Feb 20, 2013


In 1972 I was driving out of the loop near skid row late at night. I was with my girl friend, later my wife and ex wife. I saw a Marine in his green dress uniform hitchhiking. I stopped to pick him up.  "He is a Marine - we have to pick him up" I said. Girl friend was not happy about picking up a hitch hiker on skid row. (Did I mention I am an idiot?)

I told him I was a Marine and we talked a bit as we drove south down the Dan Ryan. He was a big tough looking guy with jump wings, but only a private which was odd. He said he was thinking about staying in for a career. "You are only a private I said, You just got in". (Did I mention I am an idiot?).

"No, I have been in for three years." he said. He obviously had gotten into trouble and here is where I should have shut up. But no, I have to say "you must have got into trouble". "Yes", he said, "I killed a (Insert racial epithet here)".

Girl friend is very unhappy, so am I. I let a racist murderer in my back seat late at night. (Did I mention I am an idiot?).

As we continued down the Dan Ryan I thought, keep him talking. (I should have shut up - did I mention I was an idiot?). "What happened?", I asked. 

"I was guarding the gate and he attacked me with a knife."

"That sounds like self defense," I said. "Why did they get so mad?" (Did I mention that I am an idiot and talk too much?)

"I shot him seven times" he says. So he shot this guy with a .45 seven times, which is serious overkill and puts great large gaping whole holes in the guys body. The first round would have put him down - the next must have been for emphasis.

Girl friend is very tense and angry. Now I know he will either kill me or she will kill me, and I will deserve it. So I kept him talking, driving down the Dan Ryan, figuring out how I was going to fight this guy while he was in the back seat with one hand while driving with the other on the Ryan.

Then he shouted "Stop, stop!!" at 103rd St. There is no interchange there and it was very dark. I got out ready for the rumble, hoping he did not have his .45. But he just got out without a word and scrambled up the embankment in his uniform.

The Idiot in Boot Camp
Then my girl friend killed me. And I deserved it. Did I mention I am an idiot?

Craig Hullinger


If this story is true, Craig, then you REALLY ARE (or should I say WERE) an idiot. However, you were a VERY LUCKY idiot, because he did not in any way harm you or your girlfriend. Let's just say there was a 

Semper Phi 
(sp?) connection. Geesh!

Joan Pettavino. '66

We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives! 
Maya Angelou

Posted by Ron Veenstra

Well, this leaves open many many possible comments, but I will say that anytime I got leave in basic and AIT at Ft. Lenard Wood, MO. I was hitch hiking home or as close as possible to Oakwood, IL to see my wife and one year old son. Talk about memories. But I was never ever, left on the road for long and everyone was great. Much better than one close experience I had in Chicago over the many years of thumbing a ride there. So I do appreciate those that did that favor for me. 

Ron V

Posted by: Tom Schildhouse MPHS Jan 66

I was never comfortable hitching but the one time I remember distinctly was a miserable rainy, cold night coming home after 1 a.m. from girlfriends house. On Western Ave at 100th street a nice-looking guy stopped and wondered if I needed a ride. No, I replied but he insisted that there was a traffic problem and the bus was not coming soon. After about 2 blocks he wanted to know WAY too much about my sex life, girlfriend, ever had various kinds  of sex, etc. He stopped for a traffic light and I hit the pavement and ran all the way home from about 111th and Western to 115th and Kedzie. Cured me in a big hurry.

Tom Schildhouse

Posted by: "Will Hepburn" hepburncapital

I used to hitchhike a lot when I was a kid. Picked up almost anyone who needed a ride, too. I was strongly influenced by Jack Kerouac's "on the Road", a story of hitchhiking beatnicks in the 1950s.

One time in the Army I caught a hop from Anchorage to Dover Delaware, and hitchhiked, first to Long Island to visit Russ Frandsen (Empehi '64 now in Augusta, SC). An airman picked us (me and my wife) in Dover and said "I'll take you there" 150 miles out of his way, but hey, who was counting. His transmission went out in Hoboken and we had to leave him there and caught a train to Long Island.

We left Long Island the next day and hitchhiked through New York City. Interesting experience. The expressway felt like a tight canyon with just us and the cars zooming by.

In New Jersey a cop ran us off the expressway with "This is my road. If I see you on it again I'm gonna arrest you." And I was a soldier!! The pinko. As soon as he was gone we scrambled back onto the expressway because we had no idea how else to get away from there, and hoped we would
get a ride before the cop came back. We did.

A trucker picked up. He turned out to be one of the most memorable persons I have ever met. Claimed he was so crooked that when he died they wouldn't be able to bury him. They have to screw him into the ground. He had a gallon jar of speed that was 3/4 empty. I guessed the jar held 100,000 hits at one time. Yikes.

The tractor lost a back wheel in a blizzard in Pennsylvania. The axle drug on the ground for a while necessitating extensive repairs. We left the trailer there and limped to a truck stop where they worked on the truck for 20 hours straight. We got caught up on our sleep. When the truck was done, the driver convinced the mechanic to doctor the bill telling him he could fill his car with groceries from our trailer before we pulled out.

As we were leaving the truck stop the manager came storming down the stairs from the office with the somber-looking mechanic in tow, a little late. We were rolling. I'm sure the guy lost his job over that one. And he never got any groceries.

The truck driver pulled into another truck stop a few hours later and told me to get out and take the hose under the sleeper and put it in fuel tank of the truck to our right. He had an airplane wing tank pump mounted there and would could drain a 100 gallon tank in about 2 minutes. He said he
only picked on corporate rigs, so he wasn't stealing from independent drivers.

He described how when he needed batteries he would pull into a truck stop, drop Alka Selzer into the batteries of the truck next to him, killing the batteries. The driver of that truck would have to get new batteries and my diver, after drinking coffee for a while would wander into the shop, buy the old batteries, change the electrolyte and voila have a set of new batteries.

We rode with him along I-80 to Indiana before he headed south.

From Chicago we would take drive-away cars. Ones being shipped from auctions in Chicago to points west. They even paid for gas. We had an Olds 98 to Tacoma that trip. Traveled in style and caught a hop from Tacoma back to Anchorage.

This hitchhike story is beyond the realm of the reasonable, Will, but then I guess that's what all of us might expect from you. It is very plain that you have walked quite a "different" path than most of us. Yikes!

Joan P. '66

We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives! Maya Angelou


Posted by: Joan Pettavino

Well, that's easy for YOU GUYS to say, but I highly doubt there are many women who would be willing to stand on the side of the road with their thumbs out. Talk about too scary!

Joan P. '66


Posted by: Taffy Cannon

One of my close friends from college came from a small mid western town and  was a very proper young lady, as well as the only Phi Beta Kappa in my immediate circle. We lived together for a year after graduation getting MAT degrees and then she moved to Boston where she got a job waiting tables, it being the early 70s when all the boomers were on the job market and a zillion of us had teaching certificates.

She met a guy who'd grown up in Alaska and was working as a chef at her restaurant. Over the next couple of years they hitchhiked and camped all over the country, stopping now and then to run a natural foods boarding house. Her hitching included several cross-country trips on her own, which scared the bejezus out of me when I thought about it. Women hitching back then were expected to come up with "gas, grass or ass." I never asked.

Eventually my friend settled in a large metropolitan area where she taught high school AP English, sponsored the newspaper, moved into administration, and retired as one of the top officials in the City School System.

Taffy Cannon, June '66
Carlsbad, California

Taffy, there is a book in there somewhere, I'm sure!

Judy Halligan Willingham '66

Posted by: Ray Justinic

I was driving down Western ave in my folks 59 Chevy Impala on a date with Lynn Carlson. I saw my younger cousin on about 99th in Western with his thumb out . I pulled over, told to get in the back and gave him a strong lecture about the dangers of hitchhiking. I told him he needed to shape up.

When we stopped at 103 in Western I heard the back door slam and watched as the kid ran off down 103rd. Turned out he was the spitting image of my cousin, just happened it wasn't .


Posted by:  Craig Hullinger

I have always hitchhiked and had few problems. I hitchhiked across the country and never waited more than an hour for a ride.

I met some interesting people and a few lunatics.

I caught a ride from MPHS when I was 14 with a guy in a Corvette. He put his land on my leg and asked me if I wanted to fool around. I said no.

I camped one time hitchhiking from San Diego up to Washington State and then back to Chicago. I would just get back in the woods and go to sleep. I was a bit paranoid after Vietnam so I tried to get into a hidden and defensible space.

I usually picked up hitchhikers when alone - figured I owed it for all the rides I hitched. When I visited Israel in 1970 I rented a car. Israeli soldiers both men and women were hitchhiking all around the country. I would pick them up with their automatic weapons. We would drive along and then the guys would ask to stop in the middle of no where. I would then watch him hike up to his tank or truck that was out in the boondocks.

One time another Marine and I were hitchhiking in California going to 29 Palms. Very isolated, few cars. So I hopped a train - but jumped back off - Was not sure where it was going.

One time another Marine and I were hitchhiking from Yuma Arizona to Phoenix, where he was buying a car. The 1st Sgt saw us hitchhiking, called me into his office and did a screaming lunatic Marine SNCO on me. Apparently it was against the Marine law.  He offered me a formal Court Martial or his punishment. I took his punishment, which was 30 days of mess duty.  And he tore up my OCS application.

I will still thumb a ride if it is logical. Still works.

Posted by: Joan Pettavino

Gosh, do you see what you've started here, Craig! These stories just keep getting more and more unbelievable. I can tell you this, if I had even thought of doing any hitch hiking back in the day, my father would have KILLED me, if I survived. Kathy Garrity used to call him Dirty Tony of the Southside Mafia. Too funny!

Joan P. '66

Posted by: Judy Halligan Willingham

My hitchhiking story is not so fabulous as others, but it illustrates what a small world it can be. In 1967, my new husband was in the Air Force, stationed in Newport News, VA. Most people think of that area as strictly Navy, but there is also a huge Air Force Base and an equally sizable Army Base in the area.

We were driving from Newport News to Silver Spring, Maryland for Thanksgiving with my in-laws, and we stopped to pick up a very young man in fatigues with a huge duffel bag. Our "new" car had been purchased from my husband's staff sergeant, and the dashboard was infested with cockroaches that would occasionally wander out. I would whack them with a newspaper without a word.

With that as a background, the conversation proceeded, first with "where you headed?" and then "where you from?" as topics. It turned out the young man was from Chicago, had gone to CVS and had stood me up on a blind date less than one year before this encounter.

And, we had one other thing in common. Neither of us had ever seen a cockroach before moving to that area. However, by the time we dropped him off in Northern Virginia, he had rolled up another section of newspaper and joined in the hunt.

Judy Halligan Willingham '66

Posted by: Joan Pettavino

Oh my God, Judy, what a small world indeed! What are the odds that this person you and your hubby picked up on the streets of Maryland would end up being from Chicago and someone that you "almost" knew! This was a GREAT story!

Thanks for sharing it - Joan

I once hitchhiked from Madrid to Sevilla.  It was the annual Fiera and no rooms were available, so we slept out on the grass (actually in an olive grove). Never paid anyone for gas...but I admit I was a silly ass for not considering
how dangerous it might have been....

Marie Stazzone


My father told me NEVER to pick up a hitchhiker but of course, I though he would agree with my obliging the two I did offer services to. On a snowy night on the Illinois Tollway headed from Route 59 to Farnsworth a man was pushing his car.  I thought, "Oh my gosh this poor soul is going to have a heart attack pushing his car in the snow and all alone." I got out and asked him if he would like a ride to the nearest gas station.  He said, "Yes" but then as I'm continuing on the tollway he says go here and drive me to my home!  Accessing the situation...in car alone...with stranger...cold winter's night and snow....I said, "Where to sir?"  He made it safely to his abode.

Second scenario a man was walking down Route 25 in St. Charles, ragged and limping.I rolled down the window and said, "Can I help you sir?"  He didn't even wait to answer just hopped right in.  He had a canvas zipper man bag. And as we started out towards his destination of Aurora Hotel he unzipped the bag and was going through everything.

I told him, "My father said I should never pick up strangers." Dumb statement after the fact!  Then as he rummaged I thought, "He's got a gun, he's got a gun."  He said, "Want to see all my bus passes?"  I'd rather see that then a gun. A little more chatter, a few more bus passes he was proud of and we arrived at Aurora Hotel and he got out, leaned over the window and said, "YOUR FATHER WAS RIGHT!"Somehow I felt spared from more than bus passes.

Linda (Speropulos) Punter '67

I bet these men have never forgotten you! I've picked only picked up a hitchhiker once or twice - with more trepidation than I felt when I was hitchhiking myself - the words of the 60's folk song "There but for fortune, go you or I" keep running through my head, then and now as I read your story. 

Good for you, Linda.


Reading all of this to catch up with what I've missed has jogged my memory about my picking someone up myself, but I did this as an adult somewhere in my 30's in
the parking lot of a shopping mall. This elderly gentleman seemed to be lost, looking for his car or something, and I stopped to ask him if I could help. He indeed was having a problem finding his car after he had gone into the mall to
buy something for his ailing wife. I paused and told him to get in so I could drive him around to find his car.  As he got in, he assured me that he was a nice person and would do me no harm.  Gee, did the look on my face give something away???  Anyway, it turned out that he had gotten turned around in the store and exited at the wrong  door.  He would have had a REALLY LONG walk to find his car.  So, I was truly glad I was there to help him out!


We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives! Maya Angelou


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