Going West - Part 3
HITCH HIKING TO DENVER
At the end of part two I had talked Shorty into hitchhiking to Denver instead of riding the freight train.........................
Being an experienced hitch-hiker I coached Shorty on what to do. I told him to go down the road about 200 yards ahead of me and when I caught a ride I would ask the driver if he would pick up my brother. I explained the things he should do if we became separated, such as not walking far out of a town so that if he didn’t catch a ride he would be close to a place to sleep, always ask the person picking him up how far he was going, and not to ride with him if he was not going into the next town. I failed to do these things on my previous hitch-hiking trip to Denver and I got left out in the boon-docks of Nebraska. I told him where to meet me in Denver, and above all things not to start trying to walk to Denver.
Now we were ready. I sent Shorty down the road a little ways and we started waiting for a ride. After waiting for about 30 minutes a car stopped to pick me up. I was so excited when he told me he was going into Cheyenne that I just waved good-by to Shorty as we passed him. About 10 miles down the road I thought about Shorty and said, "Oh my goodness, I was supposed to ask if you would pick up my brother" and he said "I would have been glad to let him ride". (So you can see that I was affected with forgetfulness back in those days) And that is how we became separated, and it was four days later before I saw Shorty again.
When we reached Cheyenne early in the afternoon and I asked to be let out at the edge of town so that I could wait for Shorty. When it started getting along toward sundown and Shorty had not shown up I started worrying, and being an expert worrier I talked myself into believing that he had not caught a ride and that he had decided to get back on a freight train headed for Denver. After convincing myself that Shorty would be on the next freight and me being within sight of the railroad tracks, I decided to go to the tracks and catch next freight and maybe locate Shorty, or at least be on train with him.
So over to the tracks I go. The first freight comes thru a little after dark and was moving so fast I couldn’t get on, even though I damned near killed myself trying. I was wearing my over coat and couldn’t run very fast, and every time I grabbed at that iron ladder the speed of the train would jerk it out of my hand and I would fall to the ground within two feet of those freight car wheels.
Well, I tried three more freights before I was finally able to board one, and before the night was over I wished that I had missed it also. Just like the ride over the Great Divide I couldn’t find an open car or reefer. I finally located a flat car loaded with lumber. In the loading they had put short pieces in the middle of the car and longer pieces on the sides and on top of the short pieces thereby forming a sort of cave at the end of the flat bed car. By the time I located this cave I was so damned cold that I crawled into it to get out of the weather. Every now and then that lumber would creak and sound as if it was going to fall on me. It would scare the hell out of me and I would crawl out of my cave and stay outside until I started freezing, then I would crawl back inside the hole and stay until another squeak came along. This went on all night and I was one cold, tired,and scared chicken when we finally pulled into Denver.
BACK TO BRADY
After reaching Denver I located my Brady friend, got the key to his room, took a bath, and slept until the next day. Then I spent the next two days waiting around for Shorty, and he finally shows up on the third day. His feet were so swollen he couldn’t get his boots off, and it took a full day of soaking before they came off.
Shorty had not paid attention to my coaching. Instead of waiting just outside of a town for a ride, he would walk until someone picked him up. He wouldn’t ask them how far they were going and consequently got left out on the road after a short ride with some farmer or rancher who would say "Well, this is as far as I go", and Shorty would have to get out and start walking again. And that was why his feet were so swollen.
After hanging around Denver long enough to spend most of our money we decided to head for home again. I couldn’t talk Shorty into hitch-hiking again so we caught a freight heading for Ft. Worth, and this time we caught one with an empty car and we stayed in that sucker until we reached Ft. Worth. Then we caught a freight heading for Brownwood and just 100 miles from home we got kicked off a freight train for the first time since leaving Evanston, Wyoming. This happened about one or two o’clock in the morning at the little town of Granbury, Texas.
We walked from the tracks into town and sat down outside of an all night cafe. I assured Shorty that come morning we would be able to catch a ride to Brady. He didn’t like the idea but since we were afraid of the "Freight Yard Bulls" we had no other choice. Sitting there outside of that cafe we could look through the window and see a sign that said, "Bacon, sausage,or ham and eggs and coffee 25 cents". I knew that Shorty had 50 cents left out of that $40 we got for our car so I tried to talk him into spending that money for breakfast, but he didn’t like the idea of being broke.
Finally about 5 o’clock I told him, "Hell’s fire, Shorty it’s only about a hundred miles home, so give me my 25 cents, cause I want something to eat". He gave me my money then went inside to watch me eat. When I was about half way through eating my meal (and dam it was good) into that cafe walks Web Craddock a fellow that Shorty grew up with in Brady. We found out that he was on his way to Brady and he had room for us in his car. Upon hearing this Shorty went all out and spent his last two-bits on ham and eggs and coffee.
We arrived in Brady about 8 o’clock in the morning and thus ended our quest for fame and fortune in the west
I believe that all of this happened in 1932 which was the year that Roosevelt introduced the NRA (National Recovery Act) which forced every business working as many as five people to hire one more worker. And thus ended the drought of no work and I went to work at the Central Drug Store at $60.00 per month.