Back in the day of homemade outlaws, one of the most interesting was J.R. Wunderle, formerly of St.Louis, a biker in a three-member, all “Indian” club and a perfect caricature of the Missourian, from Melville’s “The Confidence Man.” He dodged the draft by slipping off to San Francisco in the era of the flower children and took on a new character: “Col. Jepethiah Fangwort and his Magical Oils and Essences” selling tiny vial of fragrances at the rock ballrooms and festivals of the time.
After many adventures, “JR” arrived on the Comstock where he quickly became a habitue of the many saloons in Virginia City and an all star morning bartender at Silver City’s infamous Golden Gate Bar. Unfortunately, age and an all-day drinking habit took their toll, and one night in Gold Canyon he drove off into the sagebrush and couldn’t get out. At the ensuing court appearance the judge told him he had to either quit drinking or driving, one or the other.
Following a moment of deep thought “JR,” reached into his pocket, took out his license and registration and handed them to the clerk. To my knowledge he never drove again, living in walking distance of the downtown Dayton saloons and cashing in his Budweiser stock dividends every month.
With this glowing example in mind, I considered the options of trying to cheat and drive or becoming a neighborhood old geezer shaking my cane at the kids in the back alley and mumbling vague maledictions against government. The choice was obvious.
Actually, my son, my lawyer, my ex-wife and several girlfriends all agree that my driving sucks. Once, in another century, I was a pretty fair driver. I drove high-speed tire tests from Carson City to Fallon and made two-day runs between ’Frisco and Denver trading Indian jewelry. I drove to Guadalajara three times in a Cadillac-powered Inter-national pickup that Neal Cassidy claimed was the best vehicle he ever stole. But that was then and this is now, in a state that considers marijuana a driving impairment despite no scientific standards to measure inebriation. (California is currently researching this issue with an eye to possible legalization).
So I am going to break a habit of my whole lifetime. From teen hot rods to cross-country road sagas, film caravans and tours of California’s wine and weed country, I have spent time and money in homage to the goddess of grease and gas. No more!
I am a recovering driver, struggling, one day at a time to break a terrible addiction.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.