Berkeley, the Sixties and Me, Part 25 … HAULING A HI-JACKED U-HAUL


Welcome home Yank!

“Whoopie, now you’re a Canadian, a “Landed Immigrant” … what next?” I asked myself as I drove back to Berkeley from the consulate in SF“How are you going to get there? And what are you going to do when you get there?”

True to my one-step-at-a-time algorithm for life, I’d not given the move to Canada its proper due diligence. In fact, I’d not met any of the usual investigatory obligations at all!

“Oh well! Who cares!” I counseled myself, visualizing the maps of Vancouver lining Stuart’s apartment walls. “It’s got a great rep with everyone in Berkeley. It’s surrounded by dark green forests, snow-capped mountains and white-capped seas. It’s plenty big enough to find a way to make a living as an advertising man [a career decision, like that of my earlier plan to become a beat poet, was inspired by one of their troop, in this case Alan Ginsberg who’d written copy for a big national ad agency in his pre-HOWL days]. And if it doesn’t, so what? It’s not like they lock the exit doors when you cross the 49th parallel!

“On top of which, Berkeley and the Bay Area have way much too much adrenalin. Just look! Your cohort’s protests ended with the weeks-long occupation of the campus and its neighborhoods by the National Guard! Getting tear gassed is getting routine! The world’s media congregates on the university’s doorstep like doomsayers to chronicling the agonies of an era! False prophets proclaim their prophecies from atop upside-down milk crates! They’re killing young Americans defending a corrupt government in a civil war 10,000 miles over an ocean in a jungle! The world’s going crazy and you just need to GO!

“And be honest with yourself. The things you want today will change. Look at those who preceded you by ten, 20, 30 years or more! Make them your guides! What paths did they take and realize that just as nature had laid out their path, it will with you as well. So tread carefully. Don’t start in a place you’re not in love with because it’s terribly hard to stop, to change the course of your life once it gets going! On besides, you know you don’t like it here any more!


We’re all on same journey that leads to the same place … 

“Vancouver will be either great, or not, but why waste any more time? That won’t prove a thing. Just get on up there and get going!”

Once again firm in my resolve after that unaccustomed bout of self-doubt, I moved on to my next step … the logistics of the trip. How to deal with some of its more mundane details, such as how much money will I need? Does my dog need shots?  What should I take and how will I get it there? Will my car make it to BC?

As fate would have it I was working at Blue’s Enco, a truck gas station on 3rd Street in SF at the time. I fueled and serviced cars, trucks and semi’s, as well as a large inventory of U-Haul trucks and trailers which we maintained and rented. I went to work there following my informal graduation from Berkeley (the traditional ceremony was cancelled due to the National Guard occupation … though 20 years later my class did have its formal version of our matriculation which I attended with my 16 year old son Joey in tow … what a great trip that was!) for the summer of 1970.

“Hey, you know I’m moving to Canada?” I informed the U-Haul rep during one of his inspections of our operation.

“No, haven’t heard. Wow! Hey, good luck!” he responded seeming genuinely pleased.

“Of course I’ll need a cargo trailer. How about giving me a discount on a 12 footer?”

The rep was more than sympathetic to my need, but had no official way of helping me … official that is.

“Damn! Sorry! U-Haul doesn’t give discounts to anyone ever, ever at all. I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do for you … but if I were in your shoes … I’d steal one?”


The best deal’s a real steal!

“Steal one?” I replied incredulously. “Steal one?”

“Yep. Steal one! Hey, U-Haul doesn’t prosecute for stolen trailers so long as they get them back,” he explained. “And right now there just happen to be a couple of stolen 12 footers someone from the mid-west left sitting at a Shell station just a few blocks from here.”

“My God!” I thought, struck by the coincidence, “It’s downright providential!”

The rep gave me the address and wished me the best. I decided to take his advice, especially considering the money I saved by getting the trailer “free” would free me up to leave immediately!

So I slapped a rented hitch and mirrors on my  ’67 Ford Galaxy, one with the legendary 289 V8 engine, and headed for the nearby Shell gas station to hitch up a U-Haul trailer and head north on the lam!



About Joe Illing

I hope you'll find my posts entertaining, occasionally edifying and worth whatever time you can spend with them ... Joe
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1 Response to Berkeley, the Sixties and Me, Part 25 … HAULING A HI-JACKED U-HAUL

  1. Pingback: On My Own, Chapter 1 … RAKING LEAVES IN FALLING SNOW | FINDING MY WAY

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