Saturday, July 31, 2010

When Money Was Unnecessary

There’s a period of time when you’re coming of age and money simply doesn’t matter.

When I was fifteen my friend Mark Gray and I hitchhiked from our place in Soulard to a pinball arcade at the edge of “The Hill” called the Electric Palace. Mark was three years younger than I was.

If we went with one quarter between us we’d rack up ten games on a machine, sell the game to some one for fifty cents, rack up games on separate machines and actually come home with money.

Mark got really good at Foosball. I’d back him up on a team and we did a little hustling that way too.

About a year later several of my friends and I hitched to Indiana to see Jethro Tull. None us had any money. I just broke up with my girlfriend Pam. She hitched there with my buddy Dominic and I traveled with Mark and my new girlfriend Sue. Not only did we all get in but Pam and Dominic ran into the band at a Holiday Inn where they were playing pool. They got guest passes.

We went to all the shows and midnight flicks and never had a cent.

I hitched to Camdenton Missouri for a three day rock festival with three friends. It amazes me that anyone would pick up four large, scruffy, long haired guys but we got there fast. We had no money and still had no trouble getting in. No one there had money and I remember a near riot incident when a snack truck was rolled by the mob. There were no toilet facilities either.

The night before the gate opened Camdenton, population 10,000, turned into a hippie city of 25,000. People kept asking, "Where's Dave?" "I'm Dave!" I responded. Later I learned this was how people asked if you had acid.

Dominic and I hitched to the east coast with two dollars between us. I remember one blustery, overcast autumn morning walking around a deserted New Jersey boardwalk carnival. I had one dime in my pocket. There was a crane game filled with packs of cigarettes that cost a dime a try. The universe was with us and Dominic and I had cigarettes that day.

Most of the girls we hung out with were from wealthy families and went to private Catholic schools. We were surrounded by money but unfortunately never got sucked in.

I was shooting pool at Saratoga Lanes in Maplewood with one of these girls one night. “You know what I always hated about you and your friend Annie.” she said. “You’re so anti money.” I never thought of myself that way. I won’t mention her name but I still consider her one of the great loves of my life.

Like my buddy Tony Patti said, “All the kids went off to ivy league schools while we stayed home washing dishes in restaurants.”

Pic is Sue, Mark and me about to embark on our trip to Indiana to see Jethro Tull.

1 comment:

peter holtz said...

hey david, thanks for your blog. even kids who went off to college (not ivy league) remember the days when you did not need much money to get by. it cost $5 to see the grateful dead and 35 cents for a gallon of gas. for a dollar you could cruise for hours. when i lived in italy in the early 80's my rent in a shared appartment was $35 per month and it wasn't hard to get by on $200 for the month which didn't seem too hard to come by. i didn't own much and i certainly did not have a credit card to tempt me into spending. which changed in the 90's. i remember having $13,000.00 in credit card debt when i finished graduate school with child and a wife...............