Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Hallow's Eve

Sometimes the spookiest scenes aren't from some Hollywood horror film, but just a vintage photograph from the reality of the past, such as this one of someone's halloween in the 1950s.

That was my Trick or Treat period, those early '"50s in Downingtown, inventing a costume from whatever bits and pieces could be scrounged up about the house and then prowling the dark and chill dark knocking on stranger's doors and demanding treats.

They held an annual parade seven miles south in the county seat, which was West Chester. I marched
in that procession in 1951 and won Third Place as Mr. Peanut. My grandmother created my get-up out of cardboard and a potato sack. The cane was one won at a local carnival one summer and the leggings were a pair of my Grandfather's Long John dyed black. The photo is me receiving my prize. I believe it was $5.00. Five dollars was a lot of money in 1951, especially to a ten-year old kid.

I saw a lot of those classic Universal Horror films at the Roosevelt Theater, located on Brandywine Avenue, which followed along the creek of the same name. Those films had a great deal of power upon one way back then and even if I went to the Saturday matinee, as I usually did, it was still always dark out when the show ended during the winter months. I lived almost all the way to the other end of Washington Avenue from the theater and that street tended to be full of shadows if it had any light at all. I would run home or at least as far and fast as I could until my side hurt.

We never stop learning new things in life, or shouldn't. One thing I learned this week was how recent this whole trick or treat business is as I knew it as a child and to this day. It is lest than 80 years a tradition, the first mention of it in a newspaper appearing in 1939. It was created to stem the growing violence of the Holiday. People, especially teenagers, were causing increasing expense damage during the 1930s, burning building, letting livestock loose and worse. Some lady decided to throw her home open and have treats laid out for the kids and she received no nasty tricks that year and thus a new tradition was born. Of course, in more modern times it seems a good bit of the violence and nastiness is returning.

Costumes aren't as much homemade these days either. It is big business now. Today's disguises aren't as politically incorrect as the one I am wearing in the picture on the left in 1957. The witch to my right (your left) was my grandmother and the tough guy to my other side was my mother. Except for the masks everything is homemade.

A couple hours ago I watched the 1931 version of Dracula with Bela Lugosi. That film was pretty scary when it came out, but it a far cry from what you see in horror movies now. For one thing, in a movie about a bloodsucker, you only see one drop of blood in the whole film when Renfield (Dwight Frye) cuts his fingertip while eating at Dracula's castle.

Here is another new fact I learned just today.

In the movie Renfield is a real estate agent bringing a lease to Count Dracula. The Count eventually bends down over the sleeping agent and turns him into a fly eating slave. The scene where Lugosi leans over Enfield totally upset the suits in the production office, who issued a dictate that Dracula was not to assault any males, only females. They feared the homoerotic implications.

Like the lack of blood, there are no overt sexual scenes in the film; however, there is a good deal of eroticism present. The scenes of Lugosi stretching over Lucy or Nina to bite their neck are very suggestive, even though we never see his lips actually touch their skin.  These are rather frightening images as well.

Today we would see his fangs pierce the skin and trickles of blood and in the final scenes where Van Helsing hammers a stake through Dracula's heart there would be a gusher of red shooting up. Instead here the camera wanders away from the action and we only hear the sound of the pounding and Dracula's screams.

I don't dress up for the holiday anymore; really, don't celebrate it at all. The last time I donned any masks was during my tenure at Wilmington Trust. We often dressed up for Halloween and had a little party. Below are my appearances in those days.








I went from Mr. Peanut to an M&M.















I came this year as the World's Ugliest Playboy Bunny.

Aren't you glad it wasn't the centerfold?











I was the Phantom of the Opera during the period I was on steroids for my Graves Disease. The disease mad my eyes pop out of my head and the steroids made my face swell up, so I wa
s pretty much hideous like Erik. This customer caused one of my fellow managers totally freak out.

Oh, I still had a mask on in the photo on the right. My face was bad, but not that bad.


Anyway, hope you are having a perfectly haunting Halloween and watch out for all those calories!







Thursday, October 29, 2015

To the Two Ends of Dreams


Frank once lived not far from Claire Square.

When Frank came to the city Claire Square was a no-man’s-land between two dissimilar worlds. East, down to the river, was academia, with its mix of sterile modern architecture, ornate Victorian buildings and clean stone pre-Revolutionary structures. The Franklin Dorms stood like a triangular fortress at the campus edge, looking to the West where the beautiful brick homes of a century earlier were now crowded, cramped claptrap apartments of more recent and humbler occupants. (From "Community Park", 1974)


I used to live not far from Clark Park, which of course is on what I based "Claire Square". That is the park in the picture above. I don't know who took the photograph, but it was taken very near to where I was entrenched at that time. "Community Park" is from a collection of stories I wrote called  Keep All the Animals Warm and all the tales within were inspired from instances of my life that happened when I worked and lived in Philadelphia during the mid 1960s to early 1970s. These are my favorite stories, even though I've never sold a one or seen any in print. These are not the only semi-autobiographical pieces I've written; I've penned a lot of those, but perhaps it was a fondest for the period when  I was selling and publishing regularly. (The picture on the right is of the original cover design, and yes, that is me sitting in a lotus position in the bottom corner. It is how I looked. The picture on the right is a later cover design for the book.) The book title came from a lyric in Leonard Cohen's song, "Stories of the Street." That was going to be the original title, but then I decided the lyric was a better choice. Yes, my tales could be called stories of the street, but winter was a constant motif within them, thus Keep the Animals Warm.

City streets in the winter
Breathtaking cold
Wind at every corner
Chills the spine;
Seizes the neck.
Everything freezes.
Face one long sting.
Feet numb and
Foreign to the body.
City streets in the winter
Are not for leisurely walks.

Walking was always with a purpose.



And what I wrote about most were ‘sixties’ winters...


Lately I have had an attack of nostalgia for those days, not that my life was better then, for it wasn't. I think it has something to do with the coming of another winter and the beginning of the winter of my life. I know how this all may sound. I have tried to avoid sounding depressed, because I'm not. It is hard to explain. Maybe people who reach my age would understand and those younger won't. In a couple months I will be halfway through my 75th year and you know when your birthday comes it is the end of the year you are celebrating, not the beginning. The day after you've puffed out the candles on your cake you start your next annual walk, and on that day I will begin my 76th one on this earth. By all accounts I will be considered elderly. Don't give me the "you're only as old as you feel" stuff. At this age you feel old a lot of the time. I'm not trying to be maudlin, I'm trying to be honest. I don't sit around and pout about it or give in to it or think about the grim reaper lurking around some corner. But for some reason this season I did notice how quickly years pass and the last 14 since I left Wilmington Trust seem like something that happened only a few months ago, not nearly a decade and a half gone by. Another decade and a half and I'll quickly be 85.

You see here the reality of life: when I lived not far from Clark Park I was a young man who saw his dreams beginning to come true; now I'm an old man waking from his dreams. It is the two ends of dreams, the beginnings and the ends.

She says, "I love the rain," her breath rising with every raindrop that patters on the grass. This girl sits smiling, sheltered beneath leaves. "I loved your story," her words laughing with the rain dripping and staining the papers she holds, “is it finished?”

The old man taps his cane in the fading green park, scattering the birds, and even tiny feathers don't flutter back in the still wind of his memory. He taps his cane. The paint is peeling from its shaft. The rubber tip has worn away against the concrete walkways. It echoes hollowly in the trees loosening her voice in the thick branches. "Is this how it ends?" 


A sudden cold breeze blows the papers from her and her words carry softly through the setting sunlight of evening and the spreading comforter of night, through soft lips on soft pillows in the long soft evenings of long spring sprinkles, through the short summer storms, through the soft leaf falls in autumn, through the soft snows of winter.

But a hard, cold breeze has the question and he doesn't answer.


And the old man taps his cane in Rittenhouse Square and has nothing to chase after. (From "Cold", 1965)

Rittenhouse Square was a regular gathering place for my posse. The focal point was a fountain and basin at its center. When evening settled in so did the diverse denizens of the streets, drifting in over the course of hours resting between comings and goings of whatever activities occupied the night. The times often began somewhat festive, but tended to turn desperate in the late hours.

I met Lady Train one winter-gray afternoon in Rittenhouse Square, where street people and business suits mingled by the center fountain. In summer, water geysers from a face’s mouth above stone toads and dragonflies, but in late fall it is dormant with a basin full of brittle leaves, waxy and auburn. A harsh wind blew us to where the debris and litter gathers. Heads tucked into collars and eyes cast down, we collided and words begun in hasty apology turned to casual conversation that grew to conspiracy...We made a pack to live for our art; but in order to live one must eat. When we had some nickels, we fed among the pigeons on peanuts bought from a pretzel man, who kept a little wagon on the corner near The Square. When we had no nickels, we panhandled from lunchtime suits in all but the
harshest weather. On severe days even the pretzel man wasn’t there. In those stark hours we went hungry...Once in center city near the smaller river were narrow streets with bright orange sidewalks lined with psychedelic shops selling recycled clothes, candles, bells, books and beads, and your fortune, toke pipes, posters and pins. There were peep shows up dimly lit stairs off Walnut where old-time nickelodeons showed strip teasers who stopped short of indecency until you dropped another coin. Scattered here and there were places for poets. Coffee shops with names like Trauma, Kaleidoscope and Howl. This was before it all evolved into boutiques and became just another overpriced mall. (From "Pome Penyeach", 1969)




In the park in the dark passing shadows
Change with the changing hour and the seasons.
In ragged second store dress,
Stocking runs, bell-bottom denim, dour
Pea Jacket blue. The men who love men; Druggies on their prowls;
Hippie girls with flowers in their tresses;
Poets and writers and actors and pals adding to

The bowers where my words grew. (Excerpt from "In the City of Change" by Larry Eugene Meredith, published in Prints, June 2004, e. jean lanyon, Beverly Andrus, Sreven Leach, Joe Allen editors.)


I am getting ahead of myself. I need to go back to the beginning: "I used to live not far from Claire Square..."; that is, we lived not far from Clark Park, Lois and I. We were rebuilding our lives together. The mid-'60s had not been particularly kind to us. We had lost the first of our babies, Sean, traumatically; lost our first home, lost our way and lost each other.
After a period of separation we cautiously came back together and moved into the city. Lois took a job in the Chemistry Department of the University of Pennsylvania. I had quit my job at ARCo, where I had worked for ten years and, with the exception of a part time job welding bubblegum at Philadelphia Gum, was working as a freelance writer. This was hardly paying for even our $90 a month studio apartment in The Commodore on Chester Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets.  Still we moved in one midnight lock, stock, typewriter, hamster and iguana.


It seemed appropriate for a Hippie writer to live among such an eclectic collection of neighbors, the druggie couple down the hall, the prostitute living upstairs and the Black Panthers holding meetings in the lobby. The only occupants I couldn't stand were the hoards of cockroaches that tapped-tapped about us in the dark of night.

Jeannette and Frank had a crumbling apartment in an area across the river from downtown. On Saturday, they walked over the bridge going to a Tim Buckley concert at the Trauma, a coffee house in the art district.

It was late evening. The streets were dark and cold, but filled with people. The city was that way. You could walk the avenues anytime in the safety of a crowd. There were students milling about the university quadrangles along their route and once across the river they picked up the street people, shivering in their second-hand clothes, riding the highs of their nightly carnival.


Frank and Jeannette left the freak streets and passed along the mainstream shops. Frank wore a tan jacket and a brown cap pulled down hiding his long hair. Jeannette’s head was bare, except for earmuffs, which amplified her delicate face. Her flowing hair flipped and flapped behind her, riding the bronco of city breezes. The streetlamps made her blue eyes sparkle in the night like opals. Even in the winter chill, her long legs graced the world.


A cop stood directing the Saturday night traffic with the aplomb of a conductor on a podium. He 
smiled at them crossing the street, tipping his cap to Jeannette, giving a little bow.

The Trauma was one of the brew of coffee shops percolating across the city since the beginning of the folk movement. Some were vestiges of Beatnik days, where readings of angst poetry to the beat of bongos or the improvisations of jazz quartets continued. The Trauma was half-cafĂ© half-theater, where a who’s-who of soon-to-be-known or soon-to-be forgotten folksingers paraded across stage. Andy Anderson, Steve Gillette, Elizabeth, Mandrake Memorial, Jim Kweskin & the Jug Bank with Maria Muldaur before she went solo, had all appeared. Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger had drifted through. Dylan was playing in convention halls by this time.

They stood in a line from the street corner to the door. A group ahead wore the russet colors of an outlaw motorcycle club with heavy shirts under sleeveless denim jackets. (From "Pieces of '71 or Why There Will Never be Peace", 1971)


There were two things already established in my life by the time we moved to University City.  One was I had built something of a writing career. I had won a runner-up prize in the 1961 Writer's Digest Short Fiction Contest for a war story, "Soldier. Soldier" and then I began ghostwriting papers for college students. I was getting A's at La Salle College and St. Joseph University well before I started going to evening school at Temple in 1963.

In 1966 I met Bob O'Kane, who as it happened, was the editor of "The Communicator", the student newspaper of the Community College of Philadelphia. I began going to lunch with him, often arguing Philosophy and Politics. He began to complain he couldn't find enough decent writing at the college to fill the paper. (The Community College had only began in 1965, so maybe the ranks were still rather thin.) I offered my services and began a series of articles in that publication. I couldn't use my name because contributors were limited to students of the school, which I was not, thus I became "Loop". "Loop" came from a nickname I was given by a fellow worker at Atlantic. Lawrence Welk was a popular TV show and one of the regular performers was a deep-voiced singer named Larry Hooper. This fellow began calling me"Larry Looper" and it stuck, but quickly became just "Loop".

I considered myself a literary mercenary in those days. never mind my own convictions, I was a gunslinger for hire and would write whatever I thought the market would buy. Personally I was protesting the war, would be on the Pollution Trail bus on the first Earth Day and an active Atheist. I was a registered Democrat, but frankly, I was far to the left of that party during the 'sixties. I didn't take drugs, even though there was drug use all about my environs. My resistance had nothing to do with morals, but with pride and arrogance. I felt my mind was too good to risk taking something that might alter it. As a ghostwriter I had written critiques of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Death of a Salesman and Our Town. I had done papers on the humor of James Thurber and the poetry of Bob Dylan. I had written serious treatments on T. S. Lawrence and the pillars of Islam as well as an examination of "The Executive and the Federalist Papers" But what should I write in a college newspaper that might stir things up.

I considered what were the hot buttons with students and decided for the most part they were anti-war, pro-drug and anti-God. Therefore I wrote essays for "The Communicator" attacking drug use, ("A Work in Needlepoint") supporting the soldiers fighting in Vietnam ("Be a Man, My Son") and for God not being dead (God is Dead was a popular declaration at the time). It worked just fine, there was a lot of reaction to my pieces and Bob couldn't be happier, except maybe about the "God Resurrected" essay. That one made him uneasy. "I don't think writers make good theologians," he told me.

{Frank} rode the subway to college with Jain, a painter who studied at the University of the Arts. Her
home was in the north near the campus. Frank let Jain read his manuscripts. His classes started at 6:30 and the rush hour trains were always packed and tonight they had to stand, pressed together by the crowd. 
           ***
“You still writing?”

He nodded. “When I can.”


"That good, man, but you should be writing more and not puttin' all you time into a desk job."


"Well," he answered, parroting a lifetime of adult advice, "you have to have something to fall back on in case."


"In case what? In case you live forever? You spend a lifetime doing what you hate you end up hating life and bein’ alone. You all ready alone. What you got to do is step out and trust you talent."


I trust my talent, he thought, but I 'm still afraid to step out cold. (From "Cold", 1965)


My ghostwriting had a side benefit of introducing me to others who were also pursuing a more creative field of endeavor. One of those was Jane, whose name I so cleverly disguised in my story as "Jain" (she is pictured left). No one would ever figure that one out. It is part of the Superman school of incognito; slap on a pair of glasses and no one will know who Clark Kent really is. Jane really was studying at the University of the Arts, located between Delancy and Pine a block away from where we both had our day jobs at Atlantic. Since I was going to Temple and she lived near that section of North Philly, we often rode the Broad Street Subway together after work.

We were very close and shared our lot in life with each other, cried on each other's shoulder and fanned each other's creative fires. I was married and she had a boyfriend, so we just remained good friends.


She was a slim woman, about the same girth as Jeannette, but not as tall, a small woman actually. Her face was round, cheekbones smooth as finely polished wood, her skin the color of coffee with a tad bit of cream added. Her eyes were large, the brown irises islands completely surrounded by white seas, eyes burning with energy, intelligence and deep anger. You could see a flame behind the pupil, like the pilot light of a stove.

Her boyfriend was a photographer. He published photos in the underground press. It was Jain who had talked Frank into writing for the same magazines. Her boyfriend was gone. She said he had gone to Cuba.


They rode the subway together. Frank because he was going to classes, Jain because she was going home and lived in an area where blue-eyed Frank would become a white island in a brown sea.


They came to a corner where a policeman was directing traffic, waving his arms like a frantic air raid warren guiding human targets to the nearest shelter. As they crossed the street he watched them, his eyes slits, eyebrows angry, and mouth clamped in a sneer. Jain stared straight ahead, but Frank turned his head and looked. The cop mouthed something Frank could not hear.  (From "Pieces of '71 or Why There Will never be Peace", 1971) [Photo on the right by Carlton Matthews, 1968, this was Jane's boyfriend's work.]


I don't know if you caught how earlier I described a similar scene with this cop when Frank walked with Jeannette and the cop smiled and tipped his hat. These were actual instances involving the same cop. The difference being he was friendly when I passed him by with my white wife; not so much when I crossed his path with my black friend Jane. It was a time of great racial tension and many people seeing Jane and I out strolling assumed we were a couple and their reaction mirrored that of the cop. This worked the same no matter what race the crowd was. The skin color changed from the center city streets to the subway aisles, but the expression of judgment remained the same. Prejudice is a two-way street, which doesn't make it right, just doubly wrong.

Jane very much wanted me to move to New York and simply write. My excuse was one had to hold a day job to support one's family. So she took me to a chaotic room in the basement of some building on Race Street and introduced me to people publishing magazines in the Underground Press and I began writing under the name "Eugene Lawrence".


Everywhere you turned you had the [bleep] kids all with ribs showing and with dirt across their cheeks which were sunk-in until their teeth showed in outline and their eyes were burning and seemed ready to tumble out and the sight made you toss at night in nightmares where you watched the naked children playing in the potholes in the
streets     playing marbles and each one blind because the marbles they used were their fallen eyeballs round and glistening white with dark brown   black staring spots in the middle and little tags of dirt from the filthy road sticking there as they do to the underbellies of earthworms.(From "A Poem to the Boys on the Flat", by Eugene Lawrence, Psychedelphia Period #4, January 1968, Mitch Gilbert, editor.)

I suppose one could call it irony that not long after "A Poem to the Boys on the Flat" was published Jane and I both had major life changes. My wife and I separated and I did quit my day job and become a full-time writer. Jane's boyfriend fled to Cuba. Her own anger continued to grow and she intended to follow him. I do not know what ever happened to Jane. Perhaps she did make good on her threat to denounce her American citizenship and follow her boyfriend to Havana. I, of course, reunited with my wife (called Jennette in my stories) and got another day job.


Knight Newspapers owned the Philadelphia Daily News and The Inquirer back then. I wrote some promotional copy for them, two print ads ("They Say the World's Grown Smaller" & "Doubter") and two radio commercials ("Where Were You last Night?" & "Importance of Time"), but they didn't hire me on full-time, which was probably a good thing. But in July 1969 North American Publishing Company hired me as Circulation Manager of two of their flagship publications, "Bestsellers" and "Media & Methods". Ever looking for an opportunity to write, I argued them into also letting me do Book Reviews in their international educational magazine, "Media & Methods".

Okay, so maybe this is a step up from being a ghostwriter for

college students cheating their way through school, the profane and angry Underground Press and a ringer for a community collage rag; after all, "Media & Methods" was a prestige publication with a large worldwide circulation. It went to just about every English, Humanities and History professor of every English speaking university on the planet, and here I was, someone with no degree, writing teaching aids of those guys.

Still, I might have my name on the masthead as Circulation Manager, but I had no byline on my reviews. They were anonymous. So I had an ongoing writing career as a ghost behind someone else's name, as "Eugene Lawrence", "Loop" or ...or no name at all!   


          
I had come a long way from my country bumpkin teen years, hadn't I? Now I was either slumped over a typewriter pecking away or wandering the varied avenues of Philadelphia looking for writing assignments or inspiration. As Leonard Cohen had written, "The stories of the street are mine." The other side of a wanderer through wonderland came from another voice I always associate with those days, The Doors: "People are strange when you're a stranger/ Faces look ugly when you're alone."

I walked all those streets of strange people and used them in my stories.

Roger was beyond the first-run theaters, with the dissipated, where one-dollar-gets-you-in all-night porno houses stood. The marquees were dull, every third bulb burned out. No seasonal decorations trimmed the ticket booth. Teaser ads lined the front, ragged edges flapping in a draft. “XXX Girls, Live Girls, Topless Girls, Bottomless Girls, Bottomless Girls and Bottomless Boys, Bottomless Boys”, a bottomless pit of smut. Some sailors stuck in town for the holidays drifted by gawking at the posters. A tangle of teenage boys squirmed at a ticket window, giggling and shoving, flashing phony ID cards. Old men with newspapers folded underarm slithered through the lobby doors.
Roger paused and fingered the paper in his pocket.

The wind kicked up and swirled old napkins and waxed papers about his ankles. The reek of grease and deep-fried chicken danced on the breeze. It began to sprinkle. A heavy-set man bumped him, splashing coffee over his coat. “’Cuse me”, mumbled the man through a full mouth as he lumbered away. Roger slipped off the curb, foot crunching through ice. His shoe went wet to the sock. A passing bus sprayed him with a chill mush of snow and water. (From "Seeking the Seventh Circle", 1962)

My old friends had disappeared from my life after high school scattering out in pursuit of life. Ronald had gone off into the Army and he had served his hitch, but just after he and I reconnected we had a falling out from naiveté and sensitivity.

 Roger paused. "You're cup’s empty. You wanna refill?"
Frank shook his head.
Roger glanced at Jeannette.
"Maybe a little tea," she said. "Just to warm things up."
Roger filled her cup, the spout of the pot rattled against the rim.
"But, Frank..."
Frank looked at his hands resting on his lap.
"…I felt comfortable there. I mean I just felt...I don't know. I just felt really comfortable."
Frank was not listening. He was thinking about East Market Street .The famous department stores had all closed. He could remember seeing those buildings standing dark and empty last Christmas. He missed the decorations and the mechanical displays. It was funny how things from your childhood change and could never be the way they were again.
He already felt the lost. (From "Tea and Coffee", 1963)

The year I had blown my relationship with my boyhood best friend was also the year I began going to Temple at night. Sometimes I rode the subway north with Jane, but often I walked to the campus from downtown. I didn't walk back after classes when it was dark. These were mean streets in those days and no one wanted to be caught alone on them at night. I hurried with the crowd to the Columbia Avenue subway stop (Now Cecil B. Moore Avenue). 


Students hurried to the steps of the underground. The rain followed, splashing after them, washing the stair walls, dank and dirty. Students clamored down steps to a landing, turned a corner, down further to a corridor dimly lit, smelling of urine and raging with echoes of distant trains and surface
traffic. Ahead was a dark green booth with a heavy locked door, bulletproof window, squeaky turnstiles and grumpy cashier, but before all was the man on his crutch.

He was there every night. A big man with a tiny head like a raisin wrinkled and dried out. He leaned partially against the wall and partially upon a wooden crutch. This prop had a rag tied around the top to cushion it against his underarm. He squinted up the stairs at the arriving students, his eyes popping from his face. The whites were yellow and flecked with red veins. His nose was broad and unnaturally flattened from age and old battles. He had no chin. His lower lip covered his upper lip almost to his nose. He was completely bald. There was a whitish scar across the purplish skin of his forehead back to his right ear. He was tall and broad at the shoulders, although his clothing hung loose and baggy. He wore an old army coat and as tall as he was the coat still swept dust and cigarette butts on the ground with its tails. The pockets bulged. (From "Subway Stop", 1964)

As I mentioned, I found others who were seeking fame and fortune in the creative arts as was I and we became constant companions, talking about out bright futures, discussing our immediate projects or figuring out if Paul was really dead (and you had to be there to understand that reference). 


They met in coffee shops or Hippie stores on Lombard and Sansom Streets. They would hang about Rittenhouse Square during late evening. Sometimes, like tonight, they gathered in Jim’s walk-up room on Locust just off Camac. They talked about seeking their muse. Doreen and Douglas wanted to be actors, Tenley a poet and painter. Jim talked of forming a band with James called the James Brothers. He would write the music and James would write the words. James would just shrug. Only Diane and Rob had no interest in artistic careers. Diane wanted to be James’ wife. Rob was Frank's best friend just trying to avoid the Vietnam draft. Frank was not there.
Jim’s room was not large. There was one decoration, a fading poster saying Community Park – Peace and Love. There was a window. Against the back wall was an upright piano further shortening the space. There was a row of record albums and stereo along a wall.
The furniture was battered and mismatched.

They sprawled in a loose circle around a chipped low-legged table of stained wood upon which sat an unmatched group of glasses, cups, and varied highs of choice. (From "Singing in the Street, 1966)

We actually did gather at Jim's place, but it wasn't at Locust off Camac nor a walkup room. We met in the basement of his home on South Carlisle Street, which is between Broad and 15th, not too distant from South Street. His basement was as described.

Jim (pictured left) was a writer and the editor of a German language magazine, "Der Spiegel". He was also a composer wanna-be and it was his idea to form a group, but not with James and not called The James Brothers. The idea was that Jim would compose the music, but I would write the lyrics and we decided on the name "Ethereal" for the group. Lois was to be the lead singer and she would wear these thin dresses and have the audience guessing if she wore anything underneath. 

So the James in this particular story was one of those writer illusions, a combination character that is constructed from more than one person, including the author. There was a real Diane in our group and she was a writer, not anyone named James' girlfriend. (Diane is pictured right.)

One must remember a writer basis fiction on the experiences of his or her life, taking the people known and the realities of each day and twisting them into a fabric aimed toward illuminating a greater truth about the human condition. The characters in my stories might be reflections of real people, but the characters are not the persons. They are fabrications manipulated by the author for plot and story purposes. The tales within "Keep All the Animals Warm" are fiction based on facts and it is how it was once even if not exactly in the same way. These stories mean so much to me because they are so close to autobiographical, some more than others, but this was my world as a young scribbler.



Along with the excerpt following are photos of the gang of the then youthful, hopeful artists we were, the people who passed through Jim's basement den, stood the watches in Rittenhouse Square, breathed the pot-infused air at the Trauma, Kaleidoscope (the remains of which are pictured on the left, the first place I came across with co-ed rest rooms long before such things became news) , Main Point, Second Fret or what ever little corners we gathered in to report our latest poem, painting, play.



The concourse was gray, a place of sudden shadows, its barren walls distinguished by cracks, old stains and graffiti. The pavement
puddled with shallow pools glistening in the yellow lights. Near the main connection, where the East-West Elevated joined the North-South Subway, shops and fast food joints formed a placid island in the midst of this morass. Here they found a hot dog stand. It was a modest indentation in one wall, with no sit-down tables, only waist high shelves where customers could stand and eat.
"H-h-here," she said. It was her turn to pull a hand from a pocket and hold it out. He saw crumpled bills poking between her tiny fingers. He wasn’t surprised. "I'll b-b-buy," she said.
He took some money and bought two hot dogs, two fries and some coffee. He gave her back the change and she snatched it away.
They stood huddling at one of the stand-up shelves. Wisps of steam drifted from the paper plates of crispy fries. His mouth was watering. He took a large bite of a hot dog, chewed with deliberation, savoring it, making it last. He chomped off a second bite. His dog was half gone in two bites. He looked at her. She picked at her bun; bit off a half of one French fry.

"I thought you were hungry?" he said. (From "By the Dim Lake of Auber", 1967) [Pictured on right is Thelma.]

I spent a lot time in those gray concourses or riding those trains. We were low on funds often, especially in those Hippie days when I earned pittances with my words. I resorted to wandering from corner gutter to corner gutter where the trollies stopped, searching for dropped change. Lunches were quite regularly a bag of soft pretzels from some sidewalk vendor. It was a quarter for a bag; a bag was three Philly pretzels. I still have a habit of eating pretzels for lunch (every Sunday), although I haven't had to search the streets to fund my purchase lately. The pretzels are 10 times the cost now at $2.50 for three.








Jerry                                       Jeff



"Sorry to startle you," he said. "Just wanted to shake your hand. I'm up for re-election as your mayor, as I'm sure you know. I hope I can count on you to help me."
Cleon wiped his palm on his great coat and shook the waiting hand.
"You got any concerns about our fair city, you just tell me. I'm interested in what the people want."
The man behind the mayor nodded his head, prodding Cleon to make some request.
"Well, sir, ah...ah could use a job. You see..."
"Jobs,” shouted the mayor. "Jobs have always been top priority with my administration. Yes, sir, I'm sure you can appreciate..." but he was not addressing Cleon any longer. He held fast to Cleon's hand but spoke over his head to the others in the hamburger stand. "...how many jobs we created right here on this block with my support in developing this wonderful shopping mall. These shops created dozens of jobs for our young people. The unemployment of young Blacks in this neighborhood was epidemic, but now look around at all these young faces that have useful employment."
The man behind the mayor looked at Cleon, “That right, isn’t it, bro. You see that?”
All this time the mayor pumped his hand. Now he dropped it and turned to another table. The mayor wiped his hand on the side of his trousers.
"Hello, friend," he called, as he moved away from Cleon.   This man stood. He was tall, thin, with slightly graying hair and slightly graying beard. The man wore a suit. Cleon guessed this was a professor at the university bordering the new mall. The mayor gripped the man's hand with both of his own. "And what may you wish?"
"I hope you'll do something about these people living off our taxes."

"Yes," said the mayor. "Well, I'll tell you my stand. If they can walk to the welfare office, they can walk just as easily to an employment office and get a job." He dropped the new hand and turned in an all encompassing way, waving both arms above his head. "I hope you folks make the right decision," he shouted and was quickly gone from the place. (From "Cleon Jefferson's Decision", 1968) [Photos of our University City Apartment. That's the kitchen after we cleaned and painted it.]


She saw the painting lying on the ground with the flames licking at the canvas, with the brown hole growing larger in its center. She saw the gray melt in the heat and she watched again as Noirblanc disappeared forever. She heard him mutter how no one ever understood, how everyone misinterpreted. Mix black and white and you get gray. Mix black and white and get gray. How they misunderstood what he meant by that. He was happy when it didn't sell. It didn't sell at two hundred and fifty. It didn't sell at one hundred. It didn't sell at fifty. It left the art shop window for the shop interior and then the dealer called and said they should take it home, and they took it home.
She learned about consignment then. Buck had set the price and paid a fee to display it in the
shop, and if it had sold, the shop owner would have taken half. But it didn't sell.

He carried it with them everywhere they went. Then one night he took it out to the middle of the street and he burned it. He walked away through the smoke and that was the last she ever saw of him for a long, long time. (From "Noirblanc", 1970) [Photo of Maureen and Michael, actors.]

This has become long and rambling, I know, but my life has been long and rambling. The so called Love Decade was certainly slow, long and rambling and twisty. "Love and Peace", indeed, actually being a writer began for me sometime around the death of President Kennedy. Really, that decade was marked with violence, chaos and change. The arts and opportunities in the arts were changing and took me along. In the beginning a ghost, hiding in non de plumes, scrounging up any kind of job I could, living my multi-life of jobs, marriage, writing and school.

The decade was turning from Hippie to Yippee. The war grew and grew, cities burned, people were assassinated, Woodstock became Altamont and I was drifting from the group because the group was always talking about what they would do in the arts while I was actually doing it and my social time was fading. Yes, my
name was appearing on what I published now. I was writing above ground, doing regular features for a cultural and arts newspaper called, "Philadelphia After Dark" with my name over every piece.


 By the end of the 1960s I was selling to magazines and it was then I began to sell my fiction, my horror stories to Magazine of Horror and Startling Mystery Stories. Not only was my name
now on the byline, it was oft times appearing on the cover.

These magazines were published by Health-Knowledge, Inc. and were on all the newsstands around me. It had a large worldwide circulation. It certainly appeared that anything I sent Robert A. W. Lowndes, the editor, would be published and although the payments would hardly support us, the amounts weren't bad for the times, and it could have led to more lucrative markets, after all Stephen King got his start in the same magazines and no one had ever heard of him either in the 1960s. (Photo on left taken by Jack Robins is Robert Lowndes in 1939.)

"The Magazine of Horror was introduced to readers in the early 1960s. There were 6 issues per volume and the volumes ran roughly on an annual basis. They began with the August 1963 issue and ended with the Apr 1971 issue, for a total of #36. Original sets in decent condition range upwards in value to a few thousand dollars, while individual issues can vary from about $10 to $100. 

The Magazine of Horror was the brainchild of Robert Augustine Ward Lowndes, a science fiction and fantasy and horror fan, author, and editor. He was born September 4th, 1916 and died July 14th, 1998. 

Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, he was first published in the 1940s. He began the Magazine of Horror series on behalf of Health Knowledge Inc, a company that also produced the well known Exploring the Unknown Series. The Magazine of Horror was mixture of reprints and originals, and was quite popular, ultimately inspiring companion magazines: Startling Mystery Stories (1966 - 1971, 18 issues), which published the first Stephen King stories, Famous Science Fiction (1966 - 1969, 9 issues), Weird Terror Tales (1969 - 1970, 3 issues), and Bizarre Fantasy Tales (1970-71 2 issues.) 

When Health Knowledge Inc. died in 1971, all of the magazines collapsed along with it, resulting in the series with few issues. 

As an antique and fan collectible, remaining issues of the Magazine of Horror are a prized item that can only gain in value as the years go by." (I don't know the author of this information.)


Sometimes beginnings are also the beginning of changes that wake us from our dreams. As the "Decade of Love and Peace" dragged into the 1970s changes were coming. The month after my story, "Conjured", appeared in "Startling Mystery Stories", Health-Knowledge folded its tent. I never even received my check for that story.





Funny person, old man time
But not so nice, you see
Because by never stopping
He stole my love from me.  
             -- From "Old Man Time" by Dot Waters
                 Dot pictured on the right playing my guitar upon my bed, 1967.


Old Man Time was not stopping and the things were being stole away. The Trauma was closed by Frank Rizzo saying the coffee house was detrimental to the families of the neighborhood. It was replaced with a barroom. More telling, perhaps, down on 8th Street the 100 year old landmark, known as the "Oldest Bookstore in the

United States", Leary's had closed. I used to hang out in its stalls looking for bargains I might afford. The group was dissolving  as well.  Some to anger, some to war, some to other things.



But you cannot live forever on thirty cups of coffee and three packs a day and no plans. In reality, life is an occupation, and he never could hold a steady job. Aislinn worked steady. She had worked since childhood and knew its rhythm. She was used to the beat. She would fly for a week and he would go to his apartment and compose, but then he would need her and she was in the air. He would console himself going to the Burrow and buying a drink. He would feel better and buy a drink to celebrate feeling better, and not go back to work, but buy a drink to console himself for not being able to compose. (From "Habits", 1972)

The real change came, of course, when we moved from the City of Brotherly Love. I had survived joblessness for my art, struggled through our lack of money, put up with the roaches and the prostitutes, and the drug addicts next door and Ian, our four-foot, nine-year old Iguana died in my arms because in the dead of winter we had no heat for a week, and the politicians accused me of voter fraud along with half the residents of University City and tried to strip away my right to vote.



Frank looked at faces. Most were younger than his, obviously students. There were some older. There was a guy with a long white beard, knurled and twisted hands and a bewildered look.         There were some older women clustered near the door, like him, not students.
          Along the front right wall sat the witnesses: two wizened men and a shriveled woman, all down on their luck and high on booze. He had never seen any of the three before. Occasionally the judges asked the three if they had seen so-and-so falsely registered and one or the other said they had. Sometimes they spoke at the same time and sometimes stumbled over the words and sometimes looked blankly off into the distance.
After questioning, each accused called forth went to the table, then left. The lawyer went to the bench and whispered to the man on one end. The man on the end whispered to the other two judges. There was a recess. The judges left the room. The lawyer left with them. A moment later the lawyer came back and stepped to the front of the room. He told the crowd if they had valid driver’s licenses, show the clerk and they would remain on the register and be free to go.
Frank stood in line a half hour.
          A citizen with voting rights has choices. Frank thought about his as he walked to the polling place that year. Far to the north he heard sirens. There were always sirens in the city, but there were more lately. He walked from the poling place through a park empty of life. Some forgotten men claimed the concrete benches and pigeons pecked at the hardening ground. The air was chill. The sky was November gray. Another winter was coming soon, another winter in a long line of winters, and he was tired of winter. He was tired of the cold. Each year it was harder to find warmth here.
He thought it might be time to leave the city. (From "Toward Last November", 1974)


We left the city because one evening something tried to get in through the pipe panel in the kitchen wall behind the bathroom. What, I don't know? A Cat, a rat or a person, whatever, it was pressing out the board with a good deal of strength. I shoved the kitchen table against the panel, walked into the other room and told Lois, "That's it, we're moving."


We moved to the suburbs into a "luxury" apartment. Broad Street Bullies, the Watson Brothers

players on the Philadelphia Flyers were neighbors there (Jim & Joe Watson pictured left).  Lois taught Joe's wife how to use the washers in the laundry room. Yes, my financial situation had improved, but my soul had not. I was angry, bitter and disillusioned. We made new friends to replace the literary gang of artists that had surrounded us in the city. There was no talk about painting, poetry or plays. Pleasure was the focus of this new world, drinking parties and sex. But all that is for some future Throwback Thursday.

When I put Keep All the Animals Warm together I framed the contents between two halves of a story called "Community Park". This had been a real place during the Hippie era, a park that lay between the gentrified and the ghetto that became enmeshed in protest over who it should belong to. The protesters won and the city turned the park over to the neighborhood. At first it brought about peace and was turned into an urban Eden, with flowers and playground equipment and community events. It was featured on the Today Show and other TV programs, hyped in the press, visited by dignitaries and praised as the answer to all the problems of the day, an example of generational and racial harmony. But after some time passed and it was no longer news it dissipated into disrepair and a place of desperation. I based my story on those events, setting it in Clark Park in Philly because that suited the narrative of the stories I had created. I felt the story of "Community Park" represented that so called Decade of Love and Peace. In many ways it also represented the hope and failure of my own soul. By the end of the 1960s my soul was as desolate at that park.



And then Community Park was old news and the media went away. Then it was an old cause and the students went away. Soon it was just a park with ghettos on one side and universities on the other and peace and love went away.
The Native Americans never came back.
Park meetings were of another kind with different transactions in mind. The flowers were trampled and unattended. Old newspapers wrapped about the monkey bars and the swing chains, broke and rusted, swung squeaking in the winter winds. The trash receptacles overflowed with waste. Seldom emptied, cans were sometimes stolen, frequently battered and often dumped on the ground. Objects littered the grass around the benches and bushes. Needles sparkled in sunlight. Condoms obscenely decorated the base of the statue. The wooden Community Park sign was set afire and left to burn and only singed cement posts remained to mark the spot. The neglected grass turned to brown.


Frank lived there during the decade of peace and love now faded to legend and myth, much like Community Park, and then like the illusion he too was gone. (From "Community Park", 1974)



So why this long piece now. Well, as I stated somewhere back at the start, it may be age or it may be the coming of another winter. I remember someone talked about receiving an honor and said it was great to get it, but when such a thing happened it meant you were being remembered for what was over.  I had declared I would be a writer when I was 12 years old. In the 'sixties I came as close as I would to realizing that dream. Oh, I continued to write and I have been published in various media in all the decades of my life, including the present. It just isn't as constant as during my twenties and I know it won't make me rich now or that I'll ever win the Nobel Prize for literature. More to the point , I am suddenly being remembered for what is over. I have discovered myself being analyzed or mentioned by others in books about the past, such as these three:





It is flattering. But no matter I doubt I'll ever stop writing something somewhere whether anyone reads it or not.  Writing is a disease without a cure.



Content of Keep All the Animals Warm


PROLOGUE
Community Park
9

ANIMALS
1. Seeking the Seventh Circle 13
 2. Tea and Coffee 18
 3. Subway Stop 25
 4. Cold 29
 5. Singing in the Streets 35
 6. By the Dim Lake of Auber 46
 7. Cleon Jefferson's Decision 52
 8. Pome Penyeach 59
 9 Noirblanc 63
10. Pieces of ’71 or Why There Will never Be Peace 76
11. Habits 85
12. Toward Last November 93

EPILOGUE
Community Park

96


They say if you remember the 1960s, you weren’t there…fortunately, I wrote everything down.


TIMELINE FOR THE TIMES

1962
Seeking the Seventh Circle
·      The bestseller Silent Spring by Rachel Carson causes a sensation.
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “Stranger on the Shore” by Mr. Acker Bilk
·      James Meredith attempts to register at the University of Mississippi as its first Black student
·      Dr. James D. Watson, Dr. Francis Crick and Dr. Maurice Wilkins win the Nobel Prize for discovering DNA.
·      John Glenn becomes first American to orbit in space.
·      Marilyn Monroe is found dead.
·      Richard Nixon loses his bid for governorship of California.
·      There were 11,300 American Troops in Vietnam.

1963

Tea and Coffee
·      The number one bestseller was The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris L. West. The number two bestseller was The Group by Mary McCarthy
·      Also in the top ten was City of Night by John Rechy
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “Sugar Shack” by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs
·      Ernest Hemingway put a shotgun in his mouth and blew his head off in Idaho.
·      Medgar Evers was shot and killed.
·      There was a Children’s Crusade for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama. Police with fire hoses and dogs greeted the children.
·      On May 10, 1963 the first urban riot of the 1960s occurred in Birmingham in response to a bombing.
·      Another bombing occurred in September, killing four little black girls at a Baptist Church in the city.
·      On November 1, South Vietnam President Diem was assassinated outside Saigon.
·      On November 22, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
·      On December 14, Dinah Washington died from a lethal dose of  Seconal and Amobarbital at age 39.
·      There were 16,300 American troops in Vietnam.

1964

Subway Stop
·      The number one bestseller was The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre
·      Also in the top ten was Herzog by Saul Bellow.
·      A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway was number eight on the nonfiction list.
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
·      The Society Hill Towers opened in Phiadelphia as rental units. (They converted to condominiums in 1979).
·      Three civil rights workers disappeared in Mississippi.
·      In August, Reverend Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a Dream” speech to 200,000 in Washington DC.
·      In August, two United States Navy destroyers were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin by North Vietnamese torpedo boats.
·      There were 23,300 American troops in Vietnam.

1965

Into the Cold
·      The number one bestseller was The Source by James A. Michener
·      Also in the top ten was The Green Berets by Robin Moore.
·      World Aflame by Billy Graham was number four on the nonfiction list.
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “Wooly Bully” by Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs
·      Malcolm X was assassinated.
·      Race riots broke out in Watts.
·      In March, Reverend Martin Luther King led a freedom march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
·      In February, the military barracks at Pleiku were attacked by VC guerillas. President Lyndon Johnson launched Operation Rolling Thunder in response.
·      There were 184,500 American Troops in Vietnam.

1966

Singing in the Streets
·      The number one bestseller was Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
·      Also in the top ten was The Fixer by Bernard Malamud. (This novel is not about drugs,)
·      In Cold Blood by Truman Capote was number three on the nonfiction list. Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane was number eight.
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Mr. Barry Sadler
·      Edward Brooke, of Massachusetts, became the first black U. S. Senator in 85 years.
·      In January the United States began a major escalation of the Vietnam War by bombing Haiphong and Hanoi.
·      There were 385,300 American Troops in Vietnam.


1967

By the Dim Lake of Auber
·      The number one bestseller was The Arrangement by Elia Kazan
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “To Sir With Love” by Lulu
·      Thurgood Marshall was named to the United States Supreme Court.
·      Race riots broke out in Detroit and Newark.
·      In March the “Pentagon Papers” reveled that “Operation Pop Eye”, supposedly a rainmaking project, was a tactic to reduce traffic on the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos.
·      There are 485,600 American Troops in Vietnam.

1968

Cleon Jefferson’s Decision
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “Hey Jude” by The Beatles
·      In 1968 Martin Luther King will be assassinated in Menphis and Bobby Kennedy will be assassinated in Los Angeles.
·      In February the Vietcong launch the Tet Offensive.
·      In March Lt. Calley will be a leader on the My Lai massacre and later sentenced to 20 years hard labor.
·      There are 536,100 American Troops in Vietnam.

1969

Pome Penyeach
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies
·      In 1969 Ho Chi Minh will die.
·      In October a million people will participate in anti-war demonstrations across the United States.
·      In December the first draft lottery in 27 years will be held.
·      There are 475,200 American Troops in Vietnam.

1970

Noirblanc
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel
·      In 1970 the final budget from the Johnson administration will contain $43,000,000 for drug enforcement and $59,000,000 for research and treatment.
·      In April President Nixon will announce a withdrawal of another 150,000 troops from Vietnam.
·      In April Nixon will send troops into Cambodia causing widespread protest in the United States.
·      In May four Kent State students will be shot dead by Ohio National Guardsmen on campus.
·      There are 334,600 American Troops in Vietnam.



1971

Pieces Of ‘71 or Why There Will Never Be Peace
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night
·      In 1971 President Nixon will call “drugs public enemy number one” as Veitnam vets begin returning home addicted to heroin.
·      In March a bomb will explode in a United States Capitol Building restroom, with the “Weather Underground” claiming responsibility.
·      On April 2, 300 Vietnam Veterans Against the War will camp on the Washington Mall.
·      On May 5, 100 Police and 10,000 federal troops will make a mass arrest of war protesters, totaling 10,900 arrested.
·      In November President Nixon announces 45,000 more troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam.
·      In December, the United States carries out “Operation Pound Deep”, the heaviest bombing of North Vietnam since 1968.
·      There are 156,800 American Troops in Vietnam.

1972

Habits
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
·      In 1972 there will be 60,000 Methadone recipients in the United States.
·      In February President Nixon will visit China.
·      In April the Paris Peace talks will begin.
·      In December the Paris Peace Talks will be halted by the North Vietnese. The United States will respond with the heaviest bombing of the war.
·      There are 24,200 American Troops in Vietnam.

1973

Toward Last November
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “Tie a yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando and Dawn
·      In January President Nixon says he will end the war “bring peace with honor in Vietnam and South East Asia.”
·      In 1973 the Drug Enforcement Administration will be created.
·      In September President Nixon will say, “We have turned the corner on drug addiction in the United states.”
·      In 1973 Maynard Jackson will be elected mayor of Atlanta, the first elected black mayor of a major southern city.
·      There are 50 American Troops in Vietnam.


1974


Community Park
·      The Number One song on Billboard was “The Way We Were - Memories” by Barbra Streisand
·      In 1974 the final budget from the Nixon administration will contain $292,000,000 for drug enforcement and $462,000,000 for research and treatment.
·      In April the last American soldier is killed in Vietnam.
·      In August President Richard M. Nixon becomes the first United States President to resign.
·      The last Americans are evacuated out of Saigon from the embassy roof. Within hours of the evacuation, Saigon falls to the Vietcong.
·      There are zero American Troops in Vietnam.


NEW DAYS?

By 1999 the drug budget will exceed $17,000,000,000.
By November 2001 there will have been 1,305,983 people arrested for drug violations in the United States. Someone is arrested every 20 seconds.
In September 11, 2001 the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D. C. will be attacked by terrorists. Over 3,000 victims of the attacks will be dead and the twin towers will have collapsed.

In 2001, there are approximately 200 American troops in Afghanistan and zero in Iraq.