Tag Archives: utility van

On The Road #29 – The Way From San Jose

I lit out hitch hiking from Twentynine Palms, California, in the late autumn of 1968. 

Earlier that year Dionne Warwick had released her first Grammy Award winning hit, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.” It was a peppy little ditty opening with a beating drum and a satisfying cascade of “Woe Woe Woe”s. It made me want to check the place out. 

That was the reason three years later I found myself in San Jose while thumbing my way back to Southern California. 

Yes, I remember why I decided to go to San Jose, but I have no idea how I got from Boise to San Jose. It could have been my sister, who was raising a family in Freemont, giving me a ride after her family spent Christmas in Boise. But it seems I would remember some snippet of being crammed in a sedan with those five fine folks for a twelve hour drive.

Having completed what was obviously a completely forgettable journey to the southern edge of San Jose, I continued my quest to avoid freeways and found myself on US 101 headed south. Today I’m sure this, too, is a freeway but in 1971 it was a busy surface street. 

I figured any town with a cool song named after it would be good for getting a ride. And, yes, there were vehicles pulling over rather regularly to pick folks up. What I hadn’t counted on was being just another in a hoard of guys and gals and dogs all with the same idea. 

Well, folks, I’ve always been a rather meek soul, holding back and figuring it will all work out. But once I had seen three or four rides pull over and get swamped with desperate seekers I knew I had to jump into the fray. That or stand there for a week watching an endless line of other people getting rides.

About then a regular full-sized utility van pulled over close to where several of us were standing. The side door slid open and I was positioned to jump into the middle of this lucky batch. I lunged into a space toward the back of the empty cargo hold, figuring that might keep me from being tossed out if the driver and his buddy decided they didn’t want to transport a fully loaded van full of eager riders.

Yea. I had found the way to San Jose. And I was feeling real good about finding a way out.