Barry….Washington 1979

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B’fore gittin’ on the railroad, I did me a good lotta rubber trampin’. Las’ car I had was a Buick, ‘n I drove her till she give out. Left her sittin’ by the side a the road outside a Provo, Utah. I was on my way goin’ ta Palisade ta pick peaches, ‘n it started actin’ up. Doggone ‘ectrical system was goin’ haywire, shortin’ out ‘n dyin’ while I was drivin’ ‘long the road. I was figgerin’ if I could make it ta Palisade ‘n git me some work, I’d git ‘nough money to fix it proper. Well, it fine’ly give out fer good, the middle a nowhere, ‘n it shorted out. I pulled it over ta the side a the road ‘n lifted the hood ta take a look ‘n a mess a wires was burnin’ red hot. The insulation was meltin’ off ‘n drippin’ on the ground ‘n I grabbed me a rag ‘n begin ta rippin’ the wires out till the burnin’ stopped. Yanked ‘em out so’s they looked like a han’ful a burnt spaghetti hangin’ outta the hood.  Spent two days tryin’ ta piece ‘em back together, ‘n I never got the thing right. My hands was burnt from yankin’ on them hot wires, ‘n after two days a monkeyin’ ‘roun’ with that shit, I figgered hell with it.

There was some tracks a ways from the road, ‘n the Denver ‘n Rio Grande was runnin’ three, four trains a day through there. ‘N I figgered them’s were the same tracks run through Palisade, ‘cause I use’ ta watch ‘em load peaches onta the trains down by the warehouses.

I got my stuff outta the car ‘n begin hikin’ ‘long the tracks ta Provo,  figgerin’ I’d catch me a train. Had me a shitload a stuff: two suitcases, a duffel bag, ‘n sleepin’ bag. I ‘spect I follered them tracks eight, nine miles b’fore reachin’ Provo.  It was hotter ‘n blazes, ‘n I kept stoppin’ ta rest, settin’ ever’thing down ‘n goin’ through it ‘n throwin’ out the stuff I didn’t need. Ever’time I stopped, I’d lighten up the load by throwin’ out some more a my b’longin’s. I’d rearrange ever’thing, ‘n git rid a somethin’, an extry pair a boots in one spot, a Coleman stove in another.  The first thing ta go was them suitcases. First one, then a little further on, the other. The longer I carried that stuff, the less I felt like hangin’ on ta it. Left a trail looked like the Salvation Army’d been through there. By the time I got ta Provo, all’s I had was my duffel bag, half full, ‘n my sleepin’ bag.  I figger right then’s when I b’came an honest ta goodness tramp. Surprising what a man can accumulate if he don’t hafta carry it on his back.