Steve Sherry's The Vagabonds of '74

Early '74 Montclair, New Jersey, Alf a most unusual friend
Cedar Grove, New Jersey my little town....Miss Munches House, Newberry's, Cedar Grove Pool
Hitchhiking To Albuquerque 1972, The Commune and Krishnamurti, University of New Mexico
Seeing Badfinger At Carnegie Hall, The Dugout, McSorely's Ale House
Seeing Bob Dylan, "The Poet Lad" At Madison Square Garden
South End Pizzeria, Van Gogh and Plans for California
Jersey Shore Recollections, Summer of '71. St. Louis, The Gateway of the West, The Road to Colorado
Rocky Mountain Panorama, Problems with the Pinto, Ritchfield Utah???
California! Lennon's Lost Weekend, Venice Beach, Malibu
Pacific Coast Highway, Panoramic Visions and the Magic Carpet Ride To Santa Barbara
San Francisco, The Shelter, The Warf and the Hole in the Wall Hotel
Sacramento, Jumping A Train? Wierd But True, The Shock of My Life
Oblivion, Reno, Good Samaritans and The Ghosts of Woody Guthrie, James Dean and Tom Joad
A Night In The Can in Kansas
University of Kansas at Lawrence and The Doobie Brothers
True Meditation Foundation of Human Understanding, "How Your Mind Can Keep You Well"
Vagabonds of '74 Part 2: Old Friend Ollie, Meeting Veronica, The Suburban in Montclair
BOSTON, The Leap of Faith and A Night in a Shelter
Sleeping in a Newspaper Truck, Cambridge Hippies and No Turning Back
Squatter's Rights: 269 BROADWAY, Furnishing Our Hippie Pad
269 BROADWAY becomes Miss Dale's Farm
California Hippies Arrive. Free Food from The Docks, Strange Encounters
Kenmore Square Blood Bank
Leonard Cohen, Patron Saint, Ali Defeats Foreman and the Great Squash Fight of '74
Vivid Visitors from New Jersey,
The Invasion of Boston University, Taking Over The Dorm
Jonathan Swifts, Harvard Square and The Sugar Shortage
Beacon Hill Gulf Gas Station and Reflections Atop The Longfellow Bridge
Christmas 1974 in Montclair, Returning to Cambridge, "13th Floor Panarama"
Bandages, Canes, Barroom Brawls and Spontaneous Conversation
Meeting Leonard Cohen
The Beginning Of The End and Saying Goodbye
Vagabonds of 74 Epilogue
Essex Catholic Memories: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Marty Liquori, Mark Murro, City Stadium, St. Benedicts, Dylan, Positively 4th St.
The Essex Catholic Wrestling Team 1971: 8 District Champs, Ting A Lings, Hitting the Town....
Essex Catholic Teachers and Students, Br. Harrington, Mr. Lamb, Mr. Taglieri, Mr. Zarro, Simon and Garfunkel
Random Events at Essex Catholic 1967-1971: Stuff Happens! Bomb Scare, JUG!, Abbey Road
Essex Catholic Senior Year 1971: World Trade Center Rising, The Staircase from "A Hard Days Night?" Meditation, MySpace: "Jersey Shore," Crosby, Stills and Nash Epilogue
The Jersey Shore: May, 2011 Brielle....Sea Girt....Introspection On The Sand.....
Essex Catholic Memories 2012

 Hitchhiking To Albuquerque in 1972, the Commune near Freeland, Maryland, Krishnamurti

In May of 1972, at the age of 18, I plucked up the courage to see if I could still cut it in the world and decided to hitchhike across Country to Albuquerque and back.
If I made it there so much the better, if not, well at least I gave it a try.
Whatever, I needed to get out of the house and the road was calling.
Although great misfortune had befallen me, I still had the remnants of a Warrior and with that Energy I planned my cross-country trek.

After scraping together $80 in travel money I was ready to take the plunge.

The day of departure was rainy and cold but I'd postponed leaving twice before and made up my mind to go that day no matter what.
Carrying a duffel bag and cheap Silvertone Guitar and wearing a trench coat and cap, I walked in the rain down to the Garden State Parkway.

I must have been a sight as I stood in the cold drizzle and was feeling exactly how I looked....... disheveled, down and out.

The going was rough.
Few people want to pick up Hitchhikers on rainy days and by the time I got to Pennsylvania, it was hours later.

In Harrisburg I took sanctuary in the Vestibule of a Church, sitting in shadowy silence warming my feet and hands before moving on.........

My next ride was from a family of Christians, a husband and wife with young children who were kind enough to invite me to their house for soup.

"Thanks," I said, "but I really want to put on some more miles before nightfall."

I headed South on the Interstate with no tangible destination
and every car that passed threw up a cloud of misty, numbing wetness.
Half and hour later a car pulled over and I ran with duffel bag and guitar knocking together.

"Hi, how ya doing?"

"Fine,"  comes the reply.  A mellow looking guy with a beard and ponytail is looking back at me. "How far ya going?"

"Far, out West, Cross Country."

"Well, I'm going to Maryland. Climb in!"

Making small talk, I immediately felt comfortable in his presence.

He offered me a snack, pushing a a bag of Sunflower Seeds and Raisins toward me on the front seat and I dug in.
 Heavenly! First time I ever had Sunflower Seeds and Raisins.
More! Good! Hungry from the road......Grateful, I wolfed it down.

"What's your name? he asks.
"I'm Hari." he says.
"No, Hari."
"Oh, one of those Guru types," I thought.

"What kind of music ya play?" he said, after seeing my guitar.
"I'm into Dylan."
"Oh, Dylan? What songs of his do you like?"
"Oh man, so many. 'Hard Rain,' lots of 'em."

After a pause he begins to sing "Love Minus Zero, No Limit" softly,
as if I'm not there and I'm feeling at ease in his presence.

Deeming me trustworthy, he probes a bit.

"You into Communes, man?"
"Communes? I've never been to one."

"Well, I'm going to one in Maryland.
It's a really cool place, good people.
If you want to come they'll let you stay the night."
"Yeah, I'll go."

"Okay," he said, "You'll like it. Mike Seeger stays there sometimes."
"Mike Seeger, Pete Seeger's brother, you know the fold singer."
"Oh,  yeah, I know Pete Seeger."

We drove along, windshield wipers moving across the glass.
A load was lifted from my shoulders. I had a place to "crash" and relief settled over me.

Then, in the misty rain ahead, Hari spied another hitchhiker, a long haired student type clad in blue jeans and military jacket.
He tossed his knapsack in the back and climbing in next to me, stricking up a conversation with Hari that pretty much left me out of the picture.

Tossing it around, things turned to Metaphysics, a subject of which I had a developing grasp.

"I'm going to hear Krishnamurti speak," the hitchhiker said and Hari perked up.
"Krishnamurti ?"
"Yeah, he's speaking in the auditorium at my school next week. It should be really cool."

It wasn't by any means all over my head.

I'd already started out on that path and had actually heard Krishnamurti speak at Carnegie Hall
and knew about Yoga and Meditation but I didn't have the Maturity to track with those guys so I sat in silence as they went on and on. 

I resented the newcomer, both for ignoring me and boring me.

Finally reaching his destination, we pulled over and let him out.
I was happy to see him go. His energy overwhelmed me but my interest had been piqued and after a thoughtful silence I spoke again to Hari......

"How long ya been into religion?"

This brought a smile to Hari's face.

"I'm not into religion, man."  (I knew I'd committed a faux-pas.)
"We were just discussing Krishnamurti. He lectures on Metaphysics and stuff."

"Yeah, I know who he is," I said.

But there was so much I didn't know and wanted to find out.

Whenever I was around Counterculture People, they always seemed to have an inside track.
They lived in a different world and I sensed that there were good things to be had in that way of life.

Mellowness and Peace seemed to be part of it and I wanted to be Mellow and at Peace too.
This is what my "On the Road" odyssey was all about, to find some semblance of peace, to find a sense of self.

I was hungry for answers but I knew I had to be wary.
I'd run into Charismatic Bullshitters in the past, pushing points of view and philosophies that could really run me off the rails.
I would have to trust my instincts to keep myself safe from harm.

                           The Commune Near Freeland

     We exited the Interstate and drove down a rural road to the Commune.
I didn't know what to expect but sensed things would be alright. 
The main building was a large converted Mill with a stream running beneath it and a path led up a rise to the front door. 
I followed Hari to the entrance where we were greeted by a group of men and woman ranging in age from their mid twenties to mid thirties.

I was introduced.

"This is Dave, I picked him up hitchhiking and he needed a place to stay  so I thought I'd bring him along."

Inside I gazed around a dim lit room with a Crackling Fireplace.
I was told to make myself at home and lost no time in doing so.

Off came my trench coat and hat, off came my shoes and socks and I positioned my wet clothing around the fire.
Surrounded by strangers I was a bit awkward but one of the woman took a particular interest in me and tried to include me in the proceedings.

"Maybe Hari's friend will play his Guitar for us later....."

I soon saw that the Commune was not without conflict.
One of the men was at loggerheads with the others over his cigarette smoking.
They wanted him to keep it outside and he felt his rights were being violated.
He stormed out the door and back in a few minutes later still angry until the others tried to calm him down......

As dinner was being prepared I bidded my time, anticipating gorging myself full.......
The food was laid out on a large table that was very low to the ground requiring everyone to sit on the floor.

The array of foods had me flummoxed. I'd never seen this stuff before.
There were bowls of green veggies that had been picked out of the backyard.
There were seeds and beans and sprouts and pasty substances in bowls.
I couldn't figure out what anything was or what went with what...... so I watched what the others did and tried to follow suit so as not to give myself away.

Everything tasted strange and bland and when the meal was over I felt totally unsatisfied.

Having burned up energy traveling I craved a Submarine Sandwich or a Bowl of Chile, something substantial.

There were attempts to engage me in conversation but I was withdrawn.
Overwhelmed by the days events all I was thinking about was where I would lay my head and soon one of the men escorted me up a narrow staircase to the third floor which was a large open room.
Lining the walls were bunk beds, probably eight or ten.

"Pick any one you want," he said and turned and went downstairs.

I crawled into bed, pulled up the covers and lay there trying to put things in perspective.....
My first day had been a Success !!!
I started from a world away, put everything on the line and somehow found my way to a Commune in Maryland. It was pretty amazing.

"Tomorrow I'll head out early and really put on some miles."

I settled into the strange bed tossing and turning until weariness overtook me and I fell into a deep slumber..........

                                   The Road

 In the early morning I felt spacey and scattered and lay in bed trying to pull my thoughts together.
I was famished and headed downstairs where I was escorted to a pantry unlike any pantry I'd ever seen before.  
Instead of packaged foods from grocery stores it was filled with bins and barrels of fruits, nuts and grains.

I followed my host's lead  scooping up rolled oats, dropping them into a bowl and sprinkling them with raisins. I poured hot water over them and Voila!  Oatmeal.....!

"We really like to be generous," one of them said, "but we don't have unlimited funds,
so anything you can give would be appreciated."

I had no problem with that so I stuffed a couple bucks into a can they had behind the door
and meandered outside where chickens scratched at the ground in search of insects.
Suspended between two trees was a hammock and I lay in it rocking back and forth as I gathered my energy to take on the new day.

Finding the Commune was a stroke of luck but I couldn't wait to get out of there.

My body was craving protein and I had my mind set on a good meal so when some of the woman emerged from the house and asked if I wanted a ride to town, I jumped at the offer.

"We're going to have our backs cracked. Would you like to come and have your back cracked?"

"Uh, no thanks, but I'll take the ride. I wanna get back on the highway."

Man I was starving.  Felt like a pack of wolves was inside me. 

A few minutes later about seven of us piled into a car and rode into town.  At a nearby diner I had a good breakfast which brought my strength back and I was ready to take on the new day.

Staying at the Commune was a good positive experience, a Credential.
I would have to retain the details for posterity.........

               Hitchhiking To Albuquerque

     It was now time to deploy my secret weapon.

Back in Jersey I'd taken a piece of cardboard and drew a large hand on it with the thumb in the hitchhike position.

I cut it out, gluing it to a flat stick and now had an Oversized Prop.
I 'd seen others use it before.
When you stood at roadside and held it up, people would strain to see.
Once they realized it was a giant thumb it never failed to get a smile.
If the guy hitchhiking has a sense of humor he was probably okay to pick up right?
Over the next few thousand miles it would get me many a ride.

I bumped into another hitchhiker around Knoxville who was visiting his girlfriend at college.
He, like me, had no place to sleep that night but was able to wrangle the use of a car and he and I slept in a friend's Station Wagon not far from the dorm. He in the front and me in the back.

In the morning I was making my way along a stretch of Highway when I was besieged by huge clouds of black flies.  They were everywhere.  

At first I thought I could swat them away but soon they were in my eyes and ears and when I coughed or breathed, in my nose and mouth.

Even though weighed down by my Guitar and Duffel Bag I had to high-tail it out of there.
I ran a hundred yards and still under siege, had to stop and take a tee shirt out of my bag and wrap it around my head to keep the damned things off me.  It was a horror.

     In Little Rock I snagged a ride from a guy in a Pick Up Truck going all the way to Los Angeles.
He drove into the night and when he got tired I took over while he dozed. 
Later, I got tired myself and almost drove off the road starting the poor guy awake.

He got me all the way to the outskirts of Albuquerque, leaving me off  by the side of the road where I watched lizards scurry by in the heat of the brilliant sun. 
It was definitely a new world for me.

I made my way over to the University, spending the afternoon and evening at the Agoura,
where students congregated to talk and hang out.
Thinking I could get away with spending the night there, I found a corner in an out of the way place but after an hour or so I was awakened by one of the staff who broke the bad news:

"Hey bro, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave. You're not allowed to sleep here."

I was forced to gather up my things and go out into the desert chill, still groggy, and spent the night on a park bench as the temperature plunged to near freezing. 
I was paying my dues again.... 

The next day there was an Viet Nam anti-War rally at the local park and I made my way over, mingling with throngs of students.

Some were preparing to do battle with the cops which I wanted no part of. 
It wasn't going to prove anything and I didn't want to get my head stoved in for no reason.  

I did though, offer to get up and play guitar when someone requested music,  playing "Hard Rain." 
I'd never played in front of a crowd before and I was nervous but was able to pull it off.

     One thing I remember from that day was two large dogs getting into a vicious fight and people being too paralyzed to do anything to stop it. 
Finally, one intrepid soul grabbed one of the dogs by the neck and yanked them apart.
I thought that was the bravest thing I'd seen in a long time.

From Albuquerque I hitchhiked up to Denver where I stayed in a low rent downtown hotel.
It was sparsely furnished and provided only basic comfort but I was able to take a bath and dislodge some road grime and soothe my aching muscles.

Before going to sleep I wedged the back of a chair under the door knob to allow a few seconds reaction time if anyone tried to enter.

I wasn't all that worried about my physical safety.
As far as fighting skills went I was quite efficient but a little caution couldn't hurt.

In the morning I hooked up with I-70 heading east....
In Missouri I had a close call west of St. Louis.

I was standing with my thumb out when a Convertible approached at a high rate of speed.
A girl in the back seat launched a beer bottle at me and though I saw it coming I didn't have time to react.
Before I could take evasive action it hit my duffel bag and shattered.
If that duffel bag wasn't in front of me it would have hit my knee probably injuring me severely.

After almost two weeks on the road I rolled back into New Jersey with a slew of new experiences under my belt. 
Soon though, the same old problems surrounded me and I began to stagnate once again.

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