Steve Sherry's The Vagabonds of '74

Sacramento, Jumping A Train?, Reno

Home
Early '74 Montclair, New Jersey, Alf a most unusual friend
Cedar Grove, New Jersey my little town....Miss Munches House, Newberry's, Cedar Grove Pool
Hitchhiking To Albuquerque 1972, The Commune and Krishnamurti, University of New Mexico
Seeing Badfinger At Carnegie Hall, The Dugout, McSorely's Ale House
Seeing Bob Dylan, "The Poet Lad" At Madison Square Garden
South End Pizzeria, Van Gogh and Plans for California
Jersey Shore Recollections, Summer of '71. St. Louis, The Gateway of the West, The Road to Colorado
Rocky Mountain Panorama, Problems with the Pinto, Ritchfield Utah???
California! Lennon's Lost Weekend, Venice Beach, Malibu
Pacific Coast Highway, Panoramic Visions and the Magic Carpet Ride To Santa Barbara
San Francisco, The Shelter, The Warf and the Hole in the Wall Hotel
Sacramento, Jumping A Train? Wierd But True, The Shock of My Life
Oblivion, Reno, Good Samaritans and The Ghosts of Woody Guthrie, James Dean and Tom Joad
A Night In The Can in Kansas
University of Kansas at Lawrence and The Doobie Brothers
True Meditation Foundation of Human Understanding, "How Your Mind Can Keep You Well"
Vagabonds of '74 Part 2: Old Friend Ollie, Meeting Veronica, The Suburban in Montclair
BOSTON, The Leap of Faith and A Night in a Shelter
Sleeping in a Newspaper Truck, Cambridge Hippies and No Turning Back
Squatter's Rights: 269 BROADWAY, Furnishing Our Hippie Pad
269 BROADWAY becomes Miss Dale's Farm
California Hippies Arrive. Free Food from The Docks, Strange Encounters
Kenmore Square Blood Bank
Leonard Cohen, Patron Saint, Ali Defeats Foreman and the Great Squash Fight of '74
Vivid Visitors from New Jersey,
The Invasion of Boston University, Taking Over The Dorm
Jonathan Swifts, Harvard Square and The Sugar Shortage
Beacon Hill Gulf Gas Station and Reflections Atop The Longfellow Bridge
Christmas 1974 in Montclair, Returning to Cambridge, "13th Floor Panarama"
Bandages, Canes, Barroom Brawls and Spontaneous Conversation
Meeting Leonard Cohen
The Beginning Of The End and Saying Goodbye
Vagabonds of 74 Epilogue
Essex Catholic Memories: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Marty Liquori, Mark Murro, City Stadium, St. Benedicts, Dylan, Positively 4th St.
The Essex Catholic Wrestling Team 1971: 8 District Champs, Ting A Lings, Hitting the Town....
Essex Catholic Teachers and Students, Br. Harrington, Mr. Lamb, Mr. Taglieri, Mr. Zarro, Simon and Garfunkel
Random Events at Essex Catholic 1967-1971: Stuff Happens! Bomb Scare, JUG!, Abbey Road
Essex Catholic Senior Year 1971: World Trade Center Rising, The Staircase from "A Hard Days Night?" Meditation, MySpace: "Jersey Shore," Crosby, Stills and Nash Epilogue
The Jersey Shore: May, 2011 Brielle....Sea Girt....Introspection On The Sand.....
Essex Catholic Memories 2012

Weird But True Turn Of Events   

In the morning we left the key at the desk and went for breakfast at a Greasy Spoon.
There, we scanned our map for the trek to Sacramento.
 
 
The word "Sacramento" had a nice ring to it and maybe our Journey had been sort of Sacramental at least that's how I thought of it. 

 We made our way to the freeway but had to wait a while before we were able to snag a ride and hours later we found ourselves in the Middle of Nowhere.....
no sign of Civilization in sight.
 
Hitchhiking was getting to be a drag and inbetween rides we began discussing the possibility of Jumping a Freight Train.........

We always held it as an option, but before this, circumstances didn't warrant it.
 
 
Now, the thought of jumping a train seemed appealing and was reinforced by seeing sections of Railroad Track as we made our way along the Highway.

Hell, we could climb on a Boxcar and be sleeping on a "bed of straw" while the train streaked toward New Jersey...... Be home in two days. Maybe even meet some Hobos, who knows?
 
 
We decided that if the opportunity arose, we'd be ready.
 
The fact that there was No Way of Knowing where the train would be going was just a technicality.
 
In our Great Wisdom we would try our luck.

In the meantime, we had to get to Sacramento.
 
 
It was already late in the day so it was a welcome sight when I stuck out my thumb and a car pulled over.
He wasn't going into the City but he got us as far as the outskirts.

When we were let off we walked down an Exit Ramp as darkness was descending and the air becoming saturated with an unpleasant chill.

At the end of the ramp was a Hamburger Joint seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

We went inside, parked our belongings at a table and made our way to the counter.

The place was filled with Locals,  placing orders amid conversation and laughter. 

When it was our turn we ordered  two hamburgers and two cups of water and while Alf waited, I busied myself at the condiment counter, loading up on extra ketchup, mayo, relish and saltines.........   

With  fatigue settling over us, we sat down to eat.....conversation was subdued.  
 
 
 
Just beyond the parking lot was a Railroad Crossing, an extension of the tracks we'd seen along the highway. 
 
Twenty foot tall Warning Lights stood  in the shadows. 

At that point we had little enthusiasm for Jumping a Train but felt there was no alternative.
We were desperate and out of desperation we were willing to take the chance.

"Alf, we're gonna have to jump that train. I don't know what else we can do. "

We devoured the hamburgers but remained in our seats trying to bolster each others confidence and waiting for our energy to rebound.........
 
Then it was time.....

"Ya ready Davey?"

"I'm ready."

"All right, let's go."


In the parking lot we were greeted by the damp nighttime chill. 

Once we got a taste of that, it reminded us how "iffy" the situation was.
We absolutely had to make something work.
 
 
We headed for the crossing, each step bringing us further from the parking lot and deeper into darkness.
 
We walked along the tracks which sat upon a rise about two feet high, hoping to find a place where the tracks were lower, giving us a better chance at jumping a train.   

We saw there wasn't going to be any improvement though, and realized we'd have to scale the embankment as the train approached, if it approached at all.
 
We assessed the situation, going over how to throw a bag on a Moving Train while barely able to see in front of us .

"Ya get as close as ya can Alf, toss the bag and guitar up onto a car, then grab on and pull yourself up."

"All right,  I got it," he said, not sounding totally convinced. 

 
As we're formulating the strategy, there's a Rumbling in the Distance.
I lean my ear to listen and sure enough my perception is confirmed.

"A train's coming! We'll have to jump it right here!"

 
We positioned ourselves as close to the track as possible..............

There wasn't time for second thoughts, our Meal Ticket had arrived and we would have to catapult onto the back of that Monster on the first try.......
 
We tensed or bodies and readied ourselves for the Leap.....!!!!!!!
 
 
.......Which Was Complete Fantasy...........
 
because when that Juggernaut came roaring around the bend, all we saw was a blur........ 
 
 

The noise was Overwhelming, drowning out our voices, Paralyzing us as it tore through the night........

Car after car Slammed Past, churning up a soot filled wind that threw debris into our faces............
 
 
We pulled back, giving it plenty of room as it passed......leaving us stunned........

Any attempt at getting on that Train would have been disastrous, with or without our bags........

    
Once it had gotten down the track the night again grew quiet....................
 
and recovering from the Shock, we broke out into a Spontaneous, Giddy, then Uncontrollable Laughter. 
 
 
It was several minutes before we were even able to talk.........
 
 
"Man!!!   We were gonna jump on that thing???"

"Ohhh, that thing would've hung our asses out to dry!"

"Did you see that???

"The two happy hobos, huh? We would've ended up hobo stew!!!"

We were doubled over and laughing so hard that we forgot all about our situation. 
 
 
 
It was a while before we were able to get hold of ourselves but when we did we realized there was nothing else to do but start walking.
 
 
 
Not wanting to backtrack, we just followed the path that ran along the tracks.
It had to lead somewhere.............. Maybe there was a road ahead....................
 
 
 
 
        
               The Shock of My Life
 
 
 
Eyes like saucers, we edged down the trail barely able to see.
 
What appeared to be  Farm Machinery littered the landscape.  
 
We kept blundering into undergrowth and grabbing each other by the arms, continued moving cautiously  forward.

I remembered from reading Carlos Castaneda that the proper way to walk in the dark
was to take high steps to keep from stumbling.
 
I passed it on to Alf and it proved effective.

Lifting our feet high and coming straight down, we avoided tripping over clumps of weeds and other obstructions.

In a few minutes we'd gotten used to the process and were proceeding along when we came upon a large Silhouette in the middle of the path........

Was it  another piece of  Machinery?
 
Whatever it was, it was bigger than the both of us put together.....

In the pitch darkness we began negotiating around it, trying to make out what it might be..........

"What is it Alf?..... Huh? .....W-W-What is it?"

Suddenly, IT MOVES........!!!
 
 
We freeze.............and before we can react a PIERCING SHRIEK erupts.........
 
 
The Shriek was repeated and cut right through us as we held onto each other for dear life........
 
Stunned, wierded out, but knowing not to run we inched away fixated on the image.........

"Ohhh, shit.....it's an effing Mule !!!    Ohhh...scared the shit out of me..!!!"

"Man, let's get the hell outta here!!!

The Mule stood his ground and now we had to walk past the son of a bitch.
 
With utmost care we maneuvered around him, putting as much distance between us and him as possible,
all the while hoping he wouldn't charge........

"Easy now.............easy boy....."  

He eyed us as we angled past, careful not to turn our backs.
 
When we got far enough away we picked up the pace and he disappeared behind us..........

"Man, scared the shit outta me! Son of a bitch!!!"

Our legs shook with nervous energy.  It would take another 15 minutes to calm down.

"Did you see that thing man?" Did that really just happen?"

 
We had No Earthly Idea where we were or where we were going.
 
 
In the distance were the lights of a Farm House and we stood pondering the situation.
 
The best strategy we could come up with was to approach in the direction of the house while still keeping a good distance away and search for a road out.

 
"This way Alf.....follow me," I said,  as I approached a Wire Fence.
 
Fortunately, it wasn't Barbed Wire and would be easy to squeeze through by Separating the Strands.
 
I put down my duffel bag, reached out and groped for the Wire.............

 
 
          .....ZZZZZZZ............POW !!!..........  ZZZZZZZZZZ  Bang !!! 
 
 
I'm jolted by a Surge of Electricity passing through my body,
 
lighting up the night with an intense flash of Cobalt Blue....
 
I leap backwards dazed and stunned, seeing a wreath of stars all around my head..........

"Aaaahhhhh !!!" A guttural cry escapes from my throat while I'm still in Midair.
 
Standing next to me, Alf saw everything.

"You okay man?!!??" he cried out, "You okay???"

"Wow....... yeah..... I'm okay......shit, what was that an Electric Fence???"

"Yeah, an Electric Fence,  you okay??"

"Yeah....I'm okay.....I think....." 

Hearts pounding, we were Traumatized anew.
 
An Electric Fence to keep cattle from running amok,
for them, an unpleasant sensation...... for me, a Jolt to the Core........
 
 
 
 
Man, what next???
That was the end of that short cut.....!!!
We turned and stumbled down a hillside and collapsed to the ground. 

We propped our duffel bags behind us, leaned back, shut our eyes and immediately nodded off to sleep.   

I don't know how much time elapsed but I was awakened by the cold and reached over to
shake Alf awake.

"Alf, wake up man. We can't stay here! We gotta find a better place!"

We staggered down the slope, across a narrow road and into a grove of trees where the ground was flat and okay for sleeping.........and began looking for twigs and branches to start a fire.

We donned extra shirts, pants and socks, anything left over was used as a pillow.
 
Alf wrapped himself in the Afghan and I thrust my feet into my Duffel Bag and we settled in for a very uncomfortable night.......
 
 
 
Just before sunrise I heard voices and moments later, the sound of engines erupted as farm workers began kicking over machinery to start their day.

This got me to my feet in a hurry.
We were on private property and it wouldn't be wise to linger.

Meanwhile, Alf hadn't budged.
He lay face down, wrapped in the Yellow and Orange Afghan. 

"Yo, buddy! We can't stay here! We gotta get up right now!"

As Alf stirs and rises off the ground, I happen to look up and make eye contact with a group of Mexican laborers about 30 yards away.

They were curious and maybe sympathetic, knowing how cold it had been the night before.
 
We hoisted our bags and stumbled onto the road looking more like characters from The Grapes of Wrath than suburban boys from New Jersey.

 
We were no longer entertaining Romantic Illusions.
 
The road had turned cruel and was threatening to take us out.
We just wanted to get back home but we didn't dare ponder the effort........

It was so very, very  far away.........







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