One of my first real jobs in the early 70s was dishwashing at Duff’s Restaurant. I was turned onto the job by my buddy Dominic. The
Washington University/Barnes Hospital hadn’t bought all the property yet. I would end up having to move 4 times as they bought up apartments out from under me.
Dirty dishes were sent to the basement by dumbwaiter at Duff’s. It was a swamp down there. There was a huge walk-in cooler and employees would sneak in there to get stoned. I remember one dishwasher who worked totally naked except for a pair of fishing boots. The famous Bill Burgdorf washed dishes down there. He told me his book store had been raided because he sold the novel Candy. I never read it but the movie was pretty silly. Do they still ban certain books?
Bill and a small group of us were smoking a joint in the alley in back of the restaurant. I started talking about traveling four light years a second past stars. Someone else started talking about
My friend David Parker said, “He should be ashamed of himself. I would never be a dish washer at his age!”
I was watching a sermon given by Reverend Larry Rice late one night on TV. Parker was seated in the audience. Knowing David was atheist I could only guess he was fighting the good fight for the poor. I knew he had been politically active.
Speaking of Larry Rice, the City of
We were at a birthday party for a friend last summer and Parker’s name came up. Someone said he was in a jail in
My Christmas bonus was a gram of hash.
I can’t remember if I told this story. My manager was a gay warlock named Vance. The first time I met him he pulled a large kitchen knife on me and said, “Hey lover, how’d you like whisker burns on your butt hole?” We got to be great friends.
Dominic and I wrote our rock opera Webster Hangover in that basement. It opened with an instrumental called E Harmonics that was good enough to make it to our first LP. The guitar had to be tuned differently. I think John Steffen came up with it. He should have stayed in music!
One night I was dishwashing on acid and someone sent a rack filled with glasses down the dumbwaiter. They put the rack in upside down as a practical joke. When I pulled it out, glasses fell shattering everywhere. I lost it. “I’m not washing any more dishes,” I swore. My buddy Kent jumped in to take my place. From that day forward he worked there too.
As I left that night, I walked past a character standing in the darkness of a shop doorway. He was a very tall, very thin, black man dressed in a long purple coat with a purple hat that had a long feather. It was classic pimp drag of the day. He stood silently, looking knowingly at me. In my state I took it as some kind of omen.
Years later I would come to know him as Deaf Eddy. He was a really sweet guy who had gone to the Central Institute for the Deaf. It’s supposed to be one of the best Universities for the deaf.
He told me someone had pulled a knife and stabbed him that night.
I was bartending at the Broadway Oyster Bar one night in the 80s when an old girlfriend showed up with a bunch of her friends. They were really impressed that Eddy and I were having an intense conversation in sign language. Eddy taught me words like Busch, whiskey and fart. He told me there were bands he liked and bands he hated at the Oyster Bar. “How can you tell?” I asked. He could feel the vibrations of the music through the floorboards.
The last time I saw Eddy he was playing darts at 1860s Saloon in Soulard. His initials on the scoreboard were DE. Even he called himself Deaf Eddy.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of Eddy. The picture of my band Jon Cotton was taken in the early 70s at the time of my days at Duff’s. The band are Dominic, Benet, John Steffen, Jimmy Hill and me.