Prophetic Hitchhikers Since 1970's
The vanishing hitchhiker phenomenon took on a decidedly divinatory cast during the 1970s and early 1980s.
- 1975 saw a rash of reports of a prophetic nun vanishing from cars after hitching lifts near the Austrian-German border. On 13 April that year, after a 43-year-old businessman drove his car off the road in fright at the disappearance of his passenger, Austrian police threatened a fine equivalent to £200 (1975 value) to anyone reporting similar stories.
- In early 1977, nearly a dozen motorists in and around Milan reported giving lifts to another vanishing nun, who (prior to her unexpected disappearance) forewarned her benefactors of the impending destruction of Milan by earthquake on 27 February (this disaster did not happen) (La Stampa, 25 and 26 February, 1 March 1977; Dallas Morning News 25 February 1977).
- In 1979, near Little Rock, Arkansas, a 'well-dressed and presentable young man' was hitching lifts despite laws against such activity. When safely aboard, he would confide details of the forthcoming Second Coming of Christ to his startled host(s). After revealing his insights, he would vanish from the moving car. The 'presentable young man' continued his excursions for over a year. The last reported sighting took place on 6 July 1980, when the vanishing hitchhiker's prophecy was apparently a bungled kind of meteorology. He assured his worried driver (and passengers, thus making this a multiple sighting) that it would 'never rain again' - before vanishing from the speeding car a moment or two later. A named Arkansas State Trooper - Robert Rotten - later confirmed to the press (Indiana Star, 26 July 1980) that they had logged two reports of this character's behaviour, but were unofficially aware of many more.
- At around the same time as the above prophetic hitchhiker, a second itinerant soothsayer was vanishing from cars around Interstate 5, between Tacoma, Washington, and Eugene, Oregon. Described as a 50-60 year old woman, sometimes in a nun's habit, the hitchhiker would discourse on God and Salvation before vanishing from the car's cabin. Another witness had been warned to repent his (unspecified) sins, or die in a road accident. As 1980 progressed, this vanishing hitchhiker began to display a worrying interest in Mount St. Helens. She took to warning motorists that the eruption of that volcano in May 1980 signified God's warning to the Northwest and that those who did not return to the fold could expect to perish volcanically in the very near future (18 May, to be precise). Tacoma police logged twenty calls from motorists who had met this sinister individual. Latterly, the woman took on a new guise (or perhaps a new vanishing hitchhiker with similar preoccupations assumed her duties) and the roads were again busy with whispered intimations of pending disaster (this time, set for 12 October). The Midnight Globe (5 August 1980) quotes two police officers who had dealt with shocked motorists and one motorist who claimed to have met the vanishing woman or women.
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Famous quotes containing the word prophetic:
“Talk of Columbus and Newton! I tell you the child just born in yonder hovel is the beginning of a revolution as great as theirs. But you must have the believing and prophetic eye.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)