Part 1, Chapter 4 Notes from On the Road

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On the Road Part 1, Chapter 4

In Gottenburg, Sal gets what he calls "the greatest ride of my life," Part 1, Chapter 4, pg. 24 a flat bed truck that pulls over and picks up every hitchhiker it is about to pass. There are eight others, passing around a bottle of hard liquor. Two of the crew are North Dakota farmers, but some of the others are hoboes and bums like Montana Slim, who says he can get money by mugging people, and Mississippi Gene who is escorting a young blond man to California. Slim is planning to get off at Cheyenne, where Sal is also planning to change routes and begin the ninety-mile journey south to Denver. The pair driving the truck are farm boys from Minnesota, who perform in such a mechanical fashion, that Sal thinks they have done this before. They stop in North Platte to eat. The farm boys "liked everything. They never stopped smiling. I tried to talk to them- a kind of dumb attempt on my part to befriend the captains of our ship- and the only responses I got were two sunny smiles and large white cornfed teeth." Part 1, Chapter 4, pg. 26

The two hoboes stay on the flatbed. The drivers smoke. With some help from the others, Sal buys a fifth of whiskey to share. Sal thinks that North Platte is sad because it is the beginning of the wastelands. The other farm boy drives when they get back on the road and he speeds mercilessly. As they near Colorado, Mississippi Gene turns to him and says that these plains put his mind in Texas. He is escorting the young blond boy west because he got in some trouble in Mississippi. Sal remarks, "although Gene was white there was something of the wise and tired negro in him." Part 1, Chapter 4, pg. 28. He also reminds him of a dope addict friend back home. When Sal tells him that he is planning to get off the truck at Cheyenne, Mississippi Gene advises him to take the ride all the way to California, because rides like this flatbed are rare. Gene's mention of Texas reminds Sal of someone he knew there named Big Slim Hazard; Mississippi Gene knows him as the guy who looks like Jack Dempsey. Gene makes fun of Sal's shoes and they all drink. The blond boy is silent, but Gene talks to him occasionally. Sal likes the hoboes so much, he continues to give them his cigarettes. Montana Slim, however, doesn't give them any.

Montana Slim has to urinate but the farm boys refuse to stop. He tries to stand near the edge of the truck and urinate, but every time he does, the driver swerves. Montana pisses all over himself. They stop in Ogallala for a 'pisscall'. The Dakota farm boys depart here to find harvest work. Sal goes to buy cigarettes and buys a pack each for Mississippi Gene and his boy. They get going again through Wyoming, but it is freezing cold and they huddle together under a tarp. Mississippi Gene begins to sing. Sal thinks he sings prettily. In Cheyenne they stop outside a radio station. The local cowboys are all dressed up outside the station for some reason or another. The farm hands are eager to leave. Sal warns them about the extreme temperatures of the desert, but Gene tells him its all right, and the truck leaves.

Topic Tracking: Beat Generation 2
Topic Tracking: Generosity 3

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