Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hitch-hiking to college, Part 2.

Here Gramps talks about heading back west, and a few memories (including another chicken story) from the following year.

Aug. 25th. Started back west. Took subway-surface car out to U. of P. Electric train to Bryn Mawr. To East Downington; walked 3 miles thru the town. To Coatsville, Gap, and then walked to Paradize. Took trolley to Lancaster. For the day, 66 miles, 3 walking.

Aug. 26th. From Lancaster, across Susquehanna River, thru York, Abbotstown, Gettysburg, Chambersburg and St Thomas. Tourists were scarce so we decided to stay in Sts Thomas for the night. The town had no street lights and very few stores. We found a park and set­tled down for the night. At five the next morning Ernie was up at five, saying he hadn’t been able to sleep, I asked him why and he said there were some squirrels in the trees overhead, they kept talking to each other all night and kept him awake. For the day we had covered 94 miles, 6 1/2 by hiking.

Aug. 27th. Walked 2 miles out of St. Thomas. Got 2 mile ride. Walked two more miles. Then got a ride with a man and his wife in a Willys-Knight. At Bedford they stopped at the famous Hoffman Inn and invited us to have dinner with them. A beautiful place serving southern fried chicken and waffles, served by colored mammys in authentic southern outfits. Neither Ernie or I had ever been in such an eating place, or had such a meal and were duly impressed with the charge of $2.25 each. In those days most restaurants made a charge of about 50¢ for a full meal. Next we went to Jamestown, Youngstown and Homestead. During the day Ernie investigated the contents of a barrel along the highway and got both hands covered with tar. Saw a Marmon car in trouble holding up traffic of 28 cars. A negro looking at the damage remarked, “That’s what these cheap guys get for not hiring a chauffeur.” Stayed at Homestead for the night. Made 139 miles for the day, 8 by hiking.

Aug. 29th. We had remained in Homestead for a day. Caught a ride to Pittsburgh. Then on to Darlington, and Canton, Ohio. Detoured thru Gallilee. At Alliance invited to dinner at the Gil­bert House with a young man and his mother. Visited McKinleys home. Spent night at Canton, Ohio at “Y”. On this day we covered a total of 107 miles, 3 by walking.

Aug. 30th. Because it would be difficult to catch a ride from Canton to Massilon, we paid a 15¢ fare and rode the trolley. From Massilon we walked one mile, then got a ride to Wooster. Caught another ride to Lima, Ohio, and stayed the night at the “Y” for which we were charged 75¢. Had made 160 miles, 2 walking.

Aug. 31st. From Lima to Monroeville, Cherubusco and Ligonier. While riding in an ancient Ford, the car lost a rear wheel and we had a walk of 3 miles into town. Stayed at Ligonier that night having covered a total of 115 miles, only three of them hiking.

Sept. 1st. From Ligonier to Goshen and Elkhart, Indiana. We rode for a while in the rear seat of an old Ford, with a gallon jug of corn whiskey between us. We ran into a severe windstorm which blew down some big trees. At Valparaiso, Indiana, we stopped, having covered 105 miles, 2 by hiking.

We had arrived there early in the day and decided to visit the University campus. Valparaiso University was one of the old­est colleges in the state and had a beautiful campus, but all the buildings were old and run down. At the time it was called the Poor Man’s College. We stopped at the business office and be­fore we knew what had happened, a lady named Corboy had relieved us of tuition and Ernie was enrolled in the Business College and I was in Engineering.

The year before I had written for a catalog, in which was outlined a course in Architecture. I found that the course had been discontinued. In talking with the Dean of the School of Engineering and explaining my training and years of experience in architects offices and with the Army Engineers he told me that if I would stay there two years, marking time, they could offer me something in the junior and senior years that I hadn’t already learned. The two of us got jobs in the Altruria Hall dining room to pay for our board and found a rooming house.

Two things I remember about the dining room. One when Ernie came hurrying out of the kitchen with a tray full of food to serve at one of the tables. He slipped on something, sat down flat on the floor with the tray of food balanced neatly on one hand over his head. The other remembered occasion, was meeting Jeannette, from Clinton, Iowa who was also working in the dining room. Ernie and I, Jeannette and another girl double dated and on Dec. 29th, 1922, Jeannette and I returned to Valparaiso where we were married.

Another event was the “Feast of the Fifteen,” put on by the K.I.P. Fraternity. Three of us were appointed to go out at night and borrow 15 chickens from a farmer. We made a successful raid on a chicken house. After our meal the next day we decided that there really wasn’t much sense in returning the remains of the “borrowed chickens” to the farmer.

As neither Ernie or I had the funds to continue our educa­tion at Valparaiso, the end of the school year found us both back home in Rochester, Minn.

1 comment:

  1. Your Grandfather attended my alma mater... how cool!