Saturday, August 15, 2009

The day I learned Mick Taylor quit The Stones

Valerie, the kids and I are heading to the country today. My good friend Marge is having a picnic. How an urban creature like Marge came to raise horses and live in the woods still knocks me a little off balance.
January 18, 1975, my 17th birthday, Marge, Annie, Pattie (Annie’s mom), Bob (Pattie’s boyfriend), and Alan (Bob’s son) took a drive into the country. Pattie was taking us to a country auction. We were in a van Bob had procured for the occasion. It was a beautiful sunny day and warm enough that I’d forgotten it was winter.
I’m not sure what station we were listening to but it must have been KSHE. I don’t think there were any other rock stations at the time. Mick Taylor’s resignation from the Rolling Stones was announced. I was stunned!
The auction was in a large barn. I couldn’t understand a word of the auctioneer’s calls. There was a giant pot of boiling hot dogs and ears of corn for everyone. Pattie bought an antique couch that unfolded into a bed for $2.00.
Instead of heading home we traveled deeper into the country. Pattie had friends who lived in the middle of nowhere. Their little house looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie nestled in a vast expanse of property. I don’t remember much about them except they had a chimp or at least a very large monkey. The house stunk and I was glad that Marge, Annie, Alan and I would be sleeping on the newly acquired bed outside. I remember a dazzling view of stars and uncontrollable laughter all night long.
The next morning, when I woke up, I couldn’t see anyone. We were literally covered in a blanket of snow. I could see smoke coming from the chimney of the little house. All I could think of was warmth. Who cared about the foul monkey smell!?
I don’t know how I pulled it off, and Marge always tells me how flawed my memories are, but I carried everyone together across the snow on my back to the house. I remember this same crew on my back as I steered a sled down Art Hill in Forest Park. Hyperventilation caused fits of laughter until we crashed at the bottom. I don’t remember laughing that hard since.
One night Marge, Annie and I were going somewhere from Annie’s house in the West End. Bob said he’d lend me his car if I knew how to drive a stick. I lied and said I did. Five blocks from the house I began to get the hang of it.
Bob sold that car to my mom. I used to borrow it every night when she tended bar at the Coach and Four Pub in Laclede Town. I was still living at home in Soulard. When I went to pick her up from work around 2:00am I was struck by a car load of 15 year olds that flew from an entrance ramp from highway 55 onto Russell. If it hadn’t been for a huge limo passing between them and me I’d be dead. I ended up wrapped around a signal light post. They had to pry me out. The kids were too young to even have driver’s licenses or insurance and suffered no consequences. My mother was without a car. Come to think of it so was I. I was a little sore for while too.
Years later a gay church in the West End let my band rehearse on their stage. Alan, now a young adult, was there at a service.
Time marches on.

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