Saturday, April 4, 2009

It was 40 years ago today . . .

my maternal grandmother was laid to her rest in a cemetery not too far from where I sit. She had died three days earlier, on April Fool's Day. Some joke.

April 4 was my then girlfriend's 19th birthday. She was in Waukesha, WI. (Happy 58th birthday today, kid. I understand life's been rough on you.)

After the funeral, I was in no mood to play nice with the family. My grandma meant a good deal to me, despite her many failings. Of course, I wasn't that aware of her failings then. As a child, I'd never understood why she would spend her afternoons watching Jan Murray's Treasure Hunt and then bitch about him being a "damn Jew". I didn't even know what a Jew was at the time, much less know one. Most White Bear boys were in the same boat. Hell, a Jew couldn't even buy property in the privately-owned North Oaks, area to the West of White Bear Lake. Of course, I couldn't get in without an escort. But I digress.

So, I left town after her funeral. I called a few friends and headed West, to the town of Morris, MN, where a pal was a freshmen in college. We drove a 1965 VW bug, carrying 3 people and 10.57 gallons of 14.9 cent a gallon gas. It took more than a few hours to cover the necessary ground. You can only push a 69 CI, 24 hp, 4 cylinder engine so fast.

It was almost dark when we arrived. My pal, whose name will go unremarked for the protection of us all, shared a dorm room in Pine Hall, a co-ed building with guys and girls on alternating floors. His roommate, B., was preparing for a date. I'd met B. before, briefly. He struck me as jock-like but OK.

I met another resident shortly after I arrived: D. To this day, I don't know why he made me laugh, but he did. I couldn't be in the same room with him for more than a few minutes without cracking up, completely. I was powerless.

We cut and ran, heading to a concert in a small auditorium in the center of the campus. I have no idea who was playing. It wasn't any good to my ears.

The rest of the evening is a blur, now. All I know is that when it came time to call it a night, my sleeping arrangements required that share D.'s room. I couldn't.

We left town well before dawn, rolling south on Highway 9 and then East on Highway 12 to Minneapolis and a dingy 2 bedroom apartment above a NordEast meat market and laundromat. My buddy made us breakfast. We ate spaghetti and meatballs on a balcony overlooking the alley as the sun rose behind us.

Goodbye, Grandma. It was good to know you.


No comments:

Post a Comment