All summer, we'd been hearing rumors that Boston was a happening
like everybody knew someone who went to school there and the stories were embellished with Parties, a Music Scene and
most appealing, the fact that so and so had gotten their own apartment there.
Most of the people in my crowd had never been away from home and were reaching the age
where a little exploration was in order.
As we sat in the Suburban we began conjuring Visions of a Boston adventure.
We were floundering anyway.
During the summer Ollie had been working for a landscaper and had gotten laid off.
I was no longer working for my father and was up for anything that would keep
me from falling back into stagnation.
At first it was just talk but soon it took on more serious tones.
I'd hitchhiked to Boston twice before. My brother Eddie and his friend Toad had
been there too but only for a few days.
One thing I knew was that my solo hitchhiking days were numbered.
It was good to get out and explore new places but I didn't have what it took
to carve out a life anywhere, not without backup.
Working within a group though, was a different story and I was excited about the prospects....
In early September Ollie and I decided to check it out and hopped a Continental Trailways Bus
Once we were rolling I
was able to mellow out, looking forward to the New Adventure
but when we passed through Bridgeport, where Veronica was attending College, I felt like I'd
fallen down an elevator shaft.
I was juggling the few answers I could come up with in the way that young
with great passion and naivete.
It seemed to me that
a real chance at happiness had been lost and I felt the sting but we greased the wheels by taking long pulls
on the Blackbery Brandy I had stashed in my coat pocket......
A few hours later we were wandering through Boston
Common where we came upon the Old Burial Ground.
Its ancient headstones were tilted and leaning from the shifting of the earth and thoughts of Pilgrims and Thanksgiving
ran through my mind.....
There were Construction Projects rising to the sky and sounds of jackhammers and
riveting, but my reaction to it was one of irony.
Steeped in End Times scenarios, the state of the world, the War in Vietnam, Watergate and my personal
situation, I saw no point in building more office towers.
"Why are they building new buildings when it's the end of world?" I thought.
"Does the world need more office
space? Don't they know it's futile?"
That was just how I saw things at that particular
time and I knew I wasn't the only one.
The upheavals of our Generation left many of us devoid of optimism.
Those were the times we were living in........
A Night In A Shelter in Brookline
Picking up a copy of The Boston
Pheonix, we scanned it for information on where to find shelter and settled on a place run by "Jesus Freaks."
We called the number and were told they could put us up and we hopped the nearest
Street Car for Brookline.
The shelter was a suburban home with about ten
guests and since Ollie and me were the last to arrive we had to sleep in the basement with four or five other guys.
During the night, cold, damp air filled the room and we tossed and turned trying to
At sunrise we discovered
why it was so cold.
The window directly
above us was missing a pane.
While awaiting breakfast our hosts sat down to discuss Religious issues but the discussion
was met by a very cool reception and even sarcastic remarks.
"I don't wanna know about being humble!"
one guest blurted out.
"That's not what Jesus said," our hosts patiently explained.
what I say!" came the reply as laughter jangled around the room.....
it was going to be difficult to reach these wayward sheep.......
In a chair to my right was a young black dude who seemed open to the sermon but while it was going on he suddenly began having
an epileptic fit.
set in, guttural noises emerged from his throat and he began to drool.......
Everyone was horrified until his friend piped up, explaining that this happened
from time to time and not to worry, it would work itself out.
He was right.
a minute or two it was over and when we came to, he saw us all staring at him.
had a seizure, man!"
Everyone was relieved but the episode put the kabosh on any more Bible study.
We returned to Boston on the street car and spent the day taking in the sights.
That night we called another shelter within the city limits.
Directed to a place near the Harvard Bridge, we arrived on the steps of the wrong
building and banged on the door.
When no one answered we were puzzled then happened to read the lettering above the door. We'd been banging
on the door of a casket company.
"What the hell is that Ollie? Look!"
Ollie read the sign...."Man
let's get out of here!"
It turned out that the shelter we where looking for was in a Church basement where
dozens of beds were laid out in rows.
While unpacking, we scanned the room.
There were some shady looking characters there and we watched for any signs of adversarial intent.
Just as we were getting comfortable something caught Ollie's eye and I looked
to see what it was.
A few rows over a wild haired guy was sitting on the edge of a bed staring directly at us.
No matter what we did the guy kept staring. Whether he was just a burned out Hippie or a homicidal maniac, we didn't
Me and Ollie weren't fooling around.
We were both easy to get along with but in a fight we could both call on Wrestling Skills, against which , the average
guy had little chance.
We were both warriors at heart and wouldn't hesitate to mix it up if our safety depended
That was one advantage I had hanging out with Ollie.
His willingness to take my back in a fight was unquestioned, allowing me to relax a
bit when facing the treachery of the world.
In the morning we began packing our bags and there he was again, the
same guy staring like he'd just seen a ghost, his eyes burning a hole right through us.
This time Ollie confronted him, asking if there was a problem and the guy countered
by asking if we could spare a cigarette.
keep him happy Ollie gave him two and we grabbed our stuff and hit the street.
Thinking we'd never see him
again, we laughed and brushed it off.
Little did we know we would have numerous and random run-ins with him during our stay in Boston.
days later we headed home knowing that Boston had real possibilities.
With a little money and a good second effort we could probably make something work.
Back at the Suburban over pitchers of beer we related our experiences to Toad and Eddie and tossed around logistics.
The plan was open ended but basically called for me and Ollie to go back and get
a foothold then meet up with them at a predetermined place.
For the next several days we went about tying up loose ends then Ollie and I set out
for Boston again, this time hitchhiking......