Already a seasoned hitchhiker, on a Monday morning the thirteen-year-old extended a thumb. “Eventually a car slowed down and pulled over to the curb. There was a woman driving and she was all alone. This was shocking.” She invited the thirteen-year-old inside. He took the handle to the back door and was all the more shocked when she insisted he sit in front beside her. Once he was settled in, “lo and behold, she lit up a cigarette!”
He explained, “Why, that was unheard of. It was the first time I saw a woman smoke. From where I came it was looked upon as being devilish. We thought it all came from Paris. That’s where all the clothes come off, where the cigarettes are sucked on, where the wine is, soon after dark” (Zandstra Interview, 10-31-09).
Surely he was on the road to perdition and more with this worldly woman. “We got a rolling and pretty soon she asked me where I planned to stay. I hadn’t thought about that. When we reached the outskirts of Chicago, it was grim and sickening. We rode by industrial dirt, grime, gray stuff, factories, homes of the poor. We got to Chicago on dark streets. We passed homes of the ‘has beens,’ she told me. Finally we stopped at a house.”
“‘Wait here,’ she said, implying she’d find a place for me to stay.” Remarkably, it was located within walking distance to the World’s Fair. In the dark he found the city frightful, “all horns and automobiles. You can’t touch or speak to anyone.”
“She came out and had arranged to let me sleep in the corner of a ball room. Inside there were Italian chandeliers and carvings. It was like frosting on a big cake.”
For privacy they put up a curtain between him and the woman and her friends. Through the curtain he remembers hearing stirrings of what was going on. They were sounds that disturbed him. “Oh, I couldn’t get to sleep. I did take my shoes off, but I kept all my underwear on, my shirt, maybe my pants too, and just lay there and listened, and listened, and listened.”
He waited until he thought it was safe to escape. “Pretty soon I got up, took my shoes, and carried them along to their big front door. I was relieved that it was unlocked. As quietly as I could, I got out of the reaches of this house (Zandstra Interview, 10-31-09). Quickly, he hurried toward a major avenue and found a building that appeared safe where he curled up in the dark beside the steps and tried to sleep. When it was light he walked the few blocks it took to reach the World’s Fair. He waited until it was time to open the gates only to discover that the paltry change he had in hand wasn’t nearly enough to pay the entry fee.
Tired and hungry, he realized he’d better head for home—but how would he get there? He canvassed the parking lots, searching for any car with a Michigan license plate. Upon finding three he camped out until one of the owners returned to one and opened the car door. Armand dashed over. Once again the youngster settled in, this time safe and satisfied. As the landscape passed in various compositions, he began to ponder what his next journey would be.