WORKING FOR WAGES by Peter Browning

WORKING FOR WAGES

On the Road in the Fifties
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A memoir of driving new cars and trucks from Detroit for delivery in Los Angeles over a nine-year span, 1949-58.

Born in 1928, Browning grew up in a middle-class Ohio family but found college unappealing and found little to love in the U.S. Navy. A newspaper advertisement caught his attention: "Cars delivered, drivers wanted." He showed up at the Detroit address, and immediately began working for the owner of the driveaway business, identified only as the Old Man. Browning normally found himself driving in a convoy, allowing him to become acquainted with other restless men. Their route from Detroit to Los Angeles before the completion of the interstate highway system took them mostly through small-town America. Some of the men signed up for round trips; others asked for one-way journeys only. The drivers usually punctuated their overnight stays in cheap motels with eating, drinking, shooting pool and seeking sex, finding willing women from time to time. The narrative and the dialogue are often raunchy; Browning certainly doesn't sugarcoat the raucousness or rootlessness of the life. "On paper, it looked as if no one would ever take a job like that," Browning says. "In practice, there were a dozen applicants for every position. For the wanderers and ne'er-do-wells the job was made to order: the first deal they had ever run across that actually paid them for indulging their natural bent--flitting back and forth across the country, just knocking around."

A well-written, matter-of-fact account about a vanished hand-to-mouth occupation.

Pub Date: March 20th, 2003
ISBN: 0-944220-15-0
Program: Kirkus Indie
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