Steve Sherry's The Vagabonds of '74

Pizzeria Perigrinations and the Leap of Faith
Home
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


 After the concert we settled back into our routines with an eye toward California. 

Alf was now working at the Pizzeria in Cedar Grove driving the delivery van.
 
This brought some advantages; all the Pizza he could eat and limited use of their van for cruising through town.
 
Winter nights found me on the corner of Pompton and Ozone waiting for him to pick me up. (without his boss knowing).  I'd climb in and we'd be off, making deliveries to the familiar neighborhoods of Cedar Grove.

One night I sat on top of the warming-oven so I could hand the orders to him but when he took a turn too hard I went head over heels and several Pizzas and sandwiches were destroyed. 

Alf had to explain the situation but his boss was a mellow guy and he was soon back with a fresh order.


I remember Don McClean's "Vincent" playing on the radio a lot back then.
 
It was written about Van Gogh but the pathos were Universal  and I related to the concept of the suffering artist and the misfortune involved.

Except for the music, the van would go quiet in the Holy Compression of the Moment
and neither of us said a word until after the song wound down to the end.........

This was a good time for Alf.
Working provided him with focus and money in his pocket meant freedom.......

When it got late he'd drive me out to Bloomfield Avenue and I'd walk the rest of the way home trying to balance a Universe of troubles on my shoulders.......
                                                                                       
and pondering the leap of faith that was California......



   
                       Alf Has Second Thoughts   


In February '74.......
 
I was busying myself with preparations for the trip.
 
I'd gotten a dead end job at a local business which didn't pay much but I didn't need much,  just enough for food and gas.
 
I began calling Car Delivery Agencies and found that there were usually a few vehicles needing to be delivered to California.
 
In the mean time I put things in the most positive light I could  to keep Alf psyched up because in the back of my mind, I knew he might need a little coaxing.

During the last days of February, I hadn't spoken to him at all and this didn't bode well.
I was becoming concerned that he was getting cold feet.

When I finally did reach him, he assured me that he still wanted to go but not with the same enthusiasm he displayed when it was purely hypothetical.

I phoned the agency and they told me they had a Ford Pinto going to the San Diego area and that I could pick it up anytime in the next few days.

All I had to do was go to Jersey City, sign some papers and leave a 50 dollar deposit.

When I called Alf  to tell him the news he wasn't home so I left  a message but he didn't get back to me.
 
It wasn't until the evening of the second day that I was able to get him on the phone.

"Alf, I'm ready, man!" I've got the car lined up and everything. We gotta leave in the next couple days."

But I could tell by his tone of voice there was a problem. He'd decided to nix the whole deal.

"Sorry man, I can't swing it right now. Tell ya what. Go. Have a great time and I'll see ya when ya get back."

I'd been through the movie before so I knew enough to keep my cool and try a little diplomacy.

"No man, ya gotta go. We planned this for a long time. You can't pull out at the last minute. Ya gotta go!!"

"Sorry man, I can't right now. See ya when ya get back ."

That was his mercurial nature.
 
After months of planning and fortifying each other's sense of adventure, he was weighing the uncertainty of the road against the comforts of home.
 
 
Fortunately, the entire time my brother Eddie was taking it all in.
 
He'd known Alf even longer than me and he carried a lot of clout with him.
 
He knew how important it was to me to make the trip and he was becoming indignant.

"Let me talk to him," he said, taking the phone from my hand.

"Hey! What's this bullshit about not going Alf? He said in a tone that could cut right through you.
 
"You can't pull out now, you're going!"

There was more give and take and when he finally handed the phone back to me I heard a contrite voice on the other end.

"Hey man, if it comes down to our friendship, screw it, I'm going!
Let me get some things together and I'll be down tomorrow morning."

I knew the persuasion convinced him and there would be no turning back.
 
I made last minute preparations and packed my duffel bag. The next morning I got the call.

"Davey, I'm on my way down."

A short time later his father's car appeared in the driveway and out stepped Alf in his travel duds, guitar case in hand and duffel bag slung over his shoulder.

"You're bringing your guitar?

"Yeah, in case we wanna jam."

"How much money ya got?"

He took a deep breath. "I've got forty bucks but when my final check comes from the Pizzeria, my Father's gonna wire it to me." 

I had about a hundred twenty five dollars, no kings ransom, but in those days it went a lot further.

Gas was only forty cents per gallon and I remember paying 8 dollars for a motel room when I hitchhiked across country two years before.
 
Food was a lot cheaper too, a cup of coffee was 20 cents and you could buy a hot dog for 35 cents.

We all hopped in my brother's car and drove to Jersey City.
 
I signed some papers and left a 50 dollar deposit which would be refunded upon delivery and we were given ten days to complete the trip.
 
The good news was that it was a Ford Pinto which was very fuel efficient.

The bad news was that it was a Ford Pinto which was tiny and cramped and would be difficult to sleep in which is what we planned to do.

It was a hatchback though, so the back seat folded down which provided extra room to stretch out.

Back in Montclair we pulled together our things and loaded the car.

Had we been a little more seasoned we would have stocked up on more sandwiches, some extra padding to sleep on and a few extra tools in case of mechanical problems.

But we were young and didn't think too much about incidentals.
 
Besides, what could possibly happen that we couldn't overcome? We were twenty years old, right?

 
It was around the first of March, a cold, clear, sunny day. We settled into the Pinto and eased down the driveway.

Alf was toying with the radio as the streets of Montclair disappeared behind us.
 
We were actually doing it!
 
We were actually going to California..... but we had no idea what was in store for us out there on the open road.......

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