Monday, 8 September 2008

08 September 2008

ericksburg Virginia. He walked right in the road in the teeth of advancing traffic and almost got hit several times. I plodded along in the ditch. Any minute I expected the poor little madman to go flying in the night dead. We never found that bridge. I left him at a railroad underpass and in the dark because I was so sweaty from the hike I changed shirts and put on two sweaters; a roadhouse illuminated my sad endeavors. A whole family came walking down the dark road and wondered what I was doing. Strangest thing of all a tenorman was blowing very fine blues in this Pennsylvania hick house; I listened and moaned. It began to rain harder. A man gave me a ride back to Harrisburg and told me I was on the wrong road. I suddenly saw the little man standing under a street lamp with his thumb stuck out---poor forlorn man, poor lost sometimes-boy now broken ghost of the penniless wilds. I told my driver the story and he stopped to tell the old man. “Look here fella, you’re on your way West not East.” “Heh?” said the little ghost. “Can’t tell me I don’t know my way around here. Been walking this country for years. I’m heading for Canady.” “But this ain’t the road to Canada, this is the road to Pittsburgh and Chicago.” The little man got disgusted with us and walked off. The last I saw of him was his bobbing little white bag dissolving in the darkness of the mournful Alleghenies. “Hey” I yelled. Was muttering to himself. He had no use for quitters like me. “I’m going right…straight…into..her!” he said about Canada; said he was going to ride a freight up there. “Lehigh Valley, Lackawanna, Erie, I ride ’em all.” I thought all the wilderness of America was in the West till the ghost of Susquehanna showed me different. No, there is a wilderness in the East, it’s the same Wilderness Ben Franklin plodded in the oxcart days when he was postmaster, when George Washington was a wildbuck Indian fighter, when Daniel Boone told stories by Pennsylvania lamps and promised to find the gap; when Bradford built his road and men whooped her up in log cabins. There were no great Arizona spaces for the little man, just the bushy wilderness of Eastern Pennsylvannia, Maryland and Virginia, the backrounds, the

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