Mudcat Café message #1349881 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76279   Message #1349881
Posted By: Abby Sale
07-Dec-04 - 10:06 AM
Thread Name: Riding the freights
Subject: Riding the freights
It was back in 1960 but I rode the freights for a very brief period in my travel from Boston to San Francisco. Brief though that was (I started out December 21st and arrived about Jan 20), I met many other riders and learned a bit of the ways of the system.

Has anyone any hard information on the way it works today? Eg:

1) Do travelers (I'm intentionally avoiding specific descriptive terms here - that's for another thread) still ride freights?

If so:

2) Is RR security about the same as it always was - occasional RR security employees who would probably throw you off, possibly rough you up, possibly ignore you?

3) It was rumored that the California fruit companies would pay the RRs to allow riders. This helped provide migratory crop pickers. In this sense, your fare was paid and you felt in a stronger position, not a stowaway. Is/was there any truth to that?

4) Do the just-outside-the-RR-yard missions still exist...still praying over and Saving the itinerants. These were barely funded one- or two-man missions out to save the heathen travellers. Being Jewish, I never got Saved - a few of the guys always got saved - they felt it was only fair to make the preacher feel better in his very crummy job. After all, the mission was providing a meal & a cot for a night (or as many as three nights.) Clean clothes, too. I felt uncomfortable about this, though. I was also piqued that they (pragmatically) prayed over you before they fed you. Jewish law was clear that you should feed the poor before, or better, without requesting/gaining anything back. Only thus would it be an act of charity. The typical mission system seemed (even to me at 20) merely a trade for value. I got to appreciate Sally Ann because they only had required prayer on Sundays. AND clean sheets. I still chuck something in their Christmas pot as pay back. [BTW for you Brits, the US Sally Ann is a much "kinder" bunch than the Brit one.]
So, are the missions still there? Do they still require you to get prayed over before you can eat?

I asked if anyone had ever met a woman traveller - No, it would be too dangerous for a woman. Or ever met anyone with a guitar - no to that. Or if they ever sang any songs - No, unfortunately, to that as well. I didn't have a tape recorder, anyway.