Choo-Choo Tales and Some

Kurt Erickson

A minimal amount of a swing around the country.
From the record company, N.Y.C, Washington, Fairfax, Buffalo Creek Motel, another record company, Knoxville, Ashville, N'Arlunz, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, Santa Fe, Portal, Tombstone, Tucson, Scottsdale, Grand Canyon, Vegas.

All points near and around. Home on the West Coast, then Canada, Vancouver, Montreal and back to Saratoga Springs.

There's a different time when Tom, Al and Steve were hitching home from San Francisco to Saratoga Springs. Armando was going to give them a ride to University and Hwy. 80. They started talking, as old friends do and ended up at Don and Victoria's adobe abode in Santa Fe just before New Years Eve.
I was coming from Montreal down the Blue Ridge during fall colors and an ice storm coating the mountain laurels as one gazed over the Shenendoah Valley.
Since the Hwy. through Texas is straight and I'd driven it a zillion times, I played guitar and read Conan Doyle most of the way toward Santa Fe.

We had one whale of a party.
Armando headed west, properly through Albuquerque. Armando was a handsome rascal. Sharp and quick.
He was the first black guy to get into and bounce out of Barnum and Bailly's Clown College. His Dad was one of the early black generals in the Army. His mom one of the sweetest mexican mamacita cooks around. In the Clown College he was taken under the wing of an Eastern European Trapeeze Family.
He was the only one around who could speak their rather arcane dialect. Learned when his dad was stationed somewhere over there. He learned trap as well.
More or less.
The first thing you learn is how to fall.
Tuck your elbow in tight to your chest. Spin your shoulder in and try to roll just before hitting the sawdust. or dirt. Sort of summersault if you get the first things right.
Well, Armando was about fourty feet up doing a tricky manuver for a beginner and all of a sudden he was a lot further from the bar than he ought to have been.
Then he started to come down.
The surgical scars went from his lower back up over his shoulder and down his chest a ways.

In Santa Fe He was showing us a little skin the cat on what was the lower branch of this ornamental tree of Victoria's. It snapped, Armando fell; just right then Victoria snapped.

I figured give the guys a fifty mile head start and headed to Clines Corners. Granted. I was supposedly heading to Sonoma County.
We ended up at Steve's brother's condominium in Oklahoma City where he's a Pizza manager. I jumped stark raving naked into the pool surrounded by lights and over-priced condos.

It was only a 1500 mile detour and I made it home without posing for a police photographer.

Victoria kicked us out for the New Years Eve. She had some social hot-shots over for a party.
And this was after Al did his road gig by re-indexing the record collection. Hospitable friends wake up with all the records on the floor surrounding Al in his underwear.
We went to the dump overlooking the town to the west. The sunset came from The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. Pastels, towering clouds outline etched with corona. Zowie! Coyotes and us singing Old Songs and drinking great quantities of Dos Equses.

We'd left Saratoga Springs to build a record way up in Northern Vermont. Tom told his Grandmother he was traveling north to The Barn to make a record. She hollers, "Well, You better make two young fella, I've got a Hi-Fi too ya know!". The back of the Album has a picture of his Grandparents. A note from him saying, "This one's for you, Gram.". We decided to blow the roof off The Barn and have a maybe to be "Annual Meat-Loaf Bake-Off!". During the work we were all darn broke, so this was a big event! We'd load-up and went over hills through trees and rumbled and clanked over two covered bridges almost all the way to Vergennes to cash in our empty beer bottles. I'd been makin' mayonaise and nothin' omlettes for nigh onto a week. We had chickens, so could make the mayo. So the Bake-Off was a pretty big event! A ton of pretty, rich college young women from some of The Seven Sisters Colleges came to view the zoo. They got to party with real live broke and hungry musicians, sleep on pads in the high-timbered nicely converted Barn . It was semi-formal Sloth wore a full tuxedo top-part and cut-offs with stylishly bare feet. He also won the Bake-Off. Hot and Spicey! Martin Grosswendt was hanging out and left for Radcliffe with one of the ladies. Mary Mc Caslin and Jim Ringer drove up to do some work on one of their records. After a long session mastering the tape, we were eating Jim's good cooking (they brought FOOD!), and we see in the paper Linda Ronstadt is playing in Burlington. Mary had been part of the Stone Poneys with Linda. It was late. Icy roads, two covered bridges and 30 miles. The gig's over. Find Linda. Visit in Hank Williams Jr.'s touring bus. Party in the hotel, head back to the barn. Through the woods and hills, past Bob's store,over two icy, creaky covered bridges, take a right at the caboose and slide down the road to the studio. Utah Phillips had graded, put down ballsat rock and rails and plopped down his caboose on the up-hill side of The Studio. The County got a complaint from a fella down the road that would piss and moan about anything. Said The Caboose was a Mobile Home! Phillips welded the sucker to the rails. Case closed.

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