Were boomers really young and irresponsible?

Were we really young and irresponsible back when we were … well … young and irresponsible?  Ask Sandra Staas, who was born and raised in Scotland, and took a trip that can only make her wonder: Would I do it that way again today?

In the sixties a friend and I tried to hitchhike for the day from Glasgow, Scotland to Liverpool, England to see where The Beatles had grown up. We were seventeen and afraid of nothing. We stood with our thumbs up waving merrily at cars and trucks passing by, assured that one would stop and transport us to our destination.

Sandra Staas in the 60s.

Were we nuts? We could have been raped, murdered, had our heads chopped off and disemboweled.

It didn’t even occur to us that hitchhiking was dangerous. We were ready for an adventure, to travel, to see where John Lennon and Paul McCartney had lived and played. I was a John Lennon fan and even wore a hat like his. My friend was more into Paul McCartney, but that didn’t spoil our friendship one bit, not at all.

But, much as we were Beatles fans, we were also practical. After what seemed like hours sticking our thumbs high in the air at drivers who blatantly ignored us, we became a teeny bit discouraged. Dark clouds were forming, but aren’t they always in Scotland? Still, we didn’t fancy the idea of getting soaked, so when a truck driver stopped, we ran like mad up to him.

“Where’re you lassies goin’?”

“Liverpool!”, we sang in unison.

“Och. Well, ye’re out o’ luck. Ahm goin’ tae Newcastle.“

I looked at my friend and she looked at me.   “That’s great! We’ll go to Newcastle!”

Talk about fickle! If John Lennon and Paul McCartney knew how unfaithful we had been… but Newcastle was as good a place as any for an adventure. Wasn’t it?

The driver dropped us off somewhere in Newcastle and bade us farewell. Now what?! We were both dying to pee, so we hid behind a hedge and flooded the place. It was dark, cold, and we had very little money; certainly not enough for a hotel, nor even a bed and breakfast. I think we were nuts!

Sandra Staas

We sat down on the steps of a building and tried to figure out a plan. There was no way we could spend much time there, not with the rain and the wind blowing. It hadn’t occurred to us that it’d be dark by the time we got to Newcastle. Nor had we given it a thought about how we’d ever get back to Glasgow. All that we really knew was that we wanted a happening, an adventure. We got up and trudged along the road for a bit as I tried to keep warm in my black slicker.  Shortly, we came across a hospital.

“I know, let’s go inside. Maybe we can get a hot tea from one of the machines.”

I don’t remember whose idea it was to enter the hospital, but it was a welcome thought to get out of the cold. So in we went. Got ourselves some hot tea.

A nurse asked if we were hurt. We assured her we were fine, but that we had nowhere to go. She ushered us into a room where there were two beds and said we could lie down there as long as they didn’t have patients who needed the room.

Luxury! I hopped onto one bed and my friend dove onto the other. We started giggling and laughing so much that the beds started to move. We discovered that they were actually gurneys, with wheels, as we bobbed about the room. Every time we let out this huge guffaw we’d slide across the room.

I’ve never forgotten that adventure. Nor how lucky we were that nothing bad happened to us. How irresponsible to hitchhike, to set off on a trip with no real plan, no concept of how long it would take to get there. And what’s even more ridiculous is that we hadn’t even considered how we’d get back home.

The older I’ve become I always make sure I have accommodation booked before I set out on any trip. I know exactly how I’m going to travel, and how I’m going to get back home. I make sure I have access to extra cash , just to be on the safe side. For who knows what adventures lie right around the corner? Just because I’m 61 now doesn’t mean that the sense of adventure has taken a back seat. Not at all. It’s always there, just like when I was seventeen.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your “Beatles adventure” story, Sandra. It reminded me so much of my 3-month European tour in the summer of 1965. I was 18 and met up with my childhood friend who was living outside of Paris at the time. We toured the continent using our Eurorail passes, went to Greece and England, staying in pensiones and youth hostels while accepting rides from strangers without any fear of potential danger. Was the world a safer place then or did our youthful trust protect us from harm? I don’t know. I do know I treasure those memories and don’t regret taking those risks in the name of adventure.

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