|Subject: Re: strawberry fields festival
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Date Posted: 11:00:19 05/31/04 Mon
In reply to:
's message, "Re: strawberry fields festival" on 19:00:19 05/22/04 Sat
My friend and I started out for Strawberry Fields and never made it. Greg's VW "Devil Bus" was giving us problems and we only made it to Acadia National Park. It was the first time I'd even been there and it was like a wonderland... especially since I had some acid. Here's an excerpt from a story I wrote. Note: we both called each other Charlzo...
FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 1970.......
The tone of the trip took a turn in Thomaston. The State Police Barracks was bad enough... (any cop was bad news but we really feared the jackbooted Staties.) I double-checked to make sure the pot was in easy reach. But what really put a chill into our outlook was the State Prison. Its drab, barbwire-topped, concrete walls were just a few hundred feet from the highway. The prison was tangible proof us how deadly serious the oppressive Power Structure was... and here we were, scofflaws in a strange land. It was not a thought we needed to fixate on.
By Rockland we were fully engulfed in Easy Rider paranoia. Suddenly the world seemed full of hostile rednecks... their eyes, narrowed with hostility, seem to track us as we drove by. Their collective hatred burned deep into our souls. "You're not welcome" they seemed to say, ".... not just in Vacationland... but in Amerika." Greg double-checked to make sure he knew where his knife was. It was a relief to get out of town... more that nobody seemed to be following us.
It was one thing to be paranoid about drugs... another to fear violent bigotry. True, Easy Rider took place in the Deep South, notorious for its social retardation and inbred thugs. But, the northeast was hardly an enlightened humanitarian haven. Just a few months before Hardhat construction workers went on a head-smashing spree, attacking anti-war demonstrators on Wall Street. Nixon and Agnew seemed to implicitly condone the violence, thus setting an ominous tone in the nation. Hell, why not? The Hardhats supported Nixon's Vietnam policy and their actions put a chill into the anti-war movement. Also, both Nixon and the Hardhats shared a common belief, that violence was a legitimate means to an end. Implicate in Nixon's doctrine was a belief that anyone who dared oppose Amerikan will deserved to die. Smashing the heads of hippies was just a minor variation on the grand theme.
In Camden the dread returned. The Devil could not have been the first VW bus they had seen, and it certainly wasn't painted with electric psychedelica. All that identified us as hippies was the small, tasteful, black peace sign painted in the VW logo on the front of the Bus. Yet, they seemed to know we didn't belong. Was it our out of state plates? Were they getting good looks at the two longhairs inside? It was as if they had X-ray eyes. They somehow just knew we were threats to them. If the sacred delusions that served as the foundations for their lives were to survive, we must die.
As we left town we had visions of fascist thugs pouring into their pickup trucks and chase cars in hot pursuit. At first they'd follow at a discreet distance biding their time. Then, on some dark, deserted stretch of US-1, they'd make their move. Soon after being run off the road, the Bus would be pumped full of shotgun rounds. As the gas tank exploded into a ball of flame they'd whoop it up... passing around the pork rinds and beer.
It was at times like this that I almost wished Greg was still a hot-rodder... that he hadn't traded his canary yellow '57 Chevy for the now seemingly all too conspicuous Devil Bus. Maybe we needed the social equivalent of protective coloration to better blend in with the local yokels.
As the sky darkened we were still over 100 miles away from Acadia. It was clear we were never going to make it. Greg was fading fast... having spent the last 9 hours hunched over the wheel. We had to worry where we were going to spend the night. Staying at a motel was never considered. We would have to find a campground. At least it might be safe there... both from the thugs and police.
Somewhere we stopped at the only campground we could find. We left in a huff. They had some ridiculous rules and we refused deal with them... like paying for a site with trailers hookups when all we had was a tent. (Or was it that tents weren't allowed? Maybe, given the similar aerodynamic lines, the Bus could pass for a self-propelled Airstream if had been painted sliver.) We left in a huff and continued north on the darkened highway. I dug out my flashlight and rechecked the map. There was roadside rest area in Northport.
The picnic area was there as the map promised... on a deserted stretch of road. It'd have to do. Greg was not up to anymore driving. Across the highway was a faded '40s era dance hall. If it was closed on what should have been a busy Friday night, then chances were that it was out of business.
Under normal circumstances being out in the middle of nowhere would be exactly what we wanted. But we also knew we were inviting and vulnerable targets. What if the thugs we suspected followed us from Camden weren't far behind? What of being busted for overnight parking. I popped the cap off my backpack frame, dug out the rest of our stash, and ventured out into the dark woods to hide it. We might get busted for trespassing, but not for possession.
We played a couple quick games of Rummy by flashlight before deciding to turn in. We didn't even bother to get stoned or try to pick up Jean Shepard on the radio. We knew that as tired as we were, it would not to be a night conducive to sleep. Our justifiable paranoia dictated that we sleep inside the Bus. That meant there were but two possible places, the rear bench seat and the floor. Greg graciously offered me the bench while he took the floor. At least I thought I was getting the better end of the deal. Ha!
As we prepared for the night we drew the curtains and double-checked the locks...
"Shit Charlzo, there's no lock on the right vent window. Remember?"
Greg looked up with some concern, "Guess we'll just have to close it tight and hope no one bothers to look too closely at it. What is it that Davey does? Sleeps with one eye open?"
I toyed with my new survival knife. It was hefty enough to punch though the hood of a car. It was the only source of comfort I had... besides not being alone. "I think I'll sleep with my knife tonight." It was this night that inspired the song "My friend and buddy in time of need... my knife, my knife".
During that fitful night we strained our ears to hear what was going on outside. Occasionally a lone car would drive by on the dark highway. Then another. Suddenly headlights pierced the dark announcing the arrival of a visitor. Greg and I bolted up to the windows and peeked out from behind the curtins.
"Oh great, they've stopped."
"Shit. Is it the cops?"
"No, don't think so... I think they’re just parking."
A half-hour later another car pulled in.
We waited for the muffled footsteps outside that would precede the assault. Dawn couldn't come soon enough.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 1970
The brightening sky over Penobscot Bay heralded the end of our ordeal. Soon, the weak, but protective, rays of the rising sun filtered through the dew-soaked trees into the picnic area. The dim light flickering against the Bus's smoke-scented curtains was sufficient to pierce the haze of my fitful sleep. My eyes popped open. I tried to move but felt petrified in place. It didn't matter. We were alive! The ax-wielding fascist thugs and highwaymen had their chance. So too did the Staties and local cops. It now was even too late to be busted for illegal overnight parking. Life was good! Sort of....
As I tried to turn and move my legs I was met by painful muscle cramps in every direction. Slowly I untangled myself from my sleeping bag. Once free, I painfully propped myself up on the back of the seat and peered out the rear window, then peeked out from the curtains on the side windows. One of the vehicles that had pulled in the night before was still there. It also was a VW bus... but a camper, hardly of such classic vintage as Greg's '64. Whoever they were they, too, obviously needed a place to spend the night. Maybe they had also been turned away at the inn: "Sorry, no trailer, no stay night." If we had known they were friendly, we could have pulled our wagons into a circle.
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