Howard Pease. The Dark Adventure (1950) 229 pp. [juvenile]
Sixteen-year old Johnny Stevens is hitchhiking from his home in Joliet, Illinois, to the home of his Uncle Albert and Aunt Sarah in Colina, California, “a little place near Palo Alto.” He is going to take a job in his uncle’s grocery store, and attend night school, in order to help support his widowed mother and his younger brother and sister. After the car in which he is riding goes off the road and crashes (the driver had a little too much to drink), Johnny is abandoned on the side of the road by the driver and a second hitchhiker. Suffering from amnesia, he is rescued by an elderly couple and given the name Charlie Whipple. Not wanting to be sent to a juvenile detention facility, Charlie takes off on a cross-country journey, meeting up with other “road kids.” He eventually returns to Colina, where he gets involved with Nick Bantry (the second hitchhiker), whom he believes can help him regain his identity. But, Nick is the leader of a gang of teenage marijuana dealers and Charlie gets caught up in a variety of illegal activity—and gets caught and arrested by the police.
Setting: Santa Clara County (“Colina”)