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Blueberry, Raspberry, and Blackberry Days – Now and Long Ago

Hello All,

Well this is some interesting weather!  It has been as dry as the weather out in the “Inland Empire” of my memories of 1970.  I had dropped out of Mount Union College, due a family medical emergency.  My step-father, my mother, and my sister had been seriously injured in a car crash.  I had to return to Ambridge (a town that I had been trying to get away from for years).  I got a year’s hardship draft deferment, and worked in the mills while mother and sister recovered.  The step-father never really recovered.  I worked a night shift job at American Bridge Company for a year until the situation stabilized.  I gratefully quit the mill and bought an old VW Beetle.  I decided that I better go check out Canada, just in case my draft number came up.

I first drove up to Maine, and really enjoyed Bar Harbor.  Then I headed up into the Canadian Maritimes, and really enjoyed them, but decided to head West to see  more of the Pacific Northwest.  Of course, I was too young to check the oil often enough, and the engine blew in the middle of the TransCanada Highway.  I sold it and all my tools, and took off hitch hiking.  I cut back down to Pullman, Washington, where I had spent my Junior year of college, and had dropped out in disgust over the Kent State Massacre.  When I got down to Pullman and nearby Moscow, Idaho, I hung out for a while.  But an old friend, “Bobo” had moved to Bellingham’s Aldous Huxley Institute, so I decided to head there, via Spokane where other old hipster pals were.

Everything went well until I was heading North along the interstate, even though I knew hitching rides was illegal in that state.   I was standing at an entrance ramp, and a State Policeman stopped me and told me to get in the car.  He took me to the county seat, where a judge offered me a three day sentence in the county jail.  Whew!  That went pretty well,  most of  my fellow inmates were in our drug charges, but I was sweating the hearing.  Three days in jail was quite an experience.  The only reading material permitted was Western and SciFi.  Well, I did read some great Vonnegut and Bradbury.  When I got into the police van to take me to the court house, I had the feeling the officers seemed to be laughing a lot.

The judge asked me if I had been breaking the hitching law, and I said yes.  He then fined me ten dollars, and suspended it for ‘time served’.  Then he really blew my mind.  He directed my arresting officer to take me to the entrance ramp where he was to discharge me so that I could continue my journey.  Little did I know that the law had been changed while I was in jail.  Mind Blowing!!  But I was on my way to Bellingham Washington, where I became a migrant berry picker.  But that was another story = stay tuned!

Thom Dunn Marti

PS:  My berry picking lead me to become a berry grower; but now I have to stop and go pick this morning’s crop of red and blackberries while my co-conspirator and wife pick the blueberries……


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