CHICO...MY NEW FRIEND
I want to introduce you to a very interesting man, Stanley..."CHICO" to his friends...
I was walking near the Wyoming border with Idaho, when came another walker towards me. I crossed US 30 to his side. As we closed the gap a grinning sunburned face beamed at me.
Hi, I'm Bruce...Bruce Maynard.
Hi, Bruce; I'm Stanley..."CHICO" to my friends. Where ta go'n?
Ur kidd'n...really walk'n to Key West?
Yep, 'n how 'bout you?
Don't really know...maybe up to Pockie for starters (Pockie = Pocatello)
What's in Pockie?
Hopefully a train...Police kicked me off the last one a couple days ago...someone saw me in a box car & called the Police.
Really; what did the Police do?
Well, they never actually came at all. All's I know the train stopped. Someone...the Brakeman, I
think, was going down the line call'n out..."We know ur in there...better come out...Police are on the way. We ain't mov'n this train til ur off...better come on out a'fore the Police get here."
So, I slid back the door of my car & jumped down.
"I'm really sorry, Mack, but you know how the Law is with riders anymore. If you just want to walk away, we'll get 'er roll'n again."
So,I swung my pack on as the brakeman signaled the engine. I watched as my ride pulled away .
How long you been riding the rails?
Let's see...got back from Vietnam in "73...'cept for a few months making things right with the Wife & Kids...let's see...'bout 30 years or so.
Really against the law to hitch a freight?...as a kid my Brother, Jim & I used to visit the Hobo camp under the trestle a half mile or so from the house. They were just plain people down on their luck...try'n to make it through...never heard they did something wrong...and you say it's not legal anymore.
Nope. Not many of us out there anymore, but I move around on trains. Got no money. The Government sends me a little each month for my service, bit it don't go far.
Where do you camp? What do you eat?
Put my roll down wherever I can find a spot. Don't eat much. 'Cept on weekends, a Church sometimes comes up with something...but not on weekends. Usually, I just look around..I usually find something...never much, but it keeps me going.
So, where you headed now?
Back to New York, I think...Been Getting some warning signs that a couple things arn't going right inside.
You from New York?
Born in Harlem. Daddy moved us out to Amityville on Long Island to get us away from the filth & crime back after the war (meaning WWII). Then Daddy died, Mom sold the house & us kids had to leave. I'm 60 now & I gotta get back to New York. I don't want to die out here. I want to be buried along side my Daddy.
That where you heading now?
No, going to Portland first to see my Wife, say g'bye...then go home to New York to be with Daddy. Hope I can hop a freight in Pokie.
Well, don't give up just yet...lots of things can happen to help you out.
Well, maybe so..I'll be going...hope you have a safe walk to Key West.
Chico and I walked on our separate journeys...Chico to Pockie & I to Cokeville.
I stopped in to tell Seth and Angie that I was going to hitch a ride 20 miles or so towards Border, (a single FIREWORKS building sitting on the Idaho / Wyoming border). Then, I went to Blondie's Cafe & ordered two eggs over medium, home fries, toast & coffee. First meal I had in two days. Got to thinking about Chico, wondering how many days since his tummy saw a real meal
I ordered a second breakfast TO GO, but had the eggs scrambled.
I drove out US 30 towards Pokie. Found Chico still in Wyoming, but not by much. I made a U-Turn & stopped in front of him on the berm, got out, Take-Out in hand.
Chico went a bit crazy...Shook my hand & gave me the most sincere hug I received in some years.
We made small talk as he ate.
Chico did most of the talking.