In this memoir, Geller describes a cross-country trek he took half a century ago and the memorable characters he met along the way.
Like a bottle of fine wine, the author’s account of hitchhiking from Maine to Alaska has improved with age. He originally wrote it as a series of letters to his parents in 1962, with the sole intent of letting them in on his adventure. Fifty years later, Geller’s brother stumbled upon the letters, and the author rushed the collection into print with nothing more than his own light editing for grammar and clarity. A bit more red pencil might have done wonders, but what Geller lacks in style, he makes up with his endearing, optimistic attitude. Much of this book’s charm comes from the author’s matter-of-fact descriptions of a time that seems innocent in retrospect, even downright quaint. After all, who would dream of hitchhiking across the country today? Yet back then, over thousands of miles, Geller rarely had trouble finding people willing to offer a ride. Many shared their food, too, and even their homes. The drivers included priests, police officers and septuagenarians, and the only apparent threat came from a couple of drivers who liked to take an occasional nip of alcohol. In fact, Geller’s biggest concern throughout the trip seemed to be keeping his average spending down to $3 a day; his complaint about paying $3.50 for a motel room seems comical today, as does his excitement over finding an ice-cream shop selling five-cent cones. Readers may find Geller’s aim to try a “Mexican delight known as a Taco” strange today, but in 1962, Taco Bell had yet to hit Maine; to Geller, the everyday taco was as familiar as an alligator tail. Many readers will be tempted to grab an RC Cola, turn on the hi-fi and hitch a long, leisurely ride back to a simpler, slower time.
An unpolished but pleasantly nostalgic memoir.