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March 25, 1956 - Image 11

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SundcV. March. 25. 1956

Sunday, .!March 25, 1956


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Sunday, March 25, 1956 THE MICHIGAN DAILY


Art of Aimless Hitch-hiking



George Humphrey: Dor
Of te ReewedPartne)
Between Government &

Fate Is Best Courted by Sitting Back on Your Suitcase

And Waiting for the Gods To Take Over

THERE ARE many kinds of
hitch-hiking. Perhaps most
familiar around here is the "I
gotta get home this weekend but
I'm flat broke," variety. Devotees
of this form are to be seen on
Friday afternoons lined up on
Washtenaw across from the Mu-
Another form is the "Next sum-
mer I'm going to hitch-hike to
Seattl- and look up my old girl
friend" sort. This is obviously
merely an extension of the first
sort since in both these cases you
hitch-hike because it is cheap and
because you want to get some-
where in particular.
One more type is the "I think
I'll hitch-hike around the coun-
try" kind. For many penniless
young Americans this has become
a sort of an equivalent to the
affluent young Englishman's con-
tinental grand tour.
Finally there is a form of tour-
ing hitch-hiking that has almost
disappeared in this well-ordered
and prosperous era where everyone
knows exactly where he is going
and a new GM t Ford car is'
Issued at puberty. This form is
aimless hitch-hiking,
Attractive& &
THE DEVOTEE of aimless hitch-
hiking says "I don't know where
I want to go. I want to find out
where I deserve to be." This form
of hitch-hiking'had its Golden Age
in the years between World War
II and the Korean War.
To the average American driver
it was both fascinating and an
extreme annoyance. To drivers
there was something both attrac-
tive and immoral in aimlessness.
In aimless hitch-hiking you
put your thumb out and wait. You
want to find out where you land
if you refrain from making con-1
scioi' decisions about your goal.
You try to find out where yourt
sub-conscious decides you should
be. You might think that aimless-
ness would take you nowhere ore
if you did end up somewhere theree
would be no significance to it, butt
this does not seem to be the case.{
One fellow, ┬░or instance, always<
found himself on the same street
in Toronto regardless when ort
where he started. But to get sucht
consistent results one has to care-E
fully avoid making any overt actst
of volition. .
The whole idea of the thing is tot
avoid committing oneself. One isi
not even very vigorous in the put-
ting out of the thumb. Some per-
sons have erected the thumb ges-
ture into a sort of violent, semi-
obscene gesture toward fate. But
this violence presupposes that if
one does not know where he is
going at least he knows where he'
wants the driver to go. Aimlessk

hitchhiking is not this well-direct-
ed. There is an element of lassi-
tude in the signal to the oncoming
lines of traffic. The gesture of
the aimless hitch-hiker is less a
violent jerk of the thumb than
an almost imperceptible shrug of
the shoulders. But the perfectionist
in aimless hitch-hiking will avoid
even this. Fate is best courted by
sitting back on your suitcase and
waiting for the gods to take over.
Shirt-sleeve Ruse
THE RULES, however, allow one
to use hand gestures as long as
they are badly timed. They are
vaguely suggestive of hitch-hiking
rather than assertive or pleading.
The wrist action is definitely
though not deliberately mistimed.
It comes a bit too, early and fades
away before the driver can clearly
determine whether or not you are
signalling cars or are merely 'ad-
justing your shirt in your coat
Or the gesture can come a bit
too late so that it bewilders the
driver at the final moment when
he cannot be sure he saw anything
at all. This is probably the best
way for by the time he realizes
that you did signal for a ride he is
far down the road and would not
be able to stop anyway. This solves
the problem for driver and hitch-
hiker before it even gets started.
IT IS obvious though, even with
this care in thumbing, that sooner
or later one will be offered a ride.
Often this occurs because the bad
timing to one car turns out to
have been magnificent timing on
another. Before you can fade back
there is a squeal of tires, a car1
door opens and some damnably
cheery voice (usually that of a
positive thinker or other sales-
man) is saying "Hop in. We're go-
ing to Mudbank."
This is a real challenge tQ aim-;
lessness; you've been offered a ride'
which implies a direction. Since;
there is no one else in the car the'
"We" implies that you and the]
driver are. already steadfast trav-
eling companions willing to share'
every confidence. One of the rules
of aimless hitch-hiking is never
confide to the driver where you
came from or where you are going.-
An additional challenge lies in
the driver's naming of his destina-
tion. This poses the problem of<
goals right from the beginning.1
Usually talk of destination can be1
postponed until the driver is ready<
to burst with curiousity. The ideal
is to get him to burst.
Greyhound Bus
BUT IBEFORE you get in you4
have one more legitimate ruse.
You can pretend that you do nota
know that you have been offered1

a ride. You are by the rules obli-
gated to accept it but you can hesi-
tate for a moment as if you didn't
quite understand what the driver
It is convenient to have a suit-
case at your side to not pick up.
Just look up the road for a moment
as if you expected a chartered
Greyhound to come booming up.
Wait three seconds before pick-
ing your suitcase up. Then comes
the crucial moment. If he acts
quickly enough he can leave you
there and you can stand and
cooly watch him take off down the
You can wait until he finally
commits himself to leaving with-
out you and then pick up your
suitcase. It is my opinion that
technique makes sport of what is
basically a very serious investi-
gation. Such foolishness can lead
to no good. If the driver still waits
for you, this is it; get in.
.Driver's Ruse
IT IS the aimless hitch-hiker's
attitude during the drive that
hc given this form of hitch-hik-
ing such a bad name. Sooner or
later the driver is going to ask
how far you are going and where
you are going and it is the duty
of the true aimless hitch-hiker to
give no answer to these questions;
or if to answer, then to do it in a
manner that provides no infor-
People have got to know the
answer or they will go nuts. There
is only one in fifty who will not
become decidedly annoyed if he
can not quickly get an answer to
what seems to him to be a simple
If he asks where you are going,
you say "toward town." He will
say, "Phoney Gulch?" You say
"No." After a few moments" of
silence he will try another tack.
"I'm going as far as Indian Belch,"
he will say. You say nothing.
(If violence seems imminent say,
All this seems to eliminate the
possibility of terminating the ride.
But you will find that when the
driver finally wants to get rid of
you he will stop the car and say,
"Well, this is it" or "I turn here,"
or "This is the end of the line,
buddy" or "Get out." It is obvious
that we have'here a rough indi-
cator of the irritation that you
have generated in the driver.
NOW and then drivers become
so irritated at the non-com-
mital attitude of aimless hitch-
hikers that they adopt ruses to rid
themselves of their guests. About
4 o'clock one afternoon a few
years ago on U. S. 6 a driver began
feigning extreme sleepiness. Ap-:

eral times
tention of
night but

and announced his In-
getting a room for the
promised to keep an

eye out for the hitch-hiker the
next day. If he saw him he would
pick him up again, he said.
They parted, the driver into a
hotel lobby, and the aimless
hitch-hiker across the street and
into a park where he sat down
on a bench and began to watch
pigeons. A few minutes later he
saw the driver peer out of the
hotel, look carefully in both direc-
tions, make a dash for his car and
creep slowly out of town down a
side street.
This driver's ruse is suitable for
the moderately populated sections
of the United States but in the
desert states the hotel trick is less
feasible. A certain driver on one
of the desolate stretches of U. S.
66 solved the problem of his un-
desirable aimless hitch-hiker by
stopping at a lonely gas station
and lunch stand, giving the hitch-
hiker a quarter and telling him to
go in and order the coffee while
he had some gas put in the car.
As soon as the hitch-hiker stepped
inside, the driver tossed the hitch-
hiker's bag out on the ground and
took off down the highway.
The Needles
IT WOULD seem evident from
this that the aimless hitch-hiker
would get fewer rides than his
more goal-conscious companions
and that once getting a ride he
would have great trouble holding
on to it.
One must remember, however,
that mere motion is not the object
of the aimless hitch-hiker. He
figures that if he is to be ignored
there is a reason. And if he is
kicked out there is a reason, and
that if he is to be picked up he
will be picked up regardless of what
the chances seem to be.-
One time in Needles, California,

a hitch-hiker's graveyard just In-
side the state line -from Arizona
(and also the spot where the Joads
lost Noah, the first born), there
were twelve earnes. hitch-hikers
already lined up facing east when
an aimless hitch-hiker showed up.
He teok the place reserved for
newcomers at the far end of the
line, sat down on his suitcase and
waited. He didn't even bother to
get up when cars came by. The
others, of course, waved desper-
ately. They all wanted to get to
Phoenix by nightfall.
Once an hour a State Police car
came along and drove slowly past
the column of waiting men. There
was an auto air-conditioner on the
police car. The temperature by
the side of the road was 111 de-
IM~E FIRST time by, the police
officer who glanced along the
row of men seemed a bit puzzled
that the aimless hitch-hiker did
not get up and put out his thumb
when cars came by.
At the next hour, still seeing no
response from the aimless hitch.
hiker, the police car stopped, the
officer rolled down his window
and let the hot desert air roll in
just to tell him that there was a
vagrancy law in Needles and that
the local constable would come by
at sundown and make everyone get
hotel rooms or go to jail. The
hitch-hiker thanked him for this
information but continued to ig-
nore the passing traffic.
An hour later the police car
came by again. This time the cop
stopped and told the aimless hitch-
hiker to get in. The other twelve
stood there and watched. The cop
took the hitch-hiker down to the
fork in the road at the state line
and bid him good-by.
The first car that came along
took the hitch-hiker to Phoenix,
which was of course where he de-
served to go. He had gotten there
without lifting a finger. The
others are probably still in Cali-

N CABINET meetings," says
President Dwight D. Eisenhow-
er, "I always wait for George
Humphrey to speak. I sit back
and listen to the others talk while
he doesn't say anything. But I
know that when he speaks up he
will say just what I am thinking
When George talks, we all
In the three years since-he be-
came Secretary of the Treasury,
George M. Humphrey has emerged
as the most powerful man in the
President's Cabinet.
In the recent critical months of
the President's illness and disabil-
ity, George Humphrey has been
doing a lot of talking. His advice,
ideas, and policies have carried
much weight. He has become the
vital, moving force behind the
present Republican Administra-
"The way people get that idea
about me," he says, "is that there
isn't a great deal you can do in
government without money, and
wherever there's money, that's my
His "business" has carried him
into many different areas of the
Federal Government. He has made
his influence felt in such fields as'
foreign affairs, national defense,
labor relations, and a host of oth-
er far-flung governmental activi-
ties. He is referred to by many
Washington observers as t h e
"strong man" of the U.S. Cabinet.
THE ROLE of "strong man" is
not a new one for George
Humphrey. There have been few
times in his life when he has not
bees a strong man, few ventures
he has been associated with in
which he has not taken the domi-
nant position, the leading role.
His whole life has been one of
constant striving-a struggle to
achieve, to accomplish, to build.
George Magoffin Humphrey was
born in Cheboygan, Michigan, on
March 8, 1890. He grew up in
nearby Saginaw, where his father
was a leading citizen and prosper-
ous lawyer. At Saginaw High
School he played on the state high
school championship football team
and was president of his class
two years in a row.
In 1908 he entered the Univer-
sity of Michigan to study engi-
neering. He soon switched to law,
made good grades, and graduated
with honors in 1912.
After graduation he married
his childhood sweetheart, Pamela
Stark, entered his father's law
firm, and settled down to six years
of a healthy, respectable, and luc-
rative law practice. But somehow,
the legal profession did not satisfy
16 Years
After Hanna
WHEN in 1918 he was offered a
position with the M. A. Hanna
Company of Cleveland, Ohio, he.
felt that here was the chance
to begin the kind of life he wanted
to lead. In the 1890's the M. A.
Hanna Co. had been a, rich and
powerful outfit, the treasurehouse
of the illustrious Mark A. Hanna,
then Senator from Ohio, political'
boss of the Republican Party, and
virtual owner of President William'
But by 1918, 16 years after Han-
na's death, the company had de-
generated into a veritable hodge-
podge of financial and industrial
odds and ends, struggling along
under the hectic mismanagement
of four partners, and losing two
million dollars a year.
This Is Phil Breen's second1
major contribution to the mag-
aine section. Hls article on1
Richard Nixon appeared in theI
January issue.

Humphrey joined the firm as as-
sistant general counsel. It was a
nice comfortable job and one which
ordinarily wouldn't call for too
much imagination. But George
Humphrey was not one to "set"
for very long.
Under his urging, M. A. Han-
na Co. undertook a vast and
sweeping re-organization, dump-
ing old and unprofitable branches
of the firm, merging the newer
and more successful ones, stream-
linging procedures, raising new
capital, and hiring a whole new
staff of young, energetic, and ef-
ficient professional business execu-
It was a lot of work, and Hum-
phrey did most of it. In 1929
he was made president of the
In the reign of George Hum-
phrey, M. A. Hanna Co. rose to
new and more glorious lrights.
And as Hanna prospered so did
Humphrey. As ruler of a sprawl-
ing empire of steel, coal, steam-
ship, and textile interests, he
amassed a personal fortune esti-
mated conservatively at $20,000,-
His Family,
His Stockholders
& The G.O.P.
BY 1948 the desire for accomp-
lishment was still burning
strong in George Humphrey's
heart. In that year he pioneered
the mammoth $200,000,000 iron
ore development in Labrador, op-,
ening up a great new source of
raw materials from which to feed,
the hungry industrial mouth of the
True, the venture would mean
a lot of money to him and his as-
sociates, yet he never thought of
it solely in terms of financial gain.,
To him the project was a real
accomplishment, and as he said,
"Accomplishment is the sum of a
lot of things-building things,
making things, making jobs for
people, and, yes, making money,
In Cleveland, where he spent
most of his mature years, few
people outside the higher echelons
of the business community had
ever heard of George Humphrey.
In politics, he had never made]
much noise. A staunch Republi-
can, he was content to remain in
the fund collecting end of the Re-
publican Party organization in
In short, he was a business-
man's businessman - fervently
loyal to his family, his stock-
holders, and the G.O.P.
By 1952 he was convinced thatj
the only thing that could save
the country from perdition was
a solid Republican election sweep.1
He had bankrolled George Bender
to the leadership of the Cuyahoga
County Republican machine, had
contributed heavily to Robert A.;
Taft's campaigns for Senator, and,
when the G.O.P. nominated Eisen-
hower he became an avid Ike sup-
porter, gathering up and pouring
,whopping sums into the General's1
campaign coffers.
Eisenhower's election was "one
of the most heartening ex-k
periences" of his life. Humphrey
could now sit back and rest easy.
The battle was, over. The nationi
was safe.
If Your Number's Up,
You've Got To Go
HE WAS taking a happy, well-S
earned vacation on his plan-1
tation 'in Georgia when Generali
Lucius Clay presented him with
the President's offer of the Treas-
ury post. At first he refused: "No
businessman Ijas any business in
politics." Then, he decided toJ
think it over. He discussed the
problem with his wife, Pamela, the

girl he had been in love with "since
the age of ten."
"We talked it over," he said,
".. .and the thing we kept coming
back to was this: Say we were in
the same place on the plantation,
after I'd turned down the job.
Would we really be enjoying it?
Wouldn't we feel I'd let the Presi-
dent and the country down? As
I said to my wife, this sort of thing
is kind of like the draft. If your
number's up, you've got to go."
So he went.
And when he went he took with
him the same determination to
achieve, to build, that had. so
strongly marked his whole career.
As boss of the Treasury Depart-
ment's 87,525 employees and many
diverse Bureaus (Internal Reve-
nue, Printing and Engraving, Mint,
Narcotics, Budget, Secret Service,
to name a few) he had a big job
ahead of him,
IS KEEPER of the Government's
cash, Humphrey felt he "must
do something to bring this octopus
that the Government had become
back under control."
"The U.S. Government," he said,
"now shows all the elements
of a badly managed business."
hard and fast rules:
1 No agency to propose a new
spending plan to the White
House until the Treasury had a
chance to work it over.
r2. No program to be offered
to the White House without a
price tag showing the cost.
He felt that the cardinal sin
of previous Democratic admifis-
trations had been its "hang the
cost" attitude, its habit of adopt-
ing a policy and then trying to
figure out how to pay for it. And
paying for it would always involve
"borrowing more money or run-
ning a bigger deficit." "Now,"
says George Humphrey, "the cred-
it of the American Government is
not unlimited. A country can't
go on outspending itself indefinite-
ly any more than a man can."
To prove his point he refers to
his experience in business. In the
business world, he says, "either
they blow you up way beyond what
you're worth, or suddenly you're
no good at all. While you're rid-
ing high, the bankers are clamor-
ing to take you out to dinner, and
press credit on you...
"The moment you begin to
slip, or they think you're slip-
ping - bing! - your credit's all
gone. And when it's gone, it's
OPRESERVE the credit of the
U.S. Government, Secretary
Humphrey has embarked on a pol-
icy to cut Federal spending "till
the last dog is hung." I so doing,
his critics say, he has sacrificed
the national security on. the high
altar of Balancing the Budget and
Reducing the National Debt. To
this accusation, George Humphrey
makes the following sort of reply:
"It's not so simple as saying,
'How much would you spend to
save your life?', and to give the
obvious answer, 'Anything' It's
much more complicated than that.
Here's a guy with a dagger at
your throat. You have to spend
a lot of money to protect yourself,
but if you spend too much, you
starve to death anyway, so what's
the difference? What we are try-
ing to save is our American way
of life--a free market economy-3
and you can lose that by economic
disaster just as quickly as by mili-i
tary defeat."
George Humphrey is very de-
voted to "saving our way of life."
He has two sure-fire ways to save
1. Remove all government
shackles from privateenterprise.
2. Lower taxes.
The first of these has been re-
jected by an obstinate Democratic
With the second he has found

more success. Income taxes have
been lowered an average of 10 per
cent, taxes on investments have
been cut, and the excess profits tax
is now dead.
HUMPHREY is sincere in the
belief that his methods are
what the nation's economy needs
to give it new life and vigor. He
was horrified at the "regimenta-
tion and government controls" and
other 'things the American people
don't like" which twenty years of
New and Fair Deals forced on the
"We must re-establish natural
- incentives and then we can make
more things for less money for
more people. We can make this
again a land of opportunity for
our young men."~
To this kind of remark, Hum-
phrey's critics retort with the rath-
er obvious fact that it was under
the five Democratic governments
of the '30's and '40's that George
Humphrey made his money and
the M. A. Hanna Co., like so many
other businesses, reaped such large
In his views on the national
political economy Mr. Humphrey
reminds one of a predecessor of
his, another millionaire-Andrew
Mellon. On the wall behind George
Humphrey's desk in his office in
the Treasury Building is a large
and impressive portrait of the thin
and ghostly figure of Mellon staring
firmly out into space.
With Mellon Secretary of the


With Mellon Secretary of the Un

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'The ('ipe Ceittelr

Mon.-Fri. 7 A.M.--9 P.M.
Sat. 8 AM.-5 P.M.
Sun. 9 AM.-1 P.M.

Across from the
Court House




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