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Back in 1955 I was a college freshman with no automobile.  I was attending Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, living on campus. On Friday afternoons occasionally I would want to go back home for the weekend, which was a 35 mile trip to San Augustine.  The only way for me to make the trip was to hitch-hike, or “ride my thumb” as the saying was.


Back then hitch-hiking was an acceptable mode of transportation from point A to point B, especially if you had on a college jacket which would identify you as a student.  I have ridden in log trucks, pulp wood trucks, pick-up trucks, and sedans of all types.  I never experienced any trouble.


One Friday afternoon as I was preparing to walk out to highway 21 East out of Nacogdoches and try to thumb a ride, a fellow student named *Jack called to me. “Hey, Neal. You don’t need to hitch-hike; I am on my way to San Augustine now. Come hop on the back of my bike.”

I knew Jack, and I knew that was a little “wild”.  I also knew that he owned a rather large motorcycle.  I had never ridden on a motorcycle before, so there was this little voice that said, “Go ahead, chicken – ride on it!”  Then this other little voice said, “Better not ride with Jack on that motorcycle.  You could get killed!”  So, what does a 19 year old kid do in a situation like this?  Well, naturally, he hops on the back of the motorcycle and holds on.


We headed out highway 21 for the 35 mile trip home, no helmets, of course – just the wind in our faces.  Jack kept getting faster and faster, and I was holding him around the waist, tighter and tighter.


About fifteen miles out of Nacogdoches is a small village named Melrose.  There were small country stores on either side of the road, a couple of them quite close to the highway.  A card table with four elderly gentlemen playing dominoes sat under one of the store awnings, very near the highway.  Jack eased over toward them and zoomed by very fast.  I glanced back and I swear that we blew the dominoes off the table.


By that time we were doing close to 100 miles per hour, and I was terrified.  I imagine Jack was having a great time scaring me to death. He did a great job of that. We finally arrived home and I noted the time – we had traveled 35 miles in 20 minutes.  My math suggests that we averaged 90 miles per hour.


I kept thinking of what my mother used to tell me….”Son, be sure you keep on clean underwear because you never know when you might have to go to the hospital.”  I could not remember if I had changed underwear or not, but it probably would not have mattered anyway after this ride. 

By the way, I have never been on a motorcycle since that day, and don’t plan to do so ever again.  Shortly after that incident, I was able to buy my first automobile, a 1950 Chevrolet coupe.  No more hitch-hiking for me again.  In fact, hitch-hiking is against the law in most states.

* Name changed to protect the guilty.


107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972
cell: 936-275-6986

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