Mudcat Café message #1353013 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76279   Message #1353013
Posted By: Franz S.
10-Dec-04 - 10:15 AM
Thread Name: Riding the freights
Subject: RE: Riding the freights
About 1938 my dad, more or less on impusle, left Seattle for a year of hitching and freighthopping around the US. I've heard a lot of stories from that trip, but he may have held back one or two.

In 1961 Mel Lyman took me down to the Brooklyn Yard (SP) in Portland OR, gave me a tutorial on hopping freights, introduced me to the yard workers, and saw me off in an empty sawdust car for San Francisco. I did't bring my banjo. When I returned two weeks later, Mel just happenined to be driving past when I walked out of the Yard. I did a lot of singing on that trip, mostly songs I learned from Mel.

During those years I did a fair amount of traveling, some by freight but mostly by thumb. No experience I had hitching could match standing in a boxcar door in the middle of a moonlit January night crossing Willamette Pass in Oregon singing "I'm a poor lonesome boy and a long way from home..." as loud as I could.

About ten years ago my dad sent me a copy of "The Freighthopper's Manual" and asked if I was up for "one more ride". I turned him down. Those doors are too high for me now.