Written in 2001 by
Ronald Joe Record

Git Outta Town and Don't Ever Come Back

Copyright, Ronald Joe Record
All Rights Reserved

In the Summer of 1976 my girlfriend Swarloka, our dog Zakatika and I were intent on going to the Rainbow Gathering in Montana. We were visiting my folks in Enid and we decided to try hopping freight. I had read some sort of Nolo Press book on how to hop so we headed out to the freight yard one day. Just like it said to do in the book, i walked right on up to the yard foreman and mentioned that my granddaddy had worked on the Rock Island line and he had told me that if i was ever in trouble to just ask the yard foreman when was the next freight to San Francisco and on what line. I did and he said to go down track number three about 50 yards and the 5 O'clock train was heading to San Francisco. So we did.

Next thing the book said was to forget about boxcars and other uncomfortable freight cars. What you look for is a train hauling automobiles. Sure enough, this one had a rack of new cars stacked three high. We climbed up and into a pickup truck on the top rack. The keys are in these as they have to be driven on and off the train cars. So now we've got radio, heater, cigarrette lighter and a truckbed with our bedrolls all layed out. We sunbathe across Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas falling asleep under the stars.

In the morning we both awake with a start, each looking at the other wondering where is the clack-clack sound of the train on track. We raise up and look around to find ourselves inside a train yard surrounded by high barbed wire topped fence. Well, nothing to be done but climb the fence but as i'm handing Zakatika over to Swarloka along comes the yard dick and slaps the cuffs on us. We are hauled in to the local police station and charged with trespass. They let Swarloka and Zakatika go but book me.

As they're booking me they have me empty my pockets and find i have about $800 in cash on me. They ask where i got the money and i tell 'em i teach Mathematics at the University of Florida. They ask me why i don't rent a car or take a bus instead of hopping freight and i tell 'em that Woody Guthrie said if you haven't hopped freight across America then you're not an American. They are astounded that i can quote Woody as he is sort of a folk hero here. Anyway, they book me but the jail is full so they have to put me up in a Hotel room. With dinner.

Swarloka and the dog sneak up the fire escape and spend the night in the cozy room with me. Next morning it's free breakfast in the Hotel lobby. I'm sitting around the lobby waiting for my araignment talking to the old old people who hang out in the lobby. They've all heard the story of how a Mathematician/Teacher with lots of money, a girlfriend and a dog is quoting Woody Guthrie and staying in the Hotel. Every single one of 'em is coming up to me and talking and being real friendly. They're all trying to convince me to settle down here in Clovis, New Mexico. Houses are cheap, they say, and we could use a Math perfessor. I politely decline.

Finally we're led into a conference room in the Hotel which also serves as a makeshift courtroom. The judge hears the prosecutor's case against me, frowns, looks at me in disgust and says "Case dismissed. Git outta town and don't ever come back." Well, i'd always wanted to hear that.

So, we left Clovis, New Mexico, a town where every single person we talked to wanted us to stay but a town where the Judge says to git out and never come back and we never went back.

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