second hotel, he explained if he could have a room of some kind, didn't have to have bedding or anything since he had his own, he'd pay a dollar. The clerk thought about it awhile, finally let him have the room and wound up giving it to the boy free. Which suited Dale just fine. Strangely, he encountered the same people who had given him a ride to Spokane again--in Butte, Mont. when he stepped out of a motel room and they walked out of the one next door. They thereupon gave him a ride all the way to Omaha.
Dale got into Lincoln, Neb., and weakened. He bought a bus ticket to Wichita, where one of his sisters lives and, since the bus left the next morning, he walked to the nearest hotel and inquired of the "cheapest room in the place." The man told him he had one for $2.50. Dale had two one-dollar bills and some change, and coincidentally, when the bill, with tax, came to $2.56, that was what he had, to the penny. The next day, on the way to Wichita, he ate two cans of beans he had stowed away for emergency in the little bag.
HE STAYED in Wichita with his sister (she was writing him a letter warning him not to try to hitch-hike to Wichita when he got to her house) and worked at an aircraft plant for three months but "splurged all my money on Christmas, first time I ever had any to do it," he said.
So he left Wichita for Charleston with $14, and Sunday he got to his sister's house in Menriv Park here with $1.75. He didn't eat for the final 48 hours on his way here, shepherding his $1.75 against an emergency, although he said one man he rode with "offered to lend me $10."
His worst problem, he said of the crosscountry trip, was "when I'd get into a car with people who were sober and they'd be drunk by the time I got out." One time a Marine gave him a ride in the mountains of Tennessee and drove too fast, finally hitting a boulder and blowing out a tire. He was stopped by police in a small Kentucky town as he walked down the street because "I was suspected as a bank robber. The town bank had been robbed about an hour before I got there, but they found out that it wasn't me."
DALE LUND has it all figured out. He'll soon be drafted, will serve his Army time, then go to college on the GI bill. Then he'll open a pet shop somewhere in Washington state because after seeing the whole country, he discovered he didn't like any place better than his native Washington. He has kept snakes, wild animals, tarantulas and all kinds of animals, he said, and he has always had an ambition to own a pet shop.
He's a confirmed hitch-hiker. Says there just is so much freedom and interest in meeting all these people, and most of them are good people. He got stranded a couple of times for a few hours, in the cold, but always managed to get rides, so to speak, in time's nick. And what are his words of wisdom about it all?
"Stay off the interstates," Dale Lund grinned. "Cars go too fast and you can't get 'em to stop for you."
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.