The Secret Lives of Diaries

On The Road

Posted in Memories by secretlives on April 17, 2006


I remember a time when hitch hiking was safe and popular.  I did a lot of it in the sixties and early seventies.  And here is an experience which brought me to a hostel in Kamploops, British Columbia (BC), Canada where I spent several days.  I was 21 years old, and lost.

October 15, 1971

I have hitch hiked from Penticton [BC] to Kamloops [BC] in order that I may find a job.  Kamloops is a booming city, but jobs are hard to find.  I am not the only one who is in need of a job, for I am sleeping in a hostel which is packed with people searching for a job.  Most of them are from the east [Canada].

Most of the places I went to for a job told me that I had too much education.  Rather absurd I think.

They, the country, will never need the amount of people who have graduated from university.  We, those who have degrees, are a rejected lot.  We can't even get jobs which we intensely dislike.

October 16, 1971 

I have seen and read the stories of many people.  They all seem so sad.  I have met drunks, thieves, prostitutes, the lonely, the hypocrites, the bigots, the insane, the hustlers, the executives, the priests, the religious fanactics, the businessmen, the etc. and their story is all the same.  I see them all in me.

October 17, 1971

The peripatetics in this hostel are always on the verge of fighting.  Yesterday, in a period of three hours, I saw four fights.  Most of them have either ascended or descended beyond despair; a lot of them have lost their sense of dignity.

They are dirty, sick, homeless, broke, nervous, without purpose, loveless, mean and alone.  They cough, spit, wheeze, whine, vomit and crawl with lice and bed bugs.  What an ungainly lot.  Most of the time many of them are drunk.  But they have one thing that they seem to share – the sense that they are all the same.

If you have something, they want a part of it too.

October 21, 1971

Since I've not been able to find a job, I've decided to hitch hike out of Kamloops for Prince George [500 miles to the north].  I am going to help my parents prepare for the opening of their store.

When I look back on these entries I wonder…what on earth was I trying to prove: staying in a Salvation Army hostel for a week.  Oh yes…now I know.  It was all about proving my sense of independence; that I could do it on my own.  From the vantage of my fifty-sixth year I look back tenderly on that young boy.

Name: Giovanni
Age: 56


Thumbing It

Posted in Characters,Memories by secretlives on March 21, 2006

Hitch Hiker.jpg

It is September 14, 1973.  I’m living in Victoria, British Columbia. I attend the University of Victoria and am studying to be a high school teacher; I’m 22 years old.  As I walk down Douglas Street I see a fellow holding out a sign on 8.5″X11″ paper, to all the passersby.  Finding this odd, I look at it and this is what I later write (I can remember the fellow clearly now as if it were yesterday).


September 14, 1973

This afternoon I met a straw-hatted fellow on Douglas Street who held up a sheet of paper for all to see.  When I saw him there, smiling beneath his broad hat, I felt curious; I went up to him and read a poem he had written.  It was called “Thumb”, and beside the poem he had drawn a sketch of a large thumb protruding from a hand in hitch-hike posture.  The poem went like so…

One by one
they pass me by

Yet none
escape my eye

Even backseat imps
are frightened by my glimpse

And none
not even alcoholics
escape the frolics
of my pollex

They’ll get their due
it’s true

For I know how it feels
to travel on wheels

They’re all selfish
like I used to be
when I had a car

                                   Author: Howard Halpern

When I finished reading the poem he gave me a copy of it, and we began talking about poetry and yoga.  Fifteen minutes later I shook his hand, and we made it a point to say hello to each other in our next lives.

The reason Howard held up his poem was so he could have it read by a varied cross section of the people.  he could not get his poem published, so this was the next best thing.  He also got to meet a lot of people. (end of entry)


When I think back on this entry I remember his broad, straw sun-hat beneath which much of his head was concealed.  And so – I don’t know what possessed me – I boldly asked him to raise it so that I could see what he looked like beneath it.  He had a magnificently rounded bald head – a veritable cue ball.

Is he alive?  Does he still write?  Is his baldness now, no longer a choice?  I wonder if he remembers that bold young man who asked him to lift his hat?  I wonder.

Name: Giovanni
Age: 56

Picasso Has Died

Posted in Memories by secretlives on March 20, 2006


I was looking through one of my diaries from 1973.  In April, Picasso had died.  And here’s what I said: ‘Pablo Picasso died.  This is a heavy sign of the times.’  Now, what on earth did I mean by that?  Somehow I thought it was profound.  Does anyone else remember those days when everything was ‘heavy and far out’?  I confess that I also remember the term ‘groovy’.

Name: Giovanni
Age: 56