Steve Sherry's The Vagabonds of '74

The Beacon Hill Gulf Gas Station
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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
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Dead of Winter....a little corner on the world .....

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64 cents per gallon was very expensive in 1975
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"I was lost when I met you on the road to Larrisa....."

Over the course of several weeks I'd dropped into a Gas Station at Charles Circle in Boston to see if they had any work available.
 
The guys downstairs were kind enough to let me use their phone number and sure enough, one day the Manager called.

"Can ya come down and start work?"
"When?"
"Right now."

I told him I could if he gave me a little time.
"Good," he said, "Be here at four o'clock."

It wasn't at all convenient that I start that day but I hopped a Subway and less than an hour later I was being briefed on what to do.

Beacon Hill Gulf was no ordinary Gas Station.
 
There were no mechanic's bays. Its purpose was to sell Gasoline and lots of it.
 
Located at the foot of Beacon Hill next to the old Phillips Drug Store, everybody and anybody stopped there at all hours of the day and night.

For a few days I worked the tandem shift meaning someone else would be in charge. 
I pumped gas until one in the morning then mounted the steps to the Longfellow Bridge for the trek home to Cambridge.

The attendants who worked there were a Motley Crew, a mix of students, gay woman and down-and-outers like me.
 
The cool thing was that everybody was into Poetry and Art and there was a real sense of community. 

Van Gough prints hung on the walls and potted plants brought a cozy feel to the place.
 
There was a large comfortable chair utilized by friends or people who just wanted to get in out of the cold.
 
Instead of conversations about ripping out engines or replacing gaskets, you might find yourself discussing Karma or Reincarnation.

It was the kind of place where if you waited long enough, you'd see it all. 
 
It didn't take a rocket scientist to pump gas but it took a myriad of physical and social skills to deal with the public.
 
The place did a huge volume and I felt like a juggler trying to keep ten plates spinning at once.

After sporting events or concerts it would be filled with cars and you had to be adept at pumping gas, taking Money and Credit Cards then getting them out so the next guy could get in.
The lines sometimes went around the block......

There were people asking directions, people who wanted you to put air in their tires and people who would try to pull away without paying.
 
There were clunkers that stalled in the middle of the lot and starving students pulling in for a dollar's worth of gas when a dollar meant something and others who paid in pennies, pulling away before you could count them. 

There were people in back seats half dressed in compromising positions and fights that happened on the street as people rolled out of The Father's Three Bar on Charles Street.
It was a Circus.

One day in mid winter, I'm standing at the door when a guy walks over wearing a sheepskin coat.

"Hey," he said, "wanna buy a coat?"
I really liked it. "How much?"

"Ten bucks."
Ten bucks was a damned good price so I whipped out a ten dollar bill and paid him.

He then reached into the pockets, pulling a glove from each one.

"Oh here, how 'bout a dollar each?" 

"Yeah," I said, and gave him two more dollars.

He takes off the coat, hands me the gloves and walks up Cambridge St. in the bitter cold. At the time I was wearing an old, drafty jacket and that Sheepskin Coat was a life saver.
I wore it for years.
 
 
 
Closing time was 3 a.m. and I was required to take a dip stick reading and record the amount of gallons sold.
 
I would shut the lights, lock the door and sit down to do the math.
 
Invariably, someone would pull in desperate for gas and plead for "just a couple gallons."

What they didn't know was that once the Math was done we weren't supposed to pump anymore.
It would throw off the readings and alter the amount of Money made during the shift.

For a long time I obliged people, wearily turning the pumps back on, giving them gas and then having to redo the math.
 
It was frustrating and instead of being able to leave at 3:30 I was leaving at 4 a.m. 

I would trek across the Longfellow Bridge, winter winds lashing my face, sometimes stopping to look to the river below at jagged ice flows that had crashed together.

"Man, you don't wanna fall down there," I thought, "you'd be gone in a few seconds."

Like a Character in a Movie I'd stagger through the chill, a young man filled with dreams that didn't quite pan out but feeling Holy in the pre-dawn Boston Winter, reaching for Understanding and Deliverence but knowing I had to carry on whatever came my way.

Each night that I crossed it, I was always cognizant of the symbolism of the Bridge.......
 
I couldn't help it....it was the Mystic in me........



 

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