Erie Islands [1974]

Looking at a map of Ohio you can spy the Erie Islands just east of Toledo, not a widely known nor frequented destination spot.  It takes some unusual circumstances to find your way there.

I was hitchhiking between Philadelphia and St. Paul the summer of 1974 having a terrible time getting a ride on Interstate 80 a little west of Cleveland.  After being stuck all night and half the next morning I decided to try for better luck on Ohio Route 2 which hugs Lake Erie.  Not a lot of traffic but at least drivers were slowing down to take a look at me.  When she passed me I thought for sure she would keep on going because not too many women stop to pick up hitchhikers, but no! she pulled over, rolled down the passenger window, and when I came running up, asked where I was going.  “Chicago,” I said.  “Get in,” she said.

We talked for a little while and then she said, “You must be hungry; you want something to eat?”  Because (a) I was hungry, (b) I was just glad to have a ride, and (c) she was older and out-of-my-league, the possibility of a romantic liaison didn’t even cross my mind when I said, “Sure.”

“Well,” she said, “I have a fruit and vegetable stand out on the Erie Islands and you’re welcome to come and have something to eat.”  I had never heard of the Erie Islands, and if I had known how far off the mainland we were headed – with no way back except with her – I might not have said, “Great, yah I’ll come.”

We took a sharp right off Ohio 2 and kept going and going, one island after another, with little to no returning traffic.  It seemed impolite to inquire about when she planned on bringing me back so I just sat back and pretended to be enjoying the ride.

By the time we got to what must have been the last island, there indeed was her fruit and vegetable stand – but the food was almost impossible to eat for how rotten it looked.  No customers were showing up to beg a ride from, so I was stuck – with her – unless I determined to embark on the 20 mile or so walk back to the mainland.

I wish I could remember the beauty of the place or that she had a pretty face, but I have no memory of those things – to this day I just remember being stuck and wanting to get back on the road to Chicago.  I was there about 15 minutes, trying to be polite about losing my appetite, when I realized she was becoming more and more suggestive about what we might do next.

I’ll never know how it all would have turned out, whether I would have joined her in the sack or not, because just then a truck driver pulled in delivering a fresh load of melons, and thinking I might never have another chance, asked if he’d take me back to the mainland.

Nick Drum & Bugle Corp

Above: Nick in his 7th Grade Drum & Bugle Corps. Tomorrow: The Drum & Bugle Corps on the ride to Chicago.


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