The house had a front porch, two main rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom, all very, very basic. I loved that house and it was haunted. I felt at home in it in a way I can't describe.
But when I found the house, parked, and knocked on the front door, no one answered but a guy who saw me from the little cabin next door came over and said, "Are you Mary? Are you looking for D.?He's probably at the music school. Come on, I'll take you over there."
And that was how I met Herb.
Herb did take me to the music school and we did find D. and Herb and I became very good friends and he was one of the kindest, funniest, craziest men I'd ever met. He was going to FSU art school at that time but he'd spent some time before that in prison. He'd been charged with possession of weed. He'd also been in Viet Nam if my memory serves.
He was always happy. I've mentioned that I was in a major depression then and I was and although I may not have even understood what depression was and certainly didn't talk about it, Herb sensed that all was not well with me. That I was, in fact, broken. And he became my buddy, my pal. Looking back I see that Herb was part of my healing because he accepted me the way I was and gave me nothing but respect and love.
I remember one night a bunch of us were very stoned and as stoned people will do, we got hungry. I excused myself, went into the kitchen and baked what I now call my hippie apple cake with whatever ingredients I had on hand which was not much. Herb took one bite of that warm cake when it came out of the oven and he looked at me and he said, "Lady, you are a goddess."
And I have never forgotten that.
He was big and he was burly and he was bearded and long-haired and he'd wallpapered his little cottage in aluminum foil and egg cartons for some reason (an art project?) and he'd painted an old Electrolux canister vacuum to look like a penis and he always had some crazy project going on.
At one point, he got an opportunity to go to Mexico to teach via some bizarre art-school contact but he couldn't go because he was still on parole so we came up with the good idea to write the judge who'd sentenced him a letter explaining the situation so that he could leave the country. We walked to the convenience store right across the street and bought a stationery pad, the only writing paper they had, which was printed on every page with one of those completely inane and ridiculous "Love Is" cartoons from the seventies. Because yes, this was the seventies.
And then I proceeded to write the letter for Herb on this stationery and in the letter I pointed out that Herb had served his time and served his country and had gotten this amazing opportunity and so please, would the judge release him from his parol?
The letter was sent.
The judge released him.
I don't think that Herb ended up going to Mexico but eventually, he did leave for somewhere.
Right about the time he left, our good friend Bill Wharton, now known as the Sauce Boss who was then and is now a musician, woke up one morning to find an old National Steel guitar leaning up against the wall of his house on his front porch. No note. No nothing. Just that guitar.
And that guitar- well- it changed Bill's life. It changed his music, it changed his mind, it changed everything. And for years he was afraid that whoever had left that guitar was going to come back and claim it until finally once, Herb came back to town and touched base with all of us and he asked Bill, "Hey man, you still got that guitar?"
Herb had gotten it in one of his crazy barter-trades and knew he'd never play it but had a notion that Bill would.
Bill's played that guitar all over the world and up and down and back and across the US many times. He's still playing it.
And that was Herb.
Last time I saw him he'd been down in South America working on some sort of gold recovery scheme from mines and he told me that he was going back and he was going to make a million dollars and that was all there was to it. And then he got into his little airplane and flew away.
Haven't heard from him since but I sure hope he made that million.
So that's my story about Herb and I'm enjoying writing these pages from the book of my story. They make me think about the past and about the people and places that have truly made me who I am. Tallahassee was and is filled with those people and of course those places.
Today we went to the river, my husband and I, and we met up with Hank and Rachel and Lily and the kids and some friends of Hank's and Rachel's and Kelly and Wiley Cash and then our beloved John and Melissa showed up and it rained but it didn't lightening or thunder and we got river wet and rain wet and snacked under the beautiful new wooden shelter that looks like a chapel.
Eventually everyone left but us. It was perfect.
Wiley and Maggie played in their own little river as well as the big one.
This morning I got to spend a long time on the phone with my best friend since 1966 and just now I've gotten off the phone with May. We made each other laugh so hard.
And now I'm going to go make some pizza. The dough is ready to roll out on the pizza stone and I have spinach to cook for it and wild hog sausage to put on it and I can hardly think of anything better.
Thanks for coming along with me on these memory dances.
Maybe you're now desperate enough to use the dreaded oven-cleaner. Just saying .. 😁ReplyDelete
Well, maybe. Purely for curiosity's sake at this point. Does it work?Delete
My sister and I used to stop and see her BFF in a little house like that, in Tennessee. She, my sister's friend, and my sister too, were in that sort of memory dance you described, in the way you described it. A nice chapter. Thank you. I was the sixties, she was the seventies.ReplyDelete
Things were different in the sixties and in the seventies, weren't they? I like hearing that other people lived in old cabins like this. They were beautiful little houses in a very humble way.Delete
Oh Mary. What a beautiful story. Herb accepted and loved you the way you were because he saw your heart. Your beautiful, kind, vulnerable heart.ReplyDelete
I love Bill Wharton’s music and his gumbo ~ years ago, when I had Cafe Alcazar, he came to St. Augustine and we had the privilege of prepping all the veggies for his gumbo. At the time, we had some pretty big pots, but that gumbo pot was HUGE!!! I think we chopped at least five pounds each of onions & peppers!
Herb pretty much accepted and loved EVERYONE they way they were. He was just like that.Delete
Bill needs a giant gumbo pot. He feeds the masses!
Ms. Mary , you ARE a goddess! Oh my, I loved that story so much, I love the little house, so like the one I lived in back in the not-a-dime days, playing stoney music on the porch, barefoot, singing-ReplyDelete
thinking all about thinking. Lovely old days they were too. Thank you for this fabulous story, LOVE
I'm glad you liked it, Linda Sue. One of the coolest things about those days was that we hippies could go anywhere in the world for the most part and find our people. We had so many shared points of reference, didn't we?Delete
I love your Herb story. Especially the Love is... Bit. Astonishing. I hate how inflexible modern life is. There's so much less leeway now, though I recognise that this can be a good thing too.ReplyDelete
I still shake my head in wonderment that that damn letter worked. I think that's the first time I ever realized I might be a pretty good writer.Delete
I would guess that writing these stories of your past is like putting a puzzle piece into place. With each piece you more fully understand the life you've lived--with gratitude and love for people like Herb, who've been there for you along the way.ReplyDelete
Yes. For sure, Mary. I've always been fairly aware of the people who have made the differences in my life. I have never taken the loving ones for granted.Delete
I love the writing and love the story. You were and are a much braver woman than I am. I've pretty much lived my whole life as a reaction to fear it seems. I'm glad there are people like you that don't let their fear hold them back.ReplyDelete
Oh, honey! I, too, lived in fear. It may sound like I was brave, but I was not. I had to get out of Denver- that's all there was to it and so driving across the country was one-mile-a-time to get where I thought I needed to be. It held out the possibility of finding love and safety. There are countless incidents I could talk about though where my fear definitely held me back. I think about that a lot.Delete
Great story. Herb sounds like one of those gracious souls who makes life more interesting.ReplyDelete
a goddess indeed, and a damn good role model as well.ReplyDelete
Well, a goddess in a kitchen when there are stoned people to be fed! Ha!Delete
oh Mary, what a great story. I was never on my own the way you were. I was securely pinned under my father's thumb and the only way out was marriage and that is why I married the rat bastard. I'll have to see what kind of stories I can dredge up though my memory isn't that great.ReplyDelete
As I said a few weeks ago, I think my stepfather wanted me as far away as possible. There was always the possibility that I was going to tell someone what he'd done. So he didn't have a problem with me leaving.Delete
I bet you have some stories too. Of course you do!
Isn’t it extraordinary that people can play such critical roles in our lives at a certain point in time and then we completely lose touch, yet we remember them with such love. I am loving these memory dances as you call them. Also the river in the rain looks like a grand adventure!ReplyDelete
I really enjoy reading the stories of the past and I absolutely love that little house. There was one down the road from us when I was 10-12 and I loved the tin roof. The lady of the house always had beautiful plants hanging and I begged my mother to get some flowers.ReplyDelete
Mama could grow anything but flowers. Later in life she loved marigolds but they never thrived.
I was a 70's girl. I long for those days again. It seemed to me that things were just so much simpler. I love how we can still listen to the music of which I grew up on.
Keep telling us of your adventures Miss Moon (Goddess) :)