Please follow me to my new website, www.MerimeeMoffitt.com.
Same great content and MORE!
Please follow me to my new website, www.MerimeeMoffitt.com.
Same great content and MORE!
What I remember from Dr. Robert Waterman, Ed. D., LCC, and likely, a wandering sage or two is laid out below in three sets of ten, not necessarily chronologically. Three sets of ten; take your pick. I recently found Dr. W online. He still lives and practices in Santa Fe, as of my last research. Just to backtrack a little, the learnings below were presented to me in 1976 or so, when I ventured south to his clinic in Alamogordo. The sliding scale fee which was still huge for me and the room for overnight made him popular with Taos hippies who wanted a hand up out of the hole they may have felt stuck in. I was one of those hippies. I was in dire need of help, and I believe I had two sessions with him. Later, in 1980, I returned to Alamogordo to attend some classes at his school while also attending NMSU-Alamogordo branch. I was launching myself back into mainstream America, sort of.
I. He said:
for my friend Gregg (in plaid) a draft by Merimee from notes by Gregg
Read it with a Dylan/Cash-kind of rhythm (gui’ tar) stress on first syllable
ps Gregg, I know nothing of song writing. This is a poem;
then again, Dylan is a poet.10/21/16)
Me & Bob Dylan 1969
I was sitting in yr driveway, Mr. Dylan, way back then
You surprised me with yr talk about who was I, a friend?
You said the neighbors didn’t like any transients on your porch
but I could come in for a sandwich, if I didn’t mind white bread
I said I did; you sat me down and passed me a guitar
the one from Johnny Cash with your eyes lit up like stars
Just back from Nashville, recording with the man in black
You were holding your white sandwich and you let me pick a tune
A sandwich worth of music on that Woodstock afternoon
I’d walked all over Woodstock asking people where you lived
I’d walked all over Woodstock but I wouldn’t eat white bread
said I wasn’t hungry, a kind of picky, skinny kid
We hippies liked whole food, and fixed a certain way
Mr. Dylan, you were generous to let me come inside
And I’d rather play your guitar than eat a sandwich, any kind
I wanted so to meet you and you said I could come in
Come in for a sandwich; put a guitar in my hand
You said, Come in for a sandwich and put a guitar in my hand.
This came to me, a gesture from someone at the event, a rare photo of my son age two and a half. He was so stylin in his little Peruvian bowler and fringie leather jacket. He managed not to lose that hat for years–until? I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to it. Amos knows how to watch out for his stuff. Notice the sharp eye he’s laying on the dog who is sniffing around his basket. There may have been a candy or two; hippies weren’t big on wasting precious food money on empty calories. Those eggs he’s holding will go into that basket and be enjoyed, every one of them. The weather was good and we can’t see it here, but there was a pig or goat roasting in the ground beside the house. It may have been roasting all night, and I don’t remember eating it, but I do remember the guys tending it, especially so no kids would come near and fall into the pit. An old-fashioned matanza, I would come to learn the Hispanic tradition of the huge party, the roasting animal, the boards on saw horses with a feast pot-lucked by all for all.
The teenagers are sitting on a low, unfinished wall that marks the shape of a front yard where a few years later, when Amos is turning five, Lucia and her son Miguel, and Amos and I will take a turn at being the renters of the house. It was a nice place. A real house owned by the neighbor Fermin who ran his cows and sheep every where but that little yard. Out back were a couple of acres of cow-heavenly green and a pond with a raft that every kid who lived there was forbidden to play on, but most likely every one of them did. I used to go back there and watch Amos pole himself around the pond. He’d learned to swim but there were murky things, old wire and fence parts and it was dangerous. He was careful. He watched out, and a bit like me, his mother, I think he believed that no harm would come to him.
The property was on the road to El Salto, the Tooth, as the steep hills, mountains really, jutted up in a cathedral wall of pointy rock. My friends lived up there on El Salto even after splitting with their husbands; one was Ellie who lived on the edge of a spring-fed pond where a neighbor on the other side had built a sauna. I was jealous of the mountain dwellers who all owned their property. Who lived in homemade, hand made houses. Had their own meadow and out door kitchens, but the two women who were raising their kids alone, without the help of on-site husbands were my friends. We stuck together.
We had a home child care co-op, four or five days a week rotating the option to bring your child to another mother’s home and yard, be it full of dirt or snow. The weather was a friend whose mood one had to know; we all knew how to dress ourselves, our kids, and the co-op worked pretty well. When Lucia and I both got jobs in town at Joe’s Restaurant on the boardwalk, we scrubbed the house up, got the kids’ best toys and books on display, and invited the county to certify us as an official, licensed home day care. The government was left leaning enough to realize women needed day care, and day care didn’t exist. This home-certification allowed us both to get paid for watching each others’ and one neighbor’s kids. We had to have opposite shifts at Joe’s but it worked.
I found it almost unbelievable that the government paid us to watch each other’s kids. But why not? We only took in one other steady customer, a single dad’s boy, but three little boys was plenty enough to call it a job.
I think it may have been that plan, plus the decision to get help from a therapist in Alamogordo that turned my life around forever. A simple flip from downhill to up. A decision to live in the light, no longer the dark. That happened. Of course, the therapist, was a genius, and I still quote his little tips to others I encounter who feel trapped or stuck in a nosedive. One of these days I’ll post that list: quotes from Dr. Robert Waterman that have helped me these last forty years.
This boy, this man, was in France and Germany doing everything he could to stay alive serving his country and very luckily, did not get sent to Nam. He asked; he received. Is that why I finally married him? All he had to do was ask, really, which took him a while. When he finally did, it was on the phone from Hawaii to Alamogordo. But his separated-from-him wife didn’t file for divorce until the day he showed up at my door in New Mexico. However, the story I want to tell right now is about high school.
We went to the same high school for one year. I saw him on the last day of school and my friend brought him to an off-to-college end of summer goodbye party. For us, it was a hot hello. He was a dreamboat incarnate and an oddball to boot. But while he had two years of high school left, I was off to college 100 miles away, close enough to stay in touch, a hot touch. But that’s not the story either. The story is jumping off the MacKenzie River Bridge, just north of Eugene, Oregon, where the park is now gentrified into an RV money maker for the county.
That summer of 1963, I went to the river with some of my graduating class friends who convinced me that everyone loved to jump from the train trestle bridge into the probably twenty feet of water, fast and green, rushing along. Climbing out would be easy as a little gravelly beach ambled from the grass in just the right place for easy exit . I didn’t want to. Almost everything everyone liked was Anathema to me–a personal truism that pursues me relentlessly. But I was trying to be normal and to please my peers. Maybe it was almost drowning so many times in the waves by the Santa Monica Pier where our mother sent us to play with one big inner tube between us, me and Gretchen. Maybe it was boys holding me under in swimming pools or having to swim 20 full laps at summer camp faking it and gagging down river water as I glugged along, but after I hit the MacKenzie River and went down down down to the bottom, I was fairly certain my push back up wasn’t going to be enough. Terror set in as I’d lost all my air on impact with the sand. Above me the sun made a glowing spot I tried to shoot for, giving as much push as I could and wiggling up and up until at last my head burst out and I gasped for breath. It wasn’t fun or funny and whomever I was with that day didn’t get another chance with me. I hate that kind of thing.
Years later, like 50 years later, when Randy and I parked our trailer at the same campground for a week of hanging out with relatives and old friends in Eugene, I asked him if he’d ever jumped off the bridge. “Of course,” he said, and a slight smile passed over his eyes and mouth, “but the funny thing was that I had borrowed my father’s car and before I jumped I put the car key in the pocket of my cut-offs.”
“Just a single key?” I asked, knowing the entire Moffitt family pretty well by now.
“Yeah,” he said. “And when I got out I pulled my pockets out but the key was gone. The funny thing is that in the grassy area, a big Roma family was sitting around the table and in camp chairs, and there was a big old guy there. I asked a women first, “Does anyone here just happen to have a car key for a 1960 Chevy Bel Air,” and everyone just looked at me.”
“Let me guess; they were Gypsies (a word we used in the 60s), so you thought there was the possibility that they stole cars, or opened them when needed?”
“Yeah, I just figured maybe, and the woman walked over to the big guy and he looked at me a little then pulled out a huge key ring and flipped through it, took one off, and said,”See if this works.”
And of course it did. That’s a Randy story. We’ve learned if you want to hear something from Randy you have to ask the right question. “And what about your dad, ” I asked. “Did he notice that it wasn’t actually the same key?”
“He just looked at the key, turned it over, looked at me, and put it in his pocket.”
“And not a word was said, right?”
“Right, ” Randy smiled. “Just put it in his pocket.”
The friendly and curious, Patrick Murphy, curator of the Summer of Love exhibit currently at the MMFA in Boston seemed surprised when I told him Steve and I had had a wall full of Avalon and Fillmore posters–all Steve’s doing as I was a bit impervious to the hugeness of what was happening in the music scene. The posters were pretty and made great wall art, free for the taking at most concerts or on telephone poles or taped inside windows along Haight Street. And yes, I’d been to the Avalon uncountable times, always a guest given my girlfriend status with Steve. Fewer times to the Filmore, where the Airplane reigned and for some reason there wasn’t an affinity between us and Ms. Slick.
One afternoon Steve and I went over to the Fillmore to see if we could meet Frank Zappa, whose music I liked for his iconoclastic lyrics, including the off the wall band name, the Mothers of Invention . And there we were shaking Zappa’s hand ( Steve was; women/girls didn’t shake hands in those days) after helping him haul some of his equipment from the truck parked at the front door, across the long, wooden-floored hall, and up onto the stage. He was happy to meet Steve who was never hesitant to offer his farm-boy strength to a worthy cause. I carried lighter things and figured we probably wouldn’t make it back to the concert even though Zappa had electric good looks. Zappa assured us we’d be welcomed as guests at the door. I don’t know why we didn’t return. Maybe it was just time to kick back–I have no recollection.
One time when the Jug band did open for some big band at the Filmore, at evening’s end and the equipment was loaded into Nick’s old Caddy convertible, a man showed up–a straight looking guy (as in not a pot smoker)–and he handed me and Steve a 50 dollar bill for the band. He loved us. I was amazed at the generosity and thoughtfulness as the jug band’s playing for tips left us hungry occasionally. It was nice, kind of like with inflation adjustments, someone now handing out $250. The generosity was really touching.
The equipment rode home in the Caddy; Steve and I drove the Honda 405 Super Hawk which he and I shared. The dark, quiet, splashy wet streets of the city charmed and glittered as they had since I was a toddler.
This photo stirred up a fun ruckus between me and the MMFA in the last couple of weeks. The Globe writer, Mark Feeney, reported a metaphoric judgement about us being hippie drug dealers. Now when in god’s creation would a drug dealer pose like a gargoyle, grin like an imp, and fan a wad of bills (one’s undoubtedly) in his belt in front of his own house? Why Herbie Green (The Haight Street Photographer) was there on the street is not clear, but I’m guessing he had ambled up the hill with John Hendricks just to see what he could see. Hendricks, I believe, was divvying up the previous night’s tips from the Matrix (still a famous jazz club). I attended that gig several times, maybe for the peanuts and beer which was their pay along with tips, maybe for something to do, maybe to listen to amazing music–a daily event for me for years. Anyway, we probs left the Matrix on our borrowed Honda Super Hawk 405 (thank you Mr. Jug aka Larry Hanover (RIP). I’m guessing we were in bed from the looks of my attire, and John asked us to come down and talk to Herbie Green. What I do know for sure was that I got a dollar of the take to buy food, and we were not sitting out there dealing drugs in the wee hours of the morning. Nor did any of us deal drugs period. The PH Phactor Jug Band smoked like all good folks did in our circle. John had even changed the lyrics from a well-known Christmas figgy pudding song to “We want some maryjuana, we want some maryjuana, so bring it right here.” And people did! The song always embarrassed me a bit, making us seem like beggars, but John was serious.
I’m hoping the curator will place a modified plaque next to our picture, one that might be less demeaning and dismissive.
I’ve asked them to rewrite the part about us–gave several alternatives. One of them to say nothing at all, or else tell who we are and a fair assessment of what we did. I know what I did anyway at that particular juncture–cooked, sewed, followed my BF around–the usual pre-women’s lib behavior that I was taught forever by everyone until the bubble burst. I did earn a little on my portable Singer sewing machine.
Steve? Well, he played music with the PH Phactor. It’s true that Owsley had burst into our house in Berkeley one night (all in my book) and hired me and Steve to cap up his second batch of pure Sandoz–the very psychiatric drug Alpert and Leary were experimenting with on the East Coast. But that was in late 1964, maybe ’65. And we didn’t become dealers. We gave it all away because no one knew what it was. They had to try it before buying it. It was a very short foray into any possibility of making money. We failed; nonetheless, it might have been what Owsley expected. Our Johnny Appleseeding made the drug much more widely known and desirable to those seeking transcendent drug trips. LSD was a serious drug–much stronger than the pot of those days. I’ve heard the opposite is true now, but I am wary of any drug stronger than black tea at this point in my life, and for the last 35 years.
A little research showed me the average year of enforced illegality for LSD was 1970 and later . Unfortunately, research shows also that it can be harmful, most likely when it’s made improperly with impure ingredients, but personally, I never saw that effect. I felt that when it did take hold in San Francisco, specifically at the new rock and roll concerts, it was used for euphoria. The state of California now has the drug pretty tightened down.
Fun to have the ear of these polite gentlemen responsible for the photos and the show. They really are being nice about it. It’s as Herbie Greene explained: “It’s a stereotype; people just assume.” But why not think about it a bit before assuming that all hippies sold drugs? That doesn’t make any sense at all.