Archive for June, 2011

John Hairston Visits with Travis Baker

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Sixty Year Journey

Friday, June 10th, 2011



     One October evening, just as the sun went down behind Post Mountain, Eugene Pirtle, a buddy of mine, came by Zimmerman and Sawyers Feed store, where I worked, and made a rash suggestion.  “Lets go to my home in north Texas and spend a few days. I will show you around where I grew up.”  “How?” I asked.  “We don’t have a car and it must be hundreds of miles to your home.”  Eugene explained that it would not be a problem.  We would hitchhike home.

          Being young, adventurous and almost handsome I consented to the outlandish adventure.  Dark found us standing on Highway 281 thumbing each car and truck that came by.  Soon, Master Sergeant Phil Sands, from Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, stopped and invited us to join him.  “I am going to see my mother in Ft. Worth.  I need some one to keep me awake during the three hour drive.”  We soon realized Phil drove wide open from one beer joint to the next one.  But we got to Ft. Worth in record time.

       Eugene was pleased.  He said we were just a few miles from his home.  And it was just midnight.  The next fifty miles only took three hours to get close enough to his home for us to walk the last five miles.  Eugene’s mother rousted two of his sisters, Willine and Alice, two pigtailed little girls, from their bed so we could sleep comfortably.

      That hitchhiking trip changed my life forever, and for the better.  The little pigtailed girl, Alice, grew up, cut her hair, moved to my hometown, and agreed to go to the movies with me.  Life and love flowered and soon prompted a proposal of marriage from me.  However Uncle Sam made a proposal that I had to accept first.  The flow of letters from Ft. Bliss to home and back used up a forest of paper and a river of ink, but kept the fires of love burning brightly.

       We were married and have had a grand march through time with plenty of highs and a few lows.  Childhood illnesses kept the lights on till the wee hours a few times.  Tough work decisions made days drag by with no visible end.  But the bright times came in abundance.  The children’s successes at school, and life gave us much joy.  Alice’s hard work as an ambassador to the world has been rewarding.  The business has made it through the highs and lows of our nations economy, and continues to do well.  Seven grand children and one great grandchild warm our hearts daily.

       The matrimonial knot was well tied.  This week, we will have been married 60 years.  That is not a record, but it sure beats the average.

        What have I learned from this trip down life’s road?  One; hitchhiking can bring joy, happiness, and fortune.  Two; listen carefully to Alice, she knows the way.


Hollis Baker   5 June 2011