Timeline – 1998 Part 3

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Hi and Lois Sunday page digital proof, September 6, 1998.

Soliciting rides from strangers, commonly know as hitchhiking, began as soon as automobiles started driving on highways.

Since 1970, there has been a decline in hitchhiking in the United States due to a number of factors, including lower airfares, more money for travel, numerous and reliable cars, and a lack of trust of strangers.

Although techniques differ around the world, hitchhikers usually stand on the side of the road with their thumb out.  Drivers who stop are expected to offer a free ride but sometimes favors are requested.

When I was in college in the 1970s, hitchhiking was a convenient and relatively safe means of transportation.  I went to school in Boston and almost every weekend I would go down to the entrance ramp for the Massachusetts Turnpike where I would get in line behind other hitchhikers with signs.

At that time I had friends going to colleges all up and down the east coast and would get rides to Providence, New Haven, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., as well as home to Connecticut.

Similar to Hi in the gag above, I traveled light, with little more than some spending money in my wallet and a toothbrush in my pocket.   I also hitchhiked in Europe and Africa and once thumbed my way from Nairobi to Kisumu, Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Of course when I wrote this gag, I had a family with kids, much like the Flagstons.  When the Walkers went away on weekends our car would be packed with gear just like theirs.  My hitchhiking days were long over.

Check back here in a week for the next installment in our Timeline series.

– Brian Walker

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