A Walk Across America (1979) is a memoir and adventure story written by Peter Jenkins (1951 – ) as he walked from Alfred, New York to New Orleans, Lousianna. His walk began October 15, 1973 but his journey started in the years before through his experiences in Woodstock, his work through college, and finally a divorce with his first wife. Then he spoke with Stu Wigent, a security guard and friend at Alfred University, and Stu tells Jenkins something that still resonates fourty years later:
“‘All this commotion that’s happening in the country? Sure, it’s all happening. You think it’s something new?’ He glared at me like a prizefight and shook his head. “No, sir! It’s been going on for thousands of years. Yeah, and a lot worse too. What you need to do, Peter, is stop believing all those slick people on the television and news and stop listening to those crazy people making that stuff they call music!’ He leaned forward and put both elbows on the desk with his hands together. “If all you college kids want to leave this country or burn it down, you better be mighty sure you know what you’re doing.’ His arms swept up and backward. ‘If you want to leave, go right ahead, but first you sure as shootin’ ought to give this country a chance!'” (15-16)
Jenkins was incredulous at first, but eventually he set out on the road and encountered America and her people. Along the way he met city folk and mountain men, experienced racism and country prejudice, church services, revivals, and cult-like farms, but from all these things he found that he lived in a country with a heart to it, and found a faith in God he was searching for. He concludes “In this book I’ve told you about the America I discovered as I traveled from Alfred, New York to New Orleans, Lousiana. There is much more to be told, and much more awaiting Barbara and me as we leave the Rockies and head for the Pacific.” (291)
Jenkins, Peter. A Walk Across America. New York: Harper Collins. 1979. Print.