Sunday, May 26, 2013

Singers, Songwriters and Banjo Players

Hearing that Richie Havens died at 72, I am struck by the fact that he was not that much older than I am, and he was a lead performer at the 1969 Woodstock Festival in NY. I very much wanted to borrow my father's car (quite likely the white '65 T-Bird convertible) and drive up to this early 'field of dreams.'
No surprise that I was not given the car, nor my father's permission... and back in those days girls did honor (usually) their fathers' and mothers' wishes.
These are Washington cattle, but the barn in the background
reminded me of the S. Woodstock structures; my former
school in Vermont.
This news got me started re-listening to some old songs, old music from the 60's and 70's, and it brought back some incredible memories of my days at the Woodstock Country School (continuum) in South Woodstock, VT. While the real school doesn't exist anymore, the energy and spirit that embodied this remarkable educational experience lives on.

I really wish my photos taken during those school years had survived. There were shots of me barreling down 'Suicide Six" with my ski team, me standing next to the weapons carrier, with 16 forward gears, that Bruce Fairweather taught me how to drive so I could join some classmates helping him to pull stumps in one of the fields. I know there was one of me with long hair, in bluejeans looking so very much like Joan Baez's sister that when I went to NYC and met up with some classmates and we went into a coffee house to hear a new singer called Bob Dylan perform, someone came up and hugged me thinking I was her. I went backstage and met Joan Baez that night... such a lucky kid. She said, "Yeah, you could pass for my sister. Must be the nose." (Thanks, Joan.)

No photos remain of me with my dappled horse, Topper. None of the work I did with Lowell Naeve, our art and photography teacher, has survived either. It was required reading to read his book, "Field of Broken Stones"about being a political activist. (Link is to an e-mail thread about the Naeve family.) Rare to go to a boarding school where the teacher can stand up and talk about something he believed in and show his commitment. And he was just one of so many who affected my life and my thinking during the two years I was there.  I still remember his admonition, "Really look and really SEE the essentials of what you want to convey... narrow the photo frame down to capture that."

Where else would a proper young lady learn to do mechanical drawing? Imagine letting a student leave class to simply walk around because she was upset about a family matter, and while never ignoring the issue several teachers checked up on her later on to be sure she was OK? We had freedom, we had incredible teachers who loved what they were doing and we called them by their first names, too! Our headmaster, David Bailey, was an old friend of my mother's which was how I ended up there instead of one of the other four 'strange' schools allowing co-educational boarding in those days.

Because of the folk singers who sang the story of our times, including Pete Seeger who came to the school a number of times to sing and to lecture us about being responsible citizens of the Earth, I learned to love music and to appreciate how it can influence change; something that would be useful when I eventually went on to make a career as a Public Relations counselor.

I want to support the Woodstock Country School philosophy because it really helped me to become me. And as one alumni said in the video, "We all turned out to be decent people." And perhaps some day in the future, there will be another school modeled on the philosophy that students develop a hunger to learn when they are allowed to explore the world in a safe way, keeping them grounded by requiring them to do certain agricultural tasks or washing dishes.

Bill Boardman, graduate of the Class of '56, keeps the historical School information. There was a reunion in 2010 at the Woodstock Country School which I wish I had known about. Well, I am intending to make the next one.
A Rose for Richie Havens... thank you for the "Sun" song.
But back to my Richie Havens purpose in writing. It was his 1970 hit song, "Here Comes the Sun" that would eventually become my Sun Valley, ID, theme song, sung in the car at the top of my lungs, driving through the rain or the snow or even on a sunny day. And he never knew how that song could lift my spirits, or that it is probably one of the ones my kids most remember me singing as we drove along.

And I still sing at the top of my lungs while driving on the back roads... where no one is likely to think I'm some batty old lady at a stop light.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Little Nash Rambler

Actually, this is a photo of a 1961 two-seater Nash Metropolitan (link will take you to history on Wikipedia), perhaps the precursor to today's Smart Car, as it was intended as a commuter vehicle but the marketing was aimed specifically at the post-war women needing a 'compact car' (although that marketing phrase was still several years away) to run errands or for the dad to leave at the train station. To disprove the theory that car manufacturers cannot, or have not been able to, create a vehicle that gets good mpg, this car got from 29-39 mpg depending on speeds traveled - that was 60 years ago, folks!

Restored in the familiar colors of the time period (1954-1962), this cute little buggy (smaller than the VW Beetle) was recently offered for sale in Sequim, WA. I don't know if it is still for sale, but seeing it, I was reminded of the song called "Beep, Beep" that came out in 1958, made popular by the Playmates. (Click here to listen to it.)
1967 Nash Metropolitan, a two-seater, for sale in Sequim, WA
Perhaps you do as well... it starts off slowly... and builds up speed as the song progresses, a technique called accelerando in the music world. On Wikipedia it is stated that in order for the song to be released in Europe they had to change the words to "bubble car' and 'limousine' to avoid mentioning specific trade names, but since the vehicle was being partially constructed over there I am not sure what purpose that served.

Songwriters: Cicchetti, Carl / Claps, Donald

[Very Slow]
While riding in my Cadillac,
What to my surprise.
A little Nash Rambler was following me -
About one third my size.
The guy must've wanted to pass me up
As he kept on tooting his horn. Beep! Beep!
I'll show him that a Cadillac
Is not a car to scorn.
Beep beep. Beep! Beep! Beep beep. Beep! Beep!
His horn went beep beep beep. Beep! Beep!

I pushed my foot down to the floor
To give the guy the shake.
But the little Nash Rambler stayed right behind;
He still had on his brake.
He must have thought his car had more guts
As he kept on tooting his horn. Beep! Beep!
I'll show him that a Cadillac
Is not a car to scorn.
Beep beep. Beep! Beep! Beep beep. Beep! Beep!
His horn went beep beep beep. Beep! Beep! 

My car went into passing gear
And we took off with gust.
Soon we were doing ninety -
Must've left him in the dust.
When I peeked in the mirror of my car,
I couldn't believe my eyes:
The little Nash Rambler was right behind -
I think that guy could fly.
Beep beep. Beep! Beep! Beep beep. Beep! Beep!
His horn went beep beep beep.

Now we're doing a hundred and ten -
This certainly was a race.
For a Rambler to pass a Caddy
Would be a big disgrace.
The guy must've wanted to pass me up
As he kept on tooting his horn.
I'll show him that a Cadillac
Is not a car to scorn.
Beep beep. Beep! Beep! Beep beep. Beep! Beep!
His horn went beep beep beep.

Now we're doing a hundred and twenty -
As fast as I could go.
The Rambler pulled along side of me
As if we were going slow.
The fellow rolled down his window
And yelled for me to hear,
"Hey, Buddy, how can I get this car
Out of second gear!"
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
Front view of the Nash Metropolitan in Sequim, WA.
When the car was offered new the price was about $1700,
but comparatively it was not an inexpensive choice.
It seems to me there were more silly songs back in those days, or maybe I'm just not getting the humor of the songs played today... Hope you enjoyed this 'reverse gear' reflection....

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy Birthday to my Baby Bro...

For you... I hope you enjoy it!
He won't remember this, but I do... I was about six, and since he's almost exactly three years younger than me, I still have my wits about me to do simple math, that makes him three in this recounting.... we were at Dublin Lake in Dublin, NH, being watched by someone, but not very well. (He was called another name as a child and has changed it many years ago, but we will, for the sake of having some kind of title, call him YB - Younger Brother). Well, YB decided that the making of sand castles was no longer interesting, and he wandered off. But he didn't wander off toward the changing cabins - to the right - but toward the area where the boats were launched - to the left of the beach.

A great hullabaloo went up when it was determined that he was no longer on the beach, and lifeguards and other adults were launched into the Great Search Party for YB. I watched this with some interest, but not enough to get as excited as they were getting. I continued making up the moat, the next bucket level of the castle and then someone ran over what had been our creation, mashing it back into the sand.

Now I was fully bored with all of this action and I decided to walk toward the left side of the beach because it would take me away from the hysteria, and because even the lake water is more peaceful over there. As I padded along on the needle-studded dirt path, I noticed a movement ahead. As I got closer, I thought I could see YB. (I should add that as a severely near-sighted child, any fuzzy image might have been mistaken for YB.) He confirmed my suspicion by whispering, "Don't tell them I'm here." I was tempted to obey his command, pretend I didn't hear him, but I also knew there was likely to be a greater consequence for keeping his secret. What a conflict!! Let him stay lost and thereby redeem my spot as the adored younger child, or become a heroine by revealing where he was and have to endure his presence for a little longer? I opted for the latter. I could try and dispose of him later on. Immediate gratification for being the finder of the lost won out.

NOTE TO YB: I really am glad now I wasn't able to carry out all my early dastardly attempts to remove you from my life... has it really been 60+ years of our sibling rivalry? Hope this birthday year is one of the best so far and all my love to your long-suffering wife!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Community Affair

I've been wanting to see more of the Sequimites (if that's how they call themselves) so I was looking forward to the Nash Farm community potluck and barn dance, held at their farm this past weekend, kicking off the annual Irrigation Festival. Fortunately for all the activities held this weekend, it was a perfectly lovely sunny and almost-cloudless time.

Earlier in the day I managed to take this shot of the San
Juan de Fuca Strait looking toward Seattle.
Sons and mothers turned out to share time together.
 For many who attended, it must have been more like a family reunion than a community-wide gathering, but even for those of us who are new to Sequim, it turned out to be a very friendly experience. 

I met three delightful young women who were all, like me, struggling to find their way in a place that is new to them and where it is not always easy to get into the 'pipeline' of information about activities. I urged them to come to the Open Mic and just after I started talking about it, I was able to introduce them to The Computer Guy (you know who you are!) and the Musician (you also know who you are!) I featured in my previous blog about the Wednesday night entertainment. I realized later it is something I have always been good at - putting people together to make a successful something happen. I'd love to see the Open Mic evening become better attended, for a lot of reasons, some of which are selfish.

The Nash team provided us with some awesome organic
hamburgers, and plenty of smoke to keep critters away. 
Soon we had a table filled up and we were laughing and kidding with each other as if we had been friends for a long time, and it was a sweet feeling - like getting your hand squeezed under the table in the high school cafeteria by someone who wanted you, and only you, to know you were special. It was an evening to fill up both the physical and emotional gaps and to make connections that might go a long distance.

I love being around people who use words to play around, who can pick up on subtle and possibly outrageous pairings to turn what might have been an innocent comment into something hilarious and unexpected. 

The musical entertainment during the time we were eating was just perfect; I confess I didn't get the names of the players or band(s), nor did I  get details on the really wonderful Blues band that provided the dance music, but like the smoke from the barbecues that was blowing past my head, the earlier music provided a curious foggy background presence which made the evening pleasurable.
The potluck/buffet table was an ever-changing source
of salads, casseroles and desserts. No one left hungry.

The food contributions were impressive. I got there early and enjoyed the first round of salads and casseroles and ate too much to have room for more than a couple of fresh strawberries for dessert. Even after 8 p.m., more people were coming with more food so next year I will be aware of this and plan accordingly.

The sun finally dropped behind the building so I could stop squinting, and the dance band started playing; wonderful memorable tunes that made me stop at the entrance.

I watched the dancers and dreamed...

He held out his arms and she moved into them easily, and it seemed like a perfect match even though they had never danced together before. His grace and strength gave her courage to relax and enjoy the moment of contact, hands to hands, and to laugh and see the smile in his eyes. It was only a dance. He was virtually a stranger, but for that moment in time, he was so much more, and she let the music take her away. 
And after all was said and done, there was the lesson about
recycling - tastefully managed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hooray, Hooray for the First of May....

No pictures... Oh well, wait, click on the link below -

I (link) have a birthday this month... I am:
* Older than dirt
* Informed I was born when horses had toes - really?
* Celebrating a mid-life birthday for the second time!
* Told I look pretty good for my age...
* Eligible for Social Security, Medicare and AARP
* Aware that younger folks are holding the door for me - at last!

I would like to hear from my readers and let's compile all the 'old age' references we can here... and laugh about it!!