Steve Sherry's The Vagabonds of '74

How Your Mind Can Keep You Well, Foundation of Human Understanding

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

              Who is the third who walks always beside you?

              When I count, there are only you and I together

              But when I look ahead up the white road

              There is always another one walking beside you."

                                                     T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land


In the morning our ears were ringing from the night before
but the Concert had been a tonic and all in all, we were way ahead of the game.
Since yesterday afternoon, we'd gotten our laundry done, found a place to sleep, scrounged up some money for food, were able to shower and took in a Doobie Brothers Concert.
What more could we ask for?

We walked down the steps and out into the morning air.
The weather was pleasant and we were optimistic about putting some serious miles behind us.  
We cut across the Campus lawn onto 9th Street and started walking.
With the vestiges of hunger stirring we figured we'd better try to drum up some breakfast money
before hitting the road so when we came upon a house with two young woman sitting on the front porch, I took the initiative. 

"Excuse me, but could you help us out? We're trying to get up some breakfast money."
"We're traveling through, trying to.........get back East......and......"

While I'm talking, one of the girls stands up and walks down the  porch steps.
She reaches into her pocket, grabs a handful of money, a dollar and some change,
and looking me directly in the eye, deposits all of it into my hand as the words are still driveling out of my mouth.......
".....we......could eat......."

I was taken aback.
Not only for the money but because she radiated something I was not used to seeing.

"Oh, wow, thanks, thanks a lot!  Now we can buy some Peanut Butter and Jelly!"

"You can buy it right there," she said, pointing to a Convenience Store at the corner."

"Oh cool, I appreciate that."

"And then you can come back here and eat."

"Oh great!" I said. "Can we leave our bags here for a minute?"

We dropped them at the front steps while we ran to the store.
With the money, we were able to buy Peanut Butter and Jelly, a loaf of bread
and a quart of milk then returned to the house.
We were invited inside and were provided with plates, utensils and glasses.

I made a sandwich and poured myself a glass of milk then sat down in the living room in front of a Coffee Table covered with an assortment of Books.
       A Profound, Valuable and Life Changing Moment
I was casually scanning them when one in particular caught my eye.

It was a paperback that read "How Your Mind Can Keep You Well." 

Below the title was a picture of a man approaching a tree.
Behind the tree was a light as bright as the Sun or could have been the Sun.

The man had his face buried in his hands appearing frightened as if the Light was overpowering him.

I knew Instinctively what the picture meant to portray.
It was The Light of Reality and it was shaming him with its brilliance.

Somewhere along the road of life he had gone wrong and somehow along the way, either through his searching or being sought out, The Light had descended upon his path.

The image was nothing short of Profound and the title of the book was provocative.
I already knew that the mind/spirit connection was the key to the Human Condition.....
and I was intrigued. 

"What's this?" I asked my new found friend.

"That's my Road Map," she said matter-of-factly.

I picked up the book and began flipping through the pages.
The words were like hot coals being poured over my head.
I recognized uncompromising Truth in each sentence and it really hit me were I lived.

I'd spent the last several years of my life investigating every religious trip that came down the pike
and all of them ended up being cotton candy.
Everything was flowery and charismatic and I knew instinctively that none of them could ever heal me. 

When I picked up "How Your Mind Can Keep You Well" it was like someone had been reading my mail.

It came right out and said that our Emotional Responses to the world are making us sick and that hopelessness and depression were caused by improper reactions, that the world exerted hypnotic pressures and obedience to those pressures enslave us. 

It dealt with it all, hostilities, resentment, injustice, being lost in thought, anxiety, fear..........
No punches were pulled, everything was on the table and I knew that someone was telling it like it is. 

"Hey, I've been looking for something like this!"

Then came the clincher.  It taught a technique for learning a Judeo-Christian Meditation
which was outlined at the beginning of the book.

It was a given that Meditation was a practical path to change.
Without being awakened on a Mystical level you only have religion and not Spirituality..........

I knew all about the Gurus and Yogis that I'd seen come and go.
I'd been to Catholic School and learned all about Saints and ritual.
I smoked dope and done hallucinogens and read books on how to raise one's Consciousness,
but everything I'd ever come across fell short. 

Whoever wrote this book knew something on a Different Level.
The picture on the cover, the contents and the fact that there was such a thing as
Judeo-Christian Meditation was enough for me.
At the age of 20,  I was sophisticated enough to discern what Truth sounded like. 

"Hey, I've got to get a copy of this book!"

"It comes with a record too," my friend said, to teach you how to Meditate."

"A record? Really? How can I get one?"

"I'll get a piece of paper and you can copy down the address."

The author was a man by the name of Roy Masters
and published by The Foundation Of Human Understanding in Los Angeles.

"Los Angeles?" We just came from Los Angeles."

I copied down the information and stuck it in my wallet.

By this time Alf and the other girl joined us in the living room,
whereupon, Alf, in his magnanimity, made a comment about the house being "nice."

"Come on," they said, "we'll show you around."

We were taken on a tour ending up at one of the bedrooms.
Hanging on a bedpost was a hand tooled leather visor, the kind that was popular back then.
For a long time I'd been thinking about buying one.

"Hey, that's neat, I gotta get one of those."

"Here, you can have it," my friend said removing it from the bedpost.  Her kindness went on and on.

"No, that's okay, I don't wanna take yours."

  After being torn from stem to stern, meeting those girls was the most meaningful thing to happen 
on our Odyssey and I knew it had something to do with that book.
The world had confused and pierced me but I still recognized Truth when I saw and heard it. 

What I encountered in that house on 9th Street in Lawrence, Kansas in March of 1974 was Unassailable
and it opened up a place within me that had remained shuttered because of the treachery of the world.

We polished off the Milk and packed away the Peanut Butter and Jelly,
this time, careful to wrap them up in the blanket.
The road was beckoning and we began the process of saying farewell and thanking the girls for their hospitality. 

"What's the best way to get back to 70 East?"

"It's that way, through town," my friend said pointing. "We can take you there."

"You can take us there?"  

"Yeah, let me get my truck."

"You have a truck?"

We stepped outside and waited as the gate opened and a Pick Up rolled out of the driveway.
We tossed our things in the bed and jumped in ourselves as the girls sat in the cab and began a winding drive through town.

Along the way we passed a Holiday Inn with a Marquee that read, "Welcome, Doobie Brothers." 
I nudged Alf and pointed and he smiled. 

A minute later we were easing to a stop.
The girls got out of the cab to see us off and we all exchanged hugs.

"Don't lose that address," my friend warned.

"I won't. I've got it in my wallet." 

We ascended the Ramp as the girls did a U-turn and drove back to town.

"They were nice looking chicks," Alf said. 

"Yeah, they were nice looking," I said, "but I knew there was a lot more to them than that."

         When I least expected it I stumbled on something I knew was of great value.
And all this was due to the fact that the jars of Peanut Butter and Jelly had gotten broken.
Had I not gotten hungry at that moment and not fished the jars out of the bag discovering the mess,
we would have never stopped in Lawrence.

 Had the girls not been sitting on the front porch that morning
or had I not stopped to ask for a handout, my life would have gone in a totally different direction.

As it turned out the Meditation taught in the Book and on the Record would have a profound impact
on my life, restoring me in ways I could never have foreseen.
(Years later I realized that the jars had not been broken accidentally by Alf
but on purpose by the Cops while we slept in the cell.
The jars were just too pulverized and shattered and the bread too scrunched up to have been an accident.
Ironically, because of their mischief, it ended up changing my life for the better.


                         The Remainder Of The Journey

From that point on, everything was a blur.....

Tourists looking down on us from the comfort of their Tour Buses as we hitchhiked.......
Snatched up by a young driver who needed someone to talk to because he'd had an argument with his father........
in Ohio, catching a ride with a guy  who was going all the way to New Jersey.......
and finally falling out of the car at exit 148 of the Garden State Parkway........
and walking home from there.........

For a few days I rested, nursing my sore muscles and wondering where Life would take me next.
It would be a week before I spoke to Alf on the phone and a few more weeks before we actually
did anything together......

                             Judeo-Christian Meditation

For a few days my world appeared new but as I settled in to routines the newness wore off 
and I realized how little things had changed.
When the month of May rolled around I was living back at my parents house in Glen Ridge.

There had been a lull in the Upheaval which made things somewhat bearable
but my family was still in disarray......

Within a week of my return, I sent away to the Foundation of Human Understanding
for the book and record and was surprised that the package arrived just a few days later.

On the Album Cover was the same picture of the man walking past the tree
and shielding his face from the light.
There was a pamphlet inside saying something to the effect that the world was
"a chain gang of miserable people"
and it cautioned against reacting wrongly to its pressures and cruelty.

The Revelation that Most People were operating under various compulsions was somehow freeing. (maybe that explained people's cruelty )

I now had deeper insight into the Human Condition and knew that help was within reach
but I was strangely reluctant to sit down and actually try the Meditation.

It meant Commitment and I was too scattered to submit to any kind of discipline.

I put it off for several more weeks but wanting to be free of the self defeating thought process that had made a home in me, I eventually sat down to give it a try.

"You are about to embark on the most wonderful journey of your life....."

Much to my surprise, the voice on the record had an English accent.
This was an unexpected twist but the voice was soothing and I settled in for the ride.

True to my initial insights, the experience was Vital and New........
It cut through inner chatter (we all have that) like a knife through butter and brought me to a place where I could separate from it........

My experiences with many other metaphysical intrigues all rolled into one couldn't hold a candle to the Meditation taught by Roy Masters. 

There were admonishments to "speak with firmness, kindness and patience" when dealing with the world and to "overlook on the spot" when encountering flaws in other people.
In other words, see things as they are but don't cast judgment.

As I Meditated a door opened.

It was like the shutter of a camera
but instead of a split second glimpse I was able to keep it open, allowing Light to enter.......
From birth we are taught to deny the true self and when that happens we start dying. 

The recording left no stones unturned and I was amazed at how much this man, Roy Masters "knew."
I was reminded that there are Irrefutable Truths that the world cannot change
and that there certainly is a God. 

I practiced the Meditation for just a few days before stopping.
The problem was that I just wasn't ready for it.
By chance I'd stumbled on it but like any other ego, I wanted peace without having to change.
I was still immature and although I'd suffered greatly in this life, I would have to endure much, much more before being able to Meditate over any length of time........

By "happenstance" I'd been given a glimpse into Reality in order to restore my Faith
and now had Irrefutable Proof that that Dimension did exist.............

End of Part I


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