Sunday, April 26, 2015

Early cowboy period

My thumbing adventures didn’t end with my 1964 NYC to Florida to Arizona hitchhiking odyssey. In early 1966 I I needed work more than school so when my buddy Jim Walters asked me to help him open his Village Inn Pizza Parlor franchise in Fort Lauderdale I jumped. Jim had been my boss at the original Village Inn in Tempe for a couple of years and we’d become good pals. He suggested that I meet him in Dayton, Ohio where he was training then we’d drive to Florida with his wife Sandy and their toddlers Jimmy and Michael.

I lacked dependable wheels at that particular moment. My grill deficient 1954 Oldsmobile with mismatched tires could barely make it from North Tempe to Tempe proper. That left me the option of hitchhiking east in a borrowed ASU letter jacket. My roommate at the time, the swashbuckling Vance Dernovitch, thought I’d have better luck masquerading as a jock than a hobo. He loaned me his basketball playing brother Rex’s jacket, a garment we had used to great effect in gin mills throughout the Valley of the Sun.

It took me three rides to get to the outskirts of Dayton where Jim picked me up. The first ride took me from the north side of Phoenix to Flagstaff where Pat Conley, an All-Big 10 linebacker at Purdue, took me to Fort Wayne with no stops. We traded driving shifts, had a quick beer and I got a ride to Dayton within ten minutes. Pat told me that he wouldn't have stopped but for the jacket with the big gold A.

The garment sure did the trick. I got from Phoenix to Dayton as fast as if I’d driven straight through in twenty some odd hours.

Alas I have no photographs to burnish the hitchhiking part of the tale but do have a photo taken by brother Dernovitch just after I returned to Tempe at Christmas of 1966.

We were shooting north of Phoenix when Vance caught me with the moustache that triggered a wagon train of trouble. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Denizens of the ditch

Last Saturday was spring cleaning on the Pacheco ditch (acequia) that flows from the Rio Pueblo south into Ranchos de Taos. This year, as last, the cleaning began at our new head gate and ended just behind the Immel hacienda. It took ten of us about four hours. Our annual effort keeps the cool mountain water flowing freely to each of our parcels along its serpentine path. Sometimes the work borders on backbreaking and other times, as this year, it’s a casual stroll through field and farm as you reconnect with vecinos (neighbors) you may not have seen since the last time you shoveled and raked.

I carried my pocketable Sony RX100 Mark II so I could grab shots of the work but wound up instead with headshots. One is of John Hall, once a textbook publisher in Cambridge and a former resident of Lincoln, MA as we are. John has been on my list of potential victims since I met him at our first cleaning eight years ago. The other is of the wired for sound Russell Droke.

Gentleman rancher John Hall

Russell "The Dervish" Droke

When I asked Russell if I could photograph him he said, “Why not. I’m used to it.” And now you know why.  He's got some mug on him.            

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Nunca as in never

Last summer I posted long exposures of the Martinez Hacienda. They were taken as I described then with a graduated neutral density filter which allowed exposures of up to thirty seconds in this instance. It's also the last time I used the handy device. The thing seems to lend volume to the images and make the texture of the adobe very pronounced and as such should be revisited. 

The dial an exposure filter at its most dense reaches does necessitate using a tripod and that's probably why it hasn't seen more use. Hate the darn things.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

My bags are packed. I'm ready to go.

My first hitchhiking adventures began with Eric Drake and I driving back to Cambridge to visit his older brother Peter at Harvard. On the way we visited Peggy in Salt Lake City for a couple of days. In SLC I opened for Hoyt Axton at a now nameless folk club. That’s a particularly vivid memory because the audience was so fixated on seeing Hoyt that they couldn’t wait to get me off the stage. The silence deafening. I'd never seen dead people smoke.

We took a tiny detour to Aspen on the way to back east. I auditioned for a gig at the Abbey, a noted music venue where Buffy St. Marie was headlining at the time. That didn't happen but I did do a one hour live set on Chicago radio a couple  of days later. It was in St. Louis that we bought a bottle of dreadful vino rosso which we quaffed with crusty Italian bread on East 77th Street in Manhattan. I was some worldly dude.             

Loading up in SLC for the drive to NYC and Cambridge. The Wasatch range looms in the background.

After New York, up to Cambridge and back to NYC Eric dropped me off in northern New Jersey and he headed back to Arizona. I stuck out my thumb and got to Florida with zero shuteye. However fast you can drive from NYC to Florida that's how long it took me. The first ride, a youngish couple, really wanted a driver so we didn’t stop till I was dropped off somewhere in the Carolinas and picked up by a moonshiner who right out of the box asked me, “Are you a drinkin’ man?” When I allowed that I was a jug of hooch appeared from under the seat. I took a 100% kerosene belt. 

The hillbilly left me in central Florida where in a matter of minutes another hillbilly named John Hatfield, a Hatfield and McCoys Hatfield according to him, coasted to a stop in his 1948 Jimmy. We drove straight to Ft. Lauderdale, hung out for the week and I hitchhiked back to Arizona. 

This is the 22 year old 6’, 159 pound me during spring break in Ft Lauderdale. The year was 1964.
With John Hatfield in Ft. Lauderdale

The hitchhike back to Arizona was not quite as direct as NYC to Florida although I got a promising start. From Ft. Lauderdale I got a ride with a Georgia Tech student and stayed the first night on campus in Atlanta. Even had burgers at the legendary Varsity drive-in where the all black carhops paid to work. "That's what I like about the south." in the words of the immortal comic and singer Phil Harris. That's sarcasm, by the way.

The next morning the student whose name I don’t remember delivered me to the highway west and warned me not to take rides from negros. "It just isn't done." he told me. 

I did pretty well till I found myself by the side of the road in West Memphis for the entire frigid night. If that wasn’t the coldest I’ve ever been it’s close. When I couldn’t get a ride west I took one with an elderly African-American gentleman who was heading to St. Joseph, Missouri. The irony isn't lost on me. It wasn’t remotely in the right direction but I would have ridden back to Jersey to with Hannibal Lecter if that’s what it took to get warm.