When I first met Ollie he was the enemy. Dennis and Donna Jean had just bought the Oyster Bar from Bob Burkhardt. The catch was Ollie still owned the building and he had no intention of selling. It would be years before he did and by then we were friends.
Ollie was famous for traveling the world and knowing every Beat poet that ever lived. His photos were incredible. I remember one that hung at
Ollie visited the studio Steve and I shared once. He decided he liked me when he noticed I was reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. We discovered we had the same birthday.
Years later I learned a party was being thrown for both of us at the Venice Cafe. This was before I worked there. I was already out on the town and got so distracted with my adventures I never did go.
When Becky and I took up skydiving Ollie decided he wanted to try. We were a little worried he had a death wish. We also weren’t sure if Ollie was over the weight limit. He was very large at the time.
The day he showed up to jump, Becky and I went up with him. I remember his huge round body climbing out on the step of the Cessna. He stepped off hanging from the wing’s strut. We put him out at 3,000 feet. This is about as low as you can exit safely. Ollie looked straight ahead into the wind. He never looked back for the signal to let go. I don’t know if he was in an ecstatic state or if he wanted to drag the whole plane down killing all of us. He wouldn’t let go. By the time we were at 1700 feet we had the pilot jerk the aircraft to shake him off.
I was a million miles away in my alternate suburban, married universe when Ollie died.
Valerie was at the library and found "Pictures of People" a book of photos by a friend of ours William Stage. He used to do the Street Talk byline in The Riverfront Times. We still see him every year at Dennis’ New Year’s party. I didn’t even know this book existed. There are several friends of mine in it including an old girl friend. Pics of Ollie (hat) and Dennis are from it. The Cessna we're getting into is the one Ollie jumped from.