A WALK ACROSS AMERICA SUMMARIES
Chapter 1: Talkin’ by a Wood Stove
In this chapter we get introduced to Peter Jenkins and get know what he is doing. It takes place sometime during Peter’s journey. Tommy, Doc, and several other men in a country store in a giant blizzard first confront Peter. Tommy and the doc ask him what the devil he is doing hiking across America and Peter tells them that he is doing it to get to know the country. Tommy offers Peter to come to his house for some food, but Peter rejects. Peter calls for his dog Cooper. A thin farmer gives Peter five dollars in case he needed it. Peter and Cooper then leave the store and go into the giant blizzard. Peter then tells us how Cooper saved him one time before the walk. Peter and Cooper were hiking along an eleven-mile alternate training route when Cooper killed a snake that would probably have bitten Peter. We then get introduced to some of Peter’s background. This so-called “Walk Across America” was something that was brewing in Peter’s mind for a long time. Peter tells us that he grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. This is a town of about 60,000 with manicured homes and country clubs. It’s high level of income and social status made Peter think that he had to attend Yale or Harvard. In Greenwich, you were considered a greaser if you drove a Corvette or had a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Most people drove Country Squire Wagons or BMW’s. Peter’s problem, according to him, was that he thought that all towns in America were like Greenwich. Peter tells us that he suffers from hollowness deep inside him that does not go away. It comes back after beer, booze, or drugs wear off from a party. It didn’t go away after he skied in a chalet in Stowe, Vermont. A revival of Woodstock, which took place during the summer of his senior year in high school didn’t bring any relief either. College and being by himself made the hollowness intensify. Peter himself began to wonder what he was doing hiking in a blizzard.
Chapter 2: Mount California
The majority of this chapter tells of Peter’s past and begins with Peter’s memories of college, which he finished just eight months ago. Peter tells us that he signed up for an art class, which he at first thought was for girls and “femmy” guys. John Wood was Peter’s art teacher. Peter was transferred from the Liberal Arts College to the College of Art where he became a sculptor, glassblower, and potter. He centered his work on clay. Peter would stay up until 3 A.M. dancing and have beer chugging contests. He was excited by the young ladies (Becky, Chris, Jo Ann, Marianne, etc.), but he was mostly interested in a girl from his hometown who went to a Philadelphia college. She had sent him a love letter inviting him to see her in Philly. He never saw her during the first four years of high school because she was sent to a prep school geared to getting students into Ivy League schools. She had sent him another letter after prep school. They made phone calls to each other until she was transferred to Alfred University with Peter. They got an apartment under their favorite Sub Shop and they eventually got married in 1971. They moved into a third-floor apartment at 51 North Main Street in Alfred. Their relationship began to crumble and they separated on May 30, 1973. She returned to her parents in Greenwich and Peter left to live alone with Cooper. Peter became an assistant electrician to pay his rent at the apartment and decided that it would be best to leave everyone and everything that he knew. His first idea was to travel from Alaska to the tip of South America on a motorcycle. If he couldn’t make the money, he would become a rancher in Utah or Wyoming. Peter asked his step-grandmother, Rhonda Jenkins, if he could have two thousand dollars, but she refused, so Peter sent a letter to a Utah sheep rancher. The rancher told Peter that Cooper would have to stay behind, so Peter decided...
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