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We started jogging toward Stephenville. I didn't miss my shoes much—my feet were pretty tough since I only wore shoes when absolutely necessary, anyway—but I sure missed all the other stuff I usually wore in winter. Fortunately, it was about 4 a.m. and there were no cars on the road. But, unfortunately, dawn was about three hours away, and unless we were going to set a world record for the 41-mile run we would be out on the road just plain naked when the sun came up. Our only consolation was in knowing there were 23 other naked freshmen running around the countryside. We hoped the law would take that into consideration and not be too harsh on us individually.
Well, we'd jogged for about an hour when we saw a farmhouse sitting pretty close to the highway. We jumped into the ditch alongside the road and reconnoitered the place just like we'd been taught to do in ROTC. "Castleberry, look there," I said. "Help is at hand." Out behind the house we could see clothes hanging on a line. Obviously this farm wife was either lazy or forgetful, and she'd left the family's duds out overnight. "We are saved," I said.
We sneaked up on that clothesline, moving so carefully you'd have thought our lives were at stake. The moon was up, and it was pretty light, but we were doing an outstanding job of infiltration when, with us only 20 yards from the clothesline, about eight dogs suddenly came boiling out from under the house barking their fool heads off. Castleberry and I both threw it into high gear, dashing under the line, the dogs at our heels, and grabbing at whatever we could reach. We swept on around the house and headed for the highway. Lights were already coming on in the house, but we fooled those dogs. Both of us could break 10-flat and those dogs had never chased anyone faster than a meter reader. We left them standing at the edge of their yard barking. After that we kicked it on up the highway and went a half mile in what must have been close to collegiate record time. Finally we tumbled off the highway and got down in the ditch to see what kind of clothes we'd come away with. Castleberry had got himself a pair of bib overalls. They might have been a little big, but at least they were passable.
Once I saw what I had, I tried to trade Castleberry out of those overalls. I offered him my radio, my girl friend, my undying gratitude, even a hundred dollars, which he knew I didn't have. But he wouldn't budge. "I'd rather be dead," he said, "than wear that back to Stephenville." I had come away with a lady's slip.
Well, it was nearly dawn, and a little traffic was beginning to show up on the highway. While I waited in the ditch, clad in my slip, Castleberry stood by the side of the road and tried to thumb us a ride. Finally, a farmer in a pickup truck stopped. I was grateful that he didn't take off when I came bounding out of the ditch. Instead he let us into the cab and, with me sitting in the middle, we started for Stephenville. He was an old man, a tobacco chewer, and the back of his truck was loaded with chickens he was taking to market. For a long time he didn't say anything. Every once in a while he'd roll down the window and spit. When he did, he'd cut his eyes around at me. I was drawn up in as tight a ball as I could get into, but I still felt worse than if I'd been naked. Finally he said. "What's that you got on there, boy?"
"It's a long T shirt," I said.
He spit out the window. "No, it ain't. It's a chemise. My woman's got a bunch just like it."
After that he said, "You be some of them college boys, ain't you?"
I said we were, and he said, "I told the old woman you were all crazy." He stopped there, not bothering to add, "And this proves it." But, then, he didn't have to.
Well that old farmer turned out to be a lifesaver. He took us right to the steps of the Fort. The last thing he said was, "Sonny, I wouldn't be running around in them kind of clothes as a regular thing."