Opinion Maker for The Herald-Palladium

My wife and I recently took a great road trip out West. We made it to LA and back, with some memorable stops and visits. In several states alongside freeways and highways, I saw signs letting us know that it’s a “Prison Area – Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers.” That got me wondering: Does anybody ever hitchhike anymore? I couldn’t remember the last time I even saw a hitchhiker, and neither could Mary Kay.

Like happens so often, I remembered songs that had to do with hitchhiking. One of Marvin Gaye’s early Motown hits was “Hitchhike”; the Rolling Stones did a nice cover version. “Me and Bobby McGee” was one of the first Kris Kristofferson songs I ever heard, and of course Janis Joplin covered it magnificently. Vanity Fair sang “Hitchin’ a Ride” (might’ve been a one-hit wonder). I also decided to look and see if there were any hitchhikers along the way. We only saw one, in Albuquerque. He was hitching along the freeway in cold, snowy weather. We were two lanes over in heavy traffic, with a loaded car, but truthfully, may not have picked him up anyway.

John Jarpe is a retired educator and lives in Bertrand Township, near Niles. He taught and coached in Detroit, at Lake Michigan Catholic, and at Brandywine. He was a principal and special education director in St. Joseph and retired as superintendent of Brandywine in 2017. Email: jarpejohn@gmail.com