Elijah Wald - Scrapbook of Hitchhiking Quotations

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Riding with Strangers originally opened with about a dozen pages of quotations about hitchhiking, which my editor wisely requested that I cut down to one. That left me with all these quotations I liked, and I had to put them somewhere . . . Most are gleaned from the internet, including about a dozen from other hitchhiking web sites, of which I especially recommend Digihitch and Bernd Wechner's pages.

When I was a girl at camp in northern Michigan I hitchhiked short distances. I may add that those in West Virginia are very good about picking up one on the highway.”
– Philippa Allen, social worker, in the 1936 Report of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor

Reagan ... stood on the corner of routes 26 and 29 in Ohio while thumbing a ride to Dixon.
– Ronald Reagan Birthplace website

You may call him a tramp, but I know it goes a little deeper than that. He’s a -- highway chile.
– Jimi Hendrix, “Highway Chile”

The summer of 1974 was brutally hot in New York and I had kept thinking about how nice and icy it must be at the North Pole and then I thought: wait a second, why not go? You know, like in cartoons where they just hang "Gone to the North Pole" on their doorknobs and just take off. . . . I had decided to hitchhike so one day I just walked out to Houston Street, weighted down with seventy pounds of gear, and stuck out my thumb. "Going north?" I asked the driver, as I struggled into his station wagon. After I got out of New York, most of the rides were trucks until I reached the Hudson Bay and began to hitch in small mail planes.
– Laurie Anderson

The hitch-hiker stood up and looked across through the windows. “Could ya give me a lift, mister?”
The driver looked quickly back at the restaurant for a second. “Didn’t you see the No Riders sticker on the win’shield?”
“Sure—I seen it. But sometimes a guy’ll be a good guy even if some rich bastard makes him carry a sticker.”
– John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

You built that highway, and they can put you in jail for thumbing a ride on it.
– Woody Guthrie

I will hail them, my brothers of the wheel, and pitch them a yarn, of the sort that has been so successful hitherto; and they will give me a lift, of course....
– Mr. Toad, The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)

[Archbishop Dell’Acqua’s] car had broken down en route to Monte Cassino and he had had to “hitchhike” in order to get there in advance of the Pope, whose speech he was carrying.
– Report on Conversation between Archbishop Angelo Dell'Acqua, Substitute for Ordinary Affairs, Secretariat of State, the Vatican, and US Ambassador William Sherman, Rome, October 30, 1964

When my curacy was finished I had three months free and decided to hitchhike to Jerusalem.
– Dwight Longenecker, Southwest District Organizer for the St. Barnabas Society

The car broke down . . . however we flagged a passing lorry . . . and whirled off.
– Noel Coward, Middle East Diary, 23 Sept. 1944

You grab a plane or get on your thumb and hitchhike to the other side of the continent for good and all.
– Kenneth Rexroth, Disengagement: The Art of the Beat Generation,1957

How many times I've
hitchhiked away;
the same pack on my back.
– Gary Snyder, “Robin”

‘My proposal is: To set off walking this afternoon. To stop when we are tired. To get a lift when we can. To walk when we can't. To do it at once, and do it cheap.’
– Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit

Holly came from Miami, FLA,
Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A.
– Lou Reed, “Walk on the Wild Side”

After an extremely successful double-header concert at Carnegie Hall in 1969, I chartered a plane to fly us to and from Boston for a concert the next night. Artie decided he would pursue a favorite hobby and hitchhike to Boston instead of taking the plane. A young couple picked him up because he 'looked like one of those two guys, Simon and Garfunkel.' Even after producing his driver's license, the couple refused to believe that the real Art Garfunkel would be hitchhiking! Artie arrived on time for the concert, but the kind couple never picked up the two complimentary tickets that were left at the box office for them...just as the hitchhiker had promised."
– Simon and Garfunkel manager Mort Lewis

It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I've gone to look for America
– Paul Simon, “America”

When I was hitch-hiking, people had to follow me, 'cause I didn't stay long. That's what I liked about hitch-hiking. If a crowd wasn't big enough, I kept walkin.'
– Brownie McGhee

I was hitchhiking in California and was picked up by my history professor, and he said he was so glad to see me. And I said "why?" And he said, "Well, all the more interesting students have dropped out of college."
– John Cage

I hitchhiked about five thousand miles in six weeks . . . Part of the way I got a lift with a retired Sydney bus driver called Dusty Ploughman (this was really his name); he was towing an eight-birth caravan just for himself and a white cockatoo known as Charlie, which swore like trooper. . . Another lift I had was in a police car - they had no objection to giving a lift to a hitchhiker, and actually took me several hundred miles, onto the next one-horse town. Sometimes I managed to hitchhike as much as 500 miles in a day.
– Keith Mason, founder of eBooks-UK Ltd

“Damn,” said I, “I’ll just hitchhike on that highway . . .”
– Jack Kerouac, “Good Blonde”

'[I] went away through France.'
'Alone, and on foot?' said I.
'Mostly a-foot,' he rejoined; 'sometimes in carts along with people going to market; sometimes in empty coaches. Many mile a day a-foot, and often with some poor soldier or another, travelling to see his friends. I couldn't talk to him,' said Mr. Peggotty, 'nor he to me; but we was company for one another, too, along the dusty roads.'
– Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

I hitched through Texas when the sun was beatin' down
Won't nothin' bring you down like your hometown
– Steve Earle, “Hometown Blues”

“Dear Mom, I've hitchhiked to San Francisco. Don't be mad.”
– Janis Joplin

Bobbie thumbed a diesel down, just before it rained,
Took us all the way to New Orleans.
– Kris Kristofferson, “Me and Bobbie McGhee”

I had a boyfriend for a while who worried about me hitchhiking, because I'm from Alaska and you hitchhike everywhere, but he was from California.
– Jewel

When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swarthmore,
But she changed her mind one day.
Standin' on the turnpike, thumb out to hitchhike,
“Take me to New York right away.”
– The Mamas and the Papas, “Creeque Alley” (Phillips-Gilliam)

The act-symbol dichotomy refers to the notion that some gestures are pure actions, while others are intended as symbols. For instance, an action gesture occurs when a person chops wood or counts money, while a symbolic gesture occurs when a person makes the “okay” sign or puts their thumb out to hitchhike.
– A Brief Overview of Gesture Recognition

I was hitchhiking from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean with a guy who had just graduated from Harvard, who happened to have been a white guy named Lawrence Biddle Weeks, who’s now an Episcopal priest, having been a lawyer. We had run into each other by accident at the dock in Dar es Salaam. He said his fantasy was to go from the Cape to Cairo. Mine was to cross the Equator. We flipped a coin and the Equator won. We went from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without ever leaving the ground.
– Henry Louis Gates

Reasons for making hitchhiking a crime should be obvious. There are a lot of crazies out there. You climb into their car and heavens only knows what they might try to do to you. Illegal or not I believe that hitchhiking is something that everyone, in order to live a full life, should do at least once. I did it one time and I highly recommend it. Picking up hitchhikers, on the other hand, I have never done and don’t recommend.
– Grand Rapids Community College Collegiate

As we tramped gaily out at the gate of the town, we overtook a peasant's cart, partly laden with odds and ends of cabbages and similar vegetable rubbish, and drawn by a small cow and a smaller donkey yoked together. It was a pretty slow concern, but it got us into Heilbronn before dark – five miles, or possibly it was seven.
– Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad

If you’s a hitchhikin’ woman
You can thumb a ride with me
– Warren Zevon, “Hitchhikin’ Woman”

I broke down in Louisiana
and I had to thumb a ride
got in the first car that pulled over
you can't be picky in the middle of the night
he said
baby, do you like to fool around
baby, do you like to be touched
I said
maybe some other time
fuck you very much
– Ani DiFranco, “Every State Line”

Auto, Auto, may I have a ride?
(thumb a ride)
Yes, sir. Yes, sir - step right inside
(make fist, extend thumb, and talk with it)
– Nursery rhyme on Milwaukee Public Library website

When their imagination bids
Hitch-hike a thousand miles to find
The Hesperides that's on their mind.
– W. H. Auden

Thumbs up, meaning “everything is great” or “I’m Okay” to the West can be equated to the “middle finger” by Middle Easterners. Of note: hitch-hikers do not “thumb a ride”, rather they hold their hand horizontal to the road and wave it up and down as though telling motorists to “reduce speed”.
– US Military Sealift Command Guidelines for troops in Arab countries

I abode a long while by the sea, pondering my case, till one day I caught sight of a ship passing in the midst of the clashing sea, swollen with dashing billows. So I took a piece of a white shroud I had with me and, tying it to a staff, ran along the sea-shore, making signals therewith and calling to the people in the ship, till they espied me and hearing my shouts, sent a boat to fetch me off.
– The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

I’m going to St. Louis but my next stop just might be L.A. -- that’s what I say.
I got no money in my pocket so I’m going to have to hitch hike all the way.
I’m gonna find that girl if I have to hitch hike around the world.
– Marvin Gaye, “Hitch Hike” (Gaye/Stevenson/Paul)

Having seen a hitchhiker thumbing a ride while towing a fridge along behind him, this image imprints itself on Tony Hawks’ brain. He tells friends of the sight for years, only to awaken after a night of indulgence to find a bet scrawled on a cocktail napkin challenging him to attempt to hitchhike Ireland’s perimeter with his own fridge.
– Promotional material for Round Ireland with a Fridge, by Tony Hawks

I’m walking down the highway,
Sweating like salt pork,
I’m putting down this country town,
’Cause my soul’s up in New York.
That’s why I’m thumbin’ a ride,
Thumbin’ a ride,
Thumbin’ a ride,
On the road.
– Jackie Lomax, “Thumbin’ A Ride” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller)

I hitchhiked across this country five or six times. I rode the rails. I lived in hobo camps. Those things don't exist anymore. What exists now is a very mechanized, technocratic world in which there are rules and regulations at every stop. I suppose that's why a lot of people find adventure on the Internet. That's their idea of being interactive. My idea of being interactive is going on out and doing it on the street. Anybody who would do it [hitchhike today] would be remarkable kind of person with a great flair for life and would be somebody I would love to meet.
– Harlan Ellison

I hitchhiked up to Sam Houston State Teacher's College, which was on the Dallas Highway, 70-some odd miles north of Houston. . . And I hitchhiked back home. I recognize hitchhiking has gone out of fashion, but in that time it was very common for people to , and for people to give hitchhikers rides. A different era.
– Dan Rather

When I was fourteen, I had already hitchhiked with no money whatsoever from Central Pennsylvania down to Florida. I didn't get into Florida; the police stopped me. . . . In Georgia, they turned us back. They said you shouldn't be on the road. They were very good. I am very grateful to those police in Georgia. They took me in; I slept in their jail; they fed me; they gave me fifty cents, I think, and sent me back home.
Again and again, when I was 14 and 15, I would leave home with 25 or 35 -- 35 cents sticks in my mind. I think I had a quarter and a dime on two of my trips. Never phased me a bit. Go right straight across the continent. In those days, it was easy to do. Everybody had a new car, and they wanted to show it off. If they liked you, they would pick you up and often times feed you and take you to their home. And there were no weirdoes on the road then. There were, but we never saw them. I had a vivid experience in those years. I went everywhere, and I did it on nothing.
– James A. Michener

I hightailed it and buried all the hash out in the woods. Went to Jerusalem for awhile - about a week. Came and hitchhiked back up in the dead of night, dug it up, took it down to Jerusalem and was selling it in a hotel room when the police walked in.
– Michael Gira, of the Swans

I hitchhiked around Europe and fell in love with Europe.
– Terry Gilliam

I hitchhiked around the country when I was younger
– John Sayles

I hitchhiked across America more than once, and have more than once been a thousand miles from home with less than a dollar in my pocket.
– Stacy Johnson, host of "Money Talks"

I hitchhiked to New York. Please – do not put me in any category with fucking Kerouac.
– Dan Fante

The hitchhiking part came after I ran away from a couple of foster homes, but yeah, there were a few jail experiences as well, all of which were for being underage and on the road.
– Allison Anders, filmmaker

I left school and ended up grabbing a guitar and a suitcase and a dream, and I hitchhiked around the country for close to five years. I’d go to a town, find the best band, ask to sit in, and kind of like a gunslinger, smoke the band’s guitarist and a couple of days later I’d have his gig.
– Phil Brown

I hitchhiked all around the country. I went out West and visited the Hopi Indian Reservation and found that very exciting. Quite by chance, I was privileged to see a rain dance at Oraibi. I guess I was about eighteen or nineteen.
– Robert Smithson

I used to hitchhike a lot, all over the country. At the time I never met anybody who hitchhiked more . . . and I saw a lot of accidents. And sometimes the car or the truck I was in would get there first. So it piqued my interest . . .
– Ralph Nader

William Carlos Williams was the one who meant the most to me, so I hitchhiked to see him, from Cambridge to Paterson, wearing my chino pants, and I called him from a bar nearby. "Could I come to see you?" "Sure, come on, kid." So he let me in, and said, "Sit down over there. Do you write poetry?" "Well, yeah, I guess so. . .I suppose." He went about his business, planning his deliveries, and typing something. He glanced at me from time to time. After fifteen minutes or so, he said, "OK, kid, you can go now." He understood that I just wanted to look at him.
– Robert Bly

I was doing acid one night and it started to get light out and I was hitch-hiking and got as far as Junction City, Kansas. At that time my hair was down to here and I had a permanent. I just turned 17. I guess hitch-hiking was against the law in that state. The cop said to show him some I.D. I had eight I.D.s. This was four days after the other bust. We were sleeping under bridges. So I was down at the station for three days.
– Tommy Bolin

I eventually dropped out of college, but before that I hitchhiked across the country.
– Jonathan Lethem

I originally hitchhiked here at the end of '76, but I didn't officially move to New York until January '77.
– Jeff Koons

I was 16 in the summer of love. One sunny morning I left home in Levittown, PA (where all the houses look the same) with a backpack and thirty dollars, to hitchhike to CA. Ended up in jail three times, saw a lot of the country and didn't come home all summer. When cops would call my mother and tell her, "We have your son," she'd just ask them how I was doing. "He's a runaway, right?" they'd assume. "Oh no, he's on vacation," she'd assure them. When they'd threaten to incarcerate me for three days for hitchhiking on the turnpike, she'd say okay, I'd probably consider that a part of the total experience (which I did).
– Dan Hicks

I hitched all over the place, down as far as Kerry and up as far as Belfast. But it got to the stage where I was usually confident of coming first or second in the competitions, and there was often good prize money that came in very handy at the time! I didn't mind the hitching at all, and I enjoyed myself everywhere I went.
– Anthony Kearns, tenor

I’ve known the US for a long time. I visit often, I’ve studied there, worked as a forklift operator for Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis and as a soda jerk at Howard Johnson’s. I’ve hitchhiked across the whole United States
– Jacques Chirac

I, with some friends in 1961 or 62, drove an old ambulance to Baghdad. We didn't actually reach Baghdad - it finally broke down on the road to Damascus outside Beirut. But I hitchhiked home from Beirut on my own.
– Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd)

I was on my way to Bosnia, with a group of five or six people, to travel through that country. I had not been there since I was a teen-ager, when I'd hitchhiked through Yugoslavia
– Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

It's the same kind of drive that makes you want to do it when you're a kid, and struggling on with no money ... and hitchhiking with your guitar, which is what I used to do all the time
– Mark Knopfler

When we were 18 years old she and I hitchhiked from Maine to L.A. together, she sporting a hot pink Mohawk and me blue and purple dreadlocks. We hitchhiked all around for about three months. It was just like looking at the bloodstream of America. We only had one problem the entire trip: when we got surrounded by a gang under the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri after a July 4th fireworks celebration, she pulled out some mace and maced the men and we ran away unscathed.
– Mistress Ilsa Strix

I was about 20, hitchhiking through California and Oregon and Washington, riding freight trains, sleeping under bridges and viaducts. I didn't like that at all. . . It's like picking cotton. It's something you did, but never want to do again.
– Willie Nelson

I went to Kent State University. They said they would pay my room and board if I had a paraplegic roommate. So I had this woman with tredrixahxia, which is a debilitating nerve disease. She could drink a cup of coffee, but then it might fly out of her hand, and she tahk rike thisssshhh. She was so much fun; she was great. . . . [W]e hitchhiked from Ohio to North Carolina, and the trip took four days. People would stop and we would say, "We just got married and then this had to happen." And they would give us money, feed us, pay our way into hotels. For her, after being patronized all her life, it felt so good to take advantage of people, and abuse their good nature. And it was fun for me too. She's died since then. But we had a lot of fun for a while, there.
– David Sedaris

I used to hitchhike around, up to South Carolina, or over to Daytona, so I could sit at the rest stops and have time to write songs. I thought I was trying to relive the Jack Kerouac days. The whole hitchhiking thing was just too damn scary after a while… But it builds a certain character that you don't get from playing Little League.
– Rob Thomas, of Matchbox Twenty

My mother and I hitchhiked to see the Rolling Stones. Both of my parents were pretty far out.
– Mario Van Peebles

I hitchhiked to Morocco all the way through the Sahara and that was exciting too.
– Amitav Ghosh

I spent about eight months, hitchhiking around the country, actually it was four months hitchhiking in the south. And those four months in the south, hitchhiking around, every time I wandered into a banjo picker, I'd watch closely to see what he was doing.
– Pete Seeger

I had just gotten back from a hitch hiking trip through Mexico – after quitting my job at a health food store – and needed a new kind of way to make money.
– Exotic dancer Shannon Kringen

I hitchhiked into Lhasa with another American woman I met in China.
– Photographer Leslie DiRusso

I hitchhiked Route 22, the William Penn Highway, to Chicago and then took Route 66 through Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma down to the Texas Panhandle. When I got into Arizona and New Mexico there were so few cars that I had no choice but to ride freight trains to travel further west.
– Rene Champion

We'd tell our art teacher we weren't going to class, and that we needed to borrow markers to make hitchhiking signs. He'd go, “Oh, don't tell me this. The world's not as nice a place as you think.” And you're that age where you're just thinking, “Oh, please.”
– Patti Scialfa

I love to [hitchhike] in some of the smaller communities. That’s one of the upsides of celebrity. Generally people recognize me right away and I get a good ratio of pick-ups. It works in Baltimore in the snow.
– John Waters

I used to hitchhike everywhere, holding on to the belief that if you're not afraid of anything, nothing bad can happen to you because you're not attracting those dark forces. I still like to believe that's true in theory, but I don't hitchhike anymore. At least, I haven't in a long time. I suppose if circumstances were right, I'd still hitchhike with a friend and in countries where it's not dangerous. Also, yes, I think it is a matter of gut instinct. I think I had so many positive experiences traveling and hitchhiking on my own because I expected to have them. I believed people were good and they were good, usually. It sounds terribly naive, but I also believe there's truth to it. Of course, there has to be caution and you have to know how to trust your instincts.
– Laurie Gough

A few days later, I hitchhiked back to Switzerland, because I was very sick. I was near death. I never made it. They found me unconscious in a forest in Germany, with typhoid.
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

One time I was involved in a sort of "sudden-onset" threesome with a male partner and a guy he'd picked up hitchhiking, and when the guy took his pants off, he was wearing lacy pink panties. It's such a simple thing, but what a charge! It represented to me that I couldn't rest on my ordinary gender expectations.
– Carol Queen

I met this blind chick from Montreal on the road in the States. She was going to every Stones gig, hitchhiking blind as a bat to get to the next concert. I said, "This is not safe," so I would fix her up a ride with the truckers; I thought, She's going to do it anyway, and I didn't want her to get run over.
– Keith Richards

I hitchhiked, took trucks 'n' trains--anything that would pick me up.
– John Lee Hooker

I was hitch-hiking across the country to go to New York with this thing. I knew three or four chords. People would give me rides, and I really didn't know much about what I was doing. It was in the middle of Kansas somewhere. Anytime guys saw a guitar, they usually pulled up and asked you to sing for your ride. I wasn't really any good then. I couldn't play the damn thing, really. So I sold them the guitar and wrote them out a few chords...your basic three-chord progressions. I gave them the guitar for fifty cents...that's how hungry I was. I took off down the road to the nearest beanery.
– Cisco Houston

My brother and I hitchhiked to Milwaukee, went to Orth's Music Store there, and asked the guy who was really great, and he played Eddie Lang for us.
– Les Paul

There were times I'd get out there and hitch hike. Maybe I shouldn't tell it now, but just get out on the road and hitch hike. . . Never a problem. I would hitch hike all the way to Norfolk. . .Yes, and you find out how nice—people are really nice. You may find one or two, but generally people, I believe, are kind hearted. Unfortunately, that one or two can run havoc, you know.. . And it runs across color lines, you know.
– Lindsay Cherry

[My father and mother] immediately hit it off. Went on the road. Back in those days when you were in love you had a road trip together. So they went hitchhiking to Miami Beach through the south. But she couldn't do it in green hair. She tried dying her hair brown but it turned bright purple. She went on the road with purple hair.
– Bibbe Hansen

When I was 19-20 I travelled overland, mostly hitchhiking, through South America.
– Sharon Maas

I hitchhiked around Europe, sang in the streets, collected money. I lived a week under a bridge once, the Pont Neuf.
– Paul Simon

I hitchhiked with a Canadian named Bill from Aix, all the way down the boot of Italy, over to Corfu, through Greece, and on to Crete where I lived in a Minoan cave near a town called Matala on the South side of the island with a bunch of hippies and drop-outs from the states.
– Marshall Chapman

Myself, a girlfriend and just another friend of ours who was a guy but not a boyfriend well we got together and hitchhiked across Canada. . . We were sixteen or seventeen. Our parents to this day had no idea. I told my mom I was just going to my friend's house. . . Oh, we had a ball and remember there was a guy with us so I think we were safe but we were nuts and I would never do that today and if I had a daughter I would be terrified by this. We just went right up to Canada and hitchhiked right through the country to Montreal and my friend had a brother living in Toronto so we visited him and we went to Calgary but we didn't get to Vancouver. I think we ran out of money . . .
– Joyce Cooling, jazz guitarist

[John and I] slept together as teenagers, top-and-tailed in millions of hitch-hiking places.
– Paul McCartney

I arrived in San Francisco in l952, hitchhiking from Chicago.
– Ruth Weiss, poet

Thirty years ago, I spent a year and a half hitchhiking throughout Africa. In many places, the people I met thought I was African, but not from their country. I was Nubian, I was Yoruba, I was Ibo. No one thought that I was American. Obviously, there was something connecting me to the continent, but not to any particular country. Though I did not set out to trace my roots as many people were doing 30 years ago, I began to focus more and more on my identity. I became aware that I was an African American, not an African.
– Annette Dula, bioethicist

I left home when I was 15 and hitchhiked across the country, and I've been on my own ever since.
– Rosanna Arquette

When I hitchhiked from Buffalo to New York when I was 16 years old, I didn’t bring any food or clothes, I didn’t bring my football trophies or a pair of my girlfriend’s underpants. Instead, I dragged 700 record albums in wooden milk crates. You try hitchhiking with 700 record albums, and then you tell me what bands you love.
– Vincent Gallo

Sometimes I'd stick up a thumb just to hitchhike
Just to get picked up, to get me a lift to
8 Mile and Van Dyke,
– Eminem, “Yellow Brick Road”

I was about 18 years when I started to realise that you have to deal with other people. I bought a tent and a sleeping bag and hitchhiked away.
– Bjork

Failing to pick up someone with his thumb was antisocial. Passing up one in uniform was akin to treason. . . Hitchhiking was easy, orthodox, sometimes exciting. Exciting? On my way back to camp after this very leave a LaSalle limo driven by a middle-aged woman and already occupied by three girls and a private with red artillery braid on his cap stopped to pick me up. The young ladies said the driver was the madam of the place where they worked in Tulsa-- moving them to Dallas where business was brisker. Why didn't I come along?
– Tony Hillerman