He sat on the edge of his cot looking tired, angry and agitated, like a tea kettle at full boil about to blow its top. He was dressed in a forget-me-not multi colored Hawaiian shirt. His faded blue jeans were held fast by a wide leather belt, armed with a buckle the size of a mature snapping turtle shell. His boots were from the West, the gold chains around his thick neck screamed Miami, which is where he was headed before he was waved off I-95 earlier that day. Now he stewed with the rest of us on top of a hill overlooking Richmond.
The staccato cadence of the failing Cessna engine, sputtering and wheezing in a consumptive fit, caught everyone’s attention. Our class Valedictorian was just about to summarize the bright futures that lay ahead for some us gathered together that warm June afternoon. All eyes of the Longmeadow High School Class of 1972 turned toward the small plane as it suddenly appeared overhead, trailing an oversized advertising banner. Printed in heavy block letters across its surface read, “Congratulations Jeff Grant!” Jeff, a fellow classmate and son of the towns preeminent bagel baker, sat a few rows ahead of me looking like he wanted to disappear.
The crisp, late autumn wind off the North Sea in early November was a sure sign to keep moving. Winter was approaching quickly. I had recently arrived back in Amsterdam after the first phase of what would be a extended tour of the back streets of Europe. Armed with a three-month rail pass, I had left the USA that September after graduating from college with no particular direction in mind.
Forty-seven years ago this July, a week short of my 16th birthday Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepared to make history my older brother Oscar and I were still reeling from the effects of a self-inflicted nutmeg overdose self administered the day before. The 60's could be brutal when it came to seeking new levels of consciousness.
The sky had already turned an unhappy gray as we jumped into the ford wagon and headed up the street of our old colonial town still fast asleep in the early morning light, downtown to the Greyhound Bus Station up river in Springfield, Massachusetts. The long...