The Ride to Chicago


The Ride to Chicago  [second daily dose of Erie Islands]

It was mid-afternoon when I once again had my thumb out on Ohio 2.  The Erie Islands, like I said, is not much of a destination spot, so I didn’t have much hope for anybody traveling a long distance.

Boy was I wrong.  Almost immediately a station wagon pulled over, and this young guy, barely eighteen (I learned), was really excited to pick me up.  He had left Long Island after graduating from high school looking for adventure, been all the way to Seattle, was on his way back east crossing Canada – without having found much in the way of adventure – and was in Toronto when he realized he was getting too close to home . . . . so he veered south in hopes of finding anybody, anything, that might be fun.  When I said I was going to Chicago, he said that sounded great.

And this guy was down for adventure.  When we got back to the Interstate there was a group of about ten all hitchhiking together, and of course we stopped for them.  Turns out they were a drum & bugle corps heading for Whitewater, Wisconsin (and a national drum & bugle corps pageant) when their van broke down, so everybody but their driver was trying to still make it to Whitewater sans drums & bugles. Now Whitewater was where he was going after dropping me in Chicago.

Then he opened up his first aid kit and offered each of us a hit of acid.  I declined; he apparently had already had some; and every member of the drum & bugle corps took one!  What a ride!  After a few miles I offered to drive and he said sure.  Most the talk was about how much fun drum & bugle corps pageants were – a way to get away from home as high school kids and be stoned out of your mind (those were the days).  Halfway to Chicago – all of us very crowded together – they started in on graphically describing their hallucinations which gave me flashbacks, not bad ones, but I wanted to get to Chicago as fast as possible and let this merry group of pranksters be on their way.  I was not on their trip if you know what I mean.

Grant Park

Grant Park lit up for Minnie Minoso

Problem was that when I got to Chicago and was by myself I felt like I was tripping too.  First thing I did was buy a Chicago Sun-Times to read about my home town White Sox – only the front page was blaring a headline about a double murder in Grant Park with a picture of the crime scene – the very spot I was standing in!  Plus the Beach Boys were playing in the Amphitheater one block away in less than an hour and everybody going to the show looked just like my old high school friends (a group I’d left behind with little regret).  Talk about a contact high.

Got a cheap room at the Y, crashed, and the next day to St. Paul without further memorable encounters.

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