The Hop Yard Hobo - Part 2
Continued from Part 1, written by my late father (1900-1977)
From San Francisco I hitch-hiked to Los Angeles. Luckily I made the trip in two days on Highway 101. I found everything normal after the disastrous quake. I found, also, that there was no chance for an outsider to get work. I never saw much of the damage done by the quake, since the curious were prevented from going into the damaged area.
I stayed only overnight in Los Angeles and left the next morning on Highway 99, hitch-hiking to Oregon. I had an invitation from a friend of mine south of Roseburg to come up and live the life of Riley with him on his Cow Creek Ranch. I made fair time. I picked up some money by helping truck drivers load and unload. Part of the time I drove for some tourists who were worn out with too many hours at the wheel. That seemed funny to me, after having seen so many thousands out of work. It was true, nevertheless. My being a registered California chauffeur perhaps accounted for some of my lucky rides. I arrived at Azalea, Oregon, in about seven days -- on the nineteenth of March, to be exact. Here I learned that my friend, W.I. Schultz, (I call him Billy) lived twenty-two miles up Cow Creek. With no chance of a ride on Sunday, I walked all of the way. When I arrived, Billy was doing the chores on his timber, stock, and hay ranch.
Mr. Schultz was happy to see me. He was expecting me, since I had written him I was on the way. Billy and I had become good friends while working on a construction job in Bradley, California, five years before. Billy had been a boomer like myself, except that he was an efficient steam shovel and drudge engineer. He had spent some time working as a rigging boss, a labor foreman, and superintendent of oilfield rig construction. But he had tired of the drifting life and had bought this isolated ranch, where he lives on the fat of the land. This living consists of what he raises, plus grouse, deer, and fish in season.
Billy's 33 acres of cleared land produces anything that grows in the wonderful climate of Western Oregon. It raises succulent vegetables, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, raspberries, strawberries, loganberries, apples and pears. Add do this chickens, bees, and cows. The only thing lacking for perfect existence was a wife and some kiddies. But, Billy says he has embarked on the stormy sea of matrimony four times and every time the ship was wrecked. The next time, he says, the woman would have to own the ship and be a good pilot.
I stayed with Billy until the last of April. We surely lived the life of Riley. I helped with the chores, mostly milking. He had a small herd of ten or twelve cows, eight of which he was milking. We put in our time building fences, cutting a good supply of wood, splitting a few shakes, cutting posts and erecting a hay barn of long, straight fir poles. Billy is a good cook and we enjoyed sourdough flapjacks done to a delicate brown, plenty of eggs from his dozen hens, various kinds of fruit with cream, and oh Boy!, the finest of canned venison. A living fit for a king, eh, what?
Billy was a man of about forty-five years. He was a great reader and had travelled over all of the United States, Canada, India, and South America. We talked politics, religion, business, marriage, and what not. We recounted our old experiences as well as the New Deal of the President. Time flowed so serenely that one soon forgot the crime, the misery and the starvation existing in the crowded places of mankind.
By the twenty-fifth of April the time had come to tell Billy goodbye.