For an anthology* I recently wrote an essay about why the practice wasn’t cool in my Berkeley family — even though our 1969 Volkswagen bus was a hitch-hiker’s dream, even though it seemed everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s was hitch-hiking. My parents were big city people who didn’t buy the hitch-hiking compact. Plus, hitch-hiking was at the heart of serial killer lore for this California kid — the Zodiac Killer’s San Francisco, the Hillside Strangler‘s Los Angeles. One September 1978 day my family’s mindset — and a half a mile — separated me from a teenage girl who was mutilated after sticking out her thumb.
*In 2005 Tom and Simon Sykes produced No Such Thing As A Free Ride? in the UK, serialized by London Times and named Travel Book of the Week by the Observer. The new volume aims to capture what hitch-hiking means to Americans, and America.
What did hitch-hiking mean to your family (and your community) when you were a child and how did it affect your practices when you reached adolescence/adulthood?
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