by Gloria Lily
The beginnings of my autobiography. My way through the looking glass.
| The rain and wind splashed our faces as we began our morning.
I was nine years old hanging on to my sisters hand who was 15.
Together we decided to make the journey from New York to California with our mothers approval. It was late in 1969.
To us the idea of hitchhiking was just natural. Our mother drove us to the other side of the George Washington bridge hugged us, gave us the approval paper signed by her and her lawyer and sent us on our way.
I was feeling quite adult like carrying my own back pack which was almost taller then myself.
My sister took a deep breath,exhaled and reminded me of my promise to behave the whole time. I smiled sweetly and thanked her for taking me on this journey with her and our adventure began.~0~
Not long after Mom left a man in a station wagon pulled over and rolled down his window. I eyed him suspiciously and also looked in the back seat while my sister (I will call her Donna)spoke to the gentleman.
She told him we were headed to California and needed a ride. The gentleman was only going 50 miles down the road and would be more then happy to give us a ride.
It seemed for the first 100 miles we got allot of 5 and 10 mile rides which we could ill afford to turn down.
I admit it took some of the thrill out of being on the road and our adventure.
When Mom dropped us off it was mid morning and we were hopeful to get a ride that might take us through the night.
Unfortunately it became dark and we found ourselves cold and alone on a part of the highway that seemed almost deserted.
We were on highway 80 going west which is a straight shot to California.
I should also mention that we had a 21 year old women along with us by the name of Robin who had had many shock treatments ordered by her parents. The treatments were thought of as a cure for mental health back in those days.
So legally she was an adult which is why Mom let us go but mentally the only adult was my sister.
I as a 9 year old counted as the next adult as far as I was concerned but no one asked me.
Robin would drift in and out of reality as easily as you or I blink. So as you might understand I did not percieve her as an adult but a hinderance we had to keep an eye on.
Ok it was getting very cold and even darker so we decided to sleep down hill a little ways so as not to be spotted by the police.
We did not realize how close we were to the New York toll booth. If we had known we would have tried to find a place to camp sooner and begin again in the morning.
It is better to hitch in the day time when there is allot of cars are on the road and they can see you. We went about trying to find a spot to rest. Suddenly we heard a whoop whoop like the kind you hear when you have been caught speeding down the road.
We looked gingerly behind us and saw the dread black and white car with Pennsylvania police written on the side.
The police men got out and walked slowly up to us. To me it was like watching a movie in slow motion that makes your anticaption rise.
My sister took the lead and told Robin to not say a word. I grabbed her hand and held on as if they were coming to take us separate us. Hello there one officer said. "What are you three doing here?" "You know it is illegal to hitch hike on the highway don't you?"
My sister showed them the letter from moms lawyer and said boldly. "We are going to California".
One officer bent down and looked at me. "Who are you little girl"? he asked as he tousled my hair.
(I should stop here and say. we are half sisters. We have different fathers. Hers is white as is our mother. My father is black.)
I straighten up and looked the police man right in the eyes and said I am her sister and Mom said it was Ok!
He eyed my with a bit of suspicision and some amusement.
Both of the officers turned to Robin and asked her the same thing.
She told them her name and said she was 21 and had agreed to look after us for our mother.
These police men were completely stumped.
Well they wanted to know if we knew how to go there and what did our fathers think. Donna showed them the map we were using and the route we decided to take and said "our fathers are not in our lives so it doesnt matter what they think".