It was 40 years ago today that I drove into Boston in a white, right-hand drive post office van as Richard Nixon flew out of Washington D.C. in a green Chinook Marine helicopter. At age 26 I was escaping a dissolving marriage, while at age 62 Mr. Nixon was fleeing a disgraced presidency.
Though neither the dishonored ex-prez or I had a plan or a job to speak of, unlike Mr. Nixon I carried the unalloyed confidence of my Baby Boom generation, the belief that ours was a crossroads cohort, fated to a new set of values espousing brotherhood, integrity, and that, some how, some way, some thing would turn my way.
That horizon-held confidence wasn’t hard-earned. Instead it had been bestowed by my parent’s Great Depression and war tempered generation. It is amazing what freedom from student loan debt, and the need for only meager means to cover room and board can generate in terms of going your own way.
Our rent on Empire Street in the summer of 1974 was a mere $160/month for a two-bedroom, one-bath unit. As such, journeys of exploration were more easily mounted, and freedom was still a simple enough word for something left to seek.
It had taken me two days to drive 1178 miles east from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and as I pulled up in front of 61 Empire Street in the Allston section of Boston, the Allman Brothers Ramblin’ Man poured from my stereo like an ally of the warm summer sun. Then, as I turned off the sturdy slant-six motor of my reconverted post office van, my new roommate, Patrick, bounded down the stoop with a joint fired up.
“Hey, Reavis!” he said, extending the sweet-scented memory cleanser to me from behind a wide grin. “Welcome to Boston.” Continue reading