Steve Sherry's The Vagabonds of '74

Vagabonds of '74 Part 2
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

"My heart broke in the general despair and opened up inwardly to the Lord.....I made a supplication in this dream....."
                                        Jack  Kerouac

In the summer of 1974 my father needed help with his painting contracting business and although our relationship was strained I took a job painting a large house not far from where I lived.

Warm weather was upon us and I spent time going up and down ladders, painting shutters and being left alone with my thoughts.....

At night I began hanging out in the gin mills, one of which was The Suburban in Montclair.
It was an old fashioned place but when the drinking age had been lowered to 18 the owner jumped on the bandwagon, appealing to a younger crowd  and the place turned into a Zoo....

In the middle of the circular bar was a perch where a guy played Guiter and sang the hits of the day.
His favorite song must have been "Moondance" because over the summer I must heard him play it two hundred times.

The back room was decked out with tables and chairs allowing for a large crowd. 
Each evening I'd bump into people I knew from surrounding towns.
One of them was "Ollie," an old friend from Cedar Grove.

He and I went back to the time when we were about nine years old.
Like Alf, he and I shared lots of adventures although personality wise, the two were totally different.
Where Alf was Urbane and into Music, Ollie was into physical things like fishing and shooting bows and arrows.

Our childhood years ran the gamut of going to the movies on rainy days to running our dogs to flying kites.....

A few vivid memories:

The time his mother gave him money to get his haircut but on our way to the Barber we decided to invest in a scissors and have me cut his hair so we could pocket the change.
His mother would never know, right?

I could tell right away that cutting hair was more difficult than we thought.
First, one side was too short then the other. Soon, Ollie looked like a lawn mower had run over him. 

When we walked in the front door his mother's eyes widened and a look of horror came over her face. Ollie did manage to attempt to explain.
"I jerked my head in the chair," was all he could say before she let out a piercing shriek.
A minute later Ollie was up in his room and I was on my way home.....

Another time we decided to create a Civil War scene using toy soldiers.
In his attic was an old table top which would serve as our base.

We used Elmer's Glue to secure the soldiers. Now all we needed was some dirt and grass.
No problem, there was plenty of that outside.

All we had to do was get it into the house without his mother seeing.
This was done by lowering a shopping bag out the window several times until we had enough. 

We then "glued" the dirt to the table top. Now all we had to do was tilt it to get rid of the excess. 
Any residual dirt we could vacuum up..................."Ready, TILT!"

Fifteen pounds of muddy sludge now covered the bedroom rug.
His mother had been wondering what we were up to and opened the door to see us frantically trying to clean up the mess. She freaked out and moments later I was on my way home.......   

On another occasion Ollie and I went to the Candy Store and bought a couple comic books.
Now we needed to place to sit and read them.
For some reason, the truck parked at the loading dock behind the Shop Rite on Pompton Avenue seemed ideal.

In the back of the truck were tons of cardboard boxes that had been broken down and were waiting to be hauled away. We climbed in and soon were totally absorbed in our reading. 

We didn't realize how much time had passed but were beginning to wonder if it was past dinner time.
A moment later we heard someone calling Ollie's name...... It was his father.
Somehow he'd found us in the back of that truck.

He was ticked off and started swinging his belt, landing some shots as Ollie tried his best to block them. He was whisked away in his fathers car and I was on my way home.......

There were lots of other stories like these but most had happier endings.

                The Suburban and Meeting Veronica

One night Ollie walked into the Suburban and a friendship that had been dormant for years was rekindled.
We talked about the old days while socializing with acquaintances from surrounding towns.

Among these were Roger Beaman from Caldwell and a guy from Verona named Toad, two street wise characters who partied all the time and were friends with my brother Eddie.
Unbeknownst to me then, Ollie, Roger and Toad would play vivid roles in my life in the near future......

On an otherwise uneventful night while drinking beer I'd gotten up from the table to use the bathroom and on the way bumped into Toad who was chatting with a trio of young woman, one of whom I found very attractive.
He introduced me and although we'd never met I felt as though I already knew her. 

Later when the girls walked by our table we invited them to join us. That's how I met Veronica.
She had just graduated High School and she and her friends were making the rounds.
(the drinking age then was now 18 years old )

Veronica and I were attracted to each other and soon a romance blossomed. 

She was  good looking, intelligent, had a good sense of humor and it seemed that she held the key to happiness........

At the time I was living two separate lives, one partying with the crowd and the other caught in the middle of the collapse of my family and the struggle to find piece of mind.
It was a balancing act I was perilously close to losing. 
Emotionally, I was all over the map and there was no place to go to escape the pressures.
I was just too young to know what to do and felt overwhelmed......... 

Meanwhile the Summer was tumbling by.....

In September, Veronica was going away to college which meant goodbye.
From my point of view it was the end of a good thing that had barely begun
and I was feeling a sense of loss.....

What was supposed to have happened was that she would somehow see who I really was, what I was about, the real me the world didn't know, my search for Understanding and all that went with it.....

But there was no way she could comprehend any of that and our paths were already diverging......

At the end of August she and her friends went down to Belmar at the Jersey Shore and the following afternoon Ollie and I joined them. They drove, we hitchhiked.

While the others hit the beach Veronica and I shared one last transcendent interlude........
There were so many things I wanted to say but there was no time.  
She was distracted anyway with thoughts of going away to College. 

As she herself once said "It seems like everybody is against us." 

No mention was made of the future. It was just goodbye. A chapter in my life was over and the book slammed shut in my face........

I felt like Humphry Bogart in Casablanca and no one, not even Ollie could console me.....
Back at the Suburban the crowds had thinned and things were not the same.
All I could do was return there a few nights a week for the sense of diversion it offered.......
a few beers and I could temporarily forget my woes.........

Little did I know that just around the corner an amazing and unforgettable Adventure was awaiting........


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