Paul was always one for “bad” jokes and puns, so he started telling at least one joke a week. It was an immensely popular segment of the show. Most of them were real groaners. After a year of hearing these jokes week after week, folks started getting tired of it and came asking me to do something about it. It was around the same time that Aron Kay and other yippies were pieing political figures such as William Buckley, Phyliss Schlafly, G. Gordon Liddy and many others. They even pied Andy Warhol because he had dinner with the Shah of Iran. Every pie's flavor was chosen on purpose. Paul really admired the yippies for doing that, so I decided to give the “bad joke of the week” segment a big ending. I had already pleaded with him and knew that Paul would never willingly give it up. One week, I came up with a plan to pie him in the face after his joke. I chose whipped cream because it reminded me of the old comic routines with cream pies. Later on, a friend, Clinton, suggested that shaving cream is a kinder way to do it, but at the time all I knew was whipped cream. As he told his joke, I filled up a pie pan with whipped cream and waited … and waited … and waited, while he told more and more jokes. He usually only told one, maybe two, but this night, he went on and on. The crowd was getting antsy, and the whipped cream was melting. Because I was holding the “pie” in the back of the room, I couldn’t go up and give him the hook. When he finally finished, I hit him with this pie pan full of half liquid cream. Sploosh! The crowd loved it. Paul was shocked but had always been a good sport and, that was the end of “bad joke of the week.” It was fun while it lasted but everything must end sometime, and even Paul had to admit that this was a great ending.
We met a lot of interesting characters at these Open Mics. One man we met there was a songwriter named Mitt. He was not a hippie. He was a local and was very conservative. He had a connection with a local radio station in Tillamook and hired us to record one of his songs in multiple harmonies. There were six of us on that recording. It was my first experience in a recording studio and my first time hearing myself on the radio. I was hooked. One day, he came to the house to jam and met our kids for the first time. At that time, Jessie loved to dress her brother up in her old dresses. She even had a name for him in drag. She called him “Rubessa.” He enjoyed it too, probably because of all the attention he was getting from his sister, and we saw no harm in it. That day, he was wearing a frouffy, lacy dress, toddling around without anything on underneath because he was potty training. I always found it easier to teach my kids to use a potty when it was easily accessible, so they had a potty where they could see it, not hidden away in the bathroom, and didn’t wear training pants. It worked very well for all of my kids. This was well before they started making disposable training pants, which in my opinion are too much like diapers to be highly effective. The kids were playing around us as we jammed, dancing and listening to the music when Justin fell, and his dress flew up around his face. The look on Mitt’s face, as he realized that we didn’t have two daughters, was priceless.
We also met a woman flutist, Marla, who lived on a farm with her boyfriend Tom. One Easter, we were invited to an egg hunt at their farm. Most of the eggs were in the barn, so off we went with a whole troupe of friends to find them. Jessie decided that she needed to use the bathroom, so we left the group and started walking back to the house when we were suddenly attacked by their flock of geese. They surrounded us and started trying to bite our legs. Justin was still small, so I scooped him up while holding on to Jessie and kicking at the geese. Finally, another adult came out to help us, and we made it to the house. Jessie’s memory is that I picked her brother up and left her to the strong beaks of those geese. She still reminds me of that. In reality, I was trying to protect both children and could only lift one of them, but we all remember things in our own ways. Another incident at that farm happened when we arrived one time for a visit. They had horses, so there was a metal gate that had to be opened to drive through. Jessie loved being a “big girl” and opening the gate for me. This one day however, there was a curious horse that strolled over as she opened the gate. It startled her, and she screamed, scaring the horse and sending it galloping down the road. Tom came running out and chased the horse almost all the way to the highway before he finally caught him.
Of course, our friends, Patty and Jim were living there as well. They were the reason we ended up moving there in the first place. Although they didn’t have a farm, they also raised animals and gardened. They bought a lamb, who they named “Buck Burger” as a way of letting the kids know that this would someday be food. They were all cautioned not to play with the lamb for that reason. Predictably, they didn’t listen and played, not only with the lamb, but with the baby rabbits, too. We would chase them away, and as soon as our backs were turned, they’d go right back. Nothing could keep them away from these cute little babies. One day there was an unusual heat wave, and all the baby rabbits died. We were invited to a delicious dinner that night. Jessie raved about how good the food was and wanted to know what we were having. When Jim told her that we were eating Buck Burger and rabbit, she cried and never ate meat again. It was a hard lesson but one that farm kids have to learn. She was obviously not destined to live on a farm.
Another man we met was a stand-up bass player named David. He had one of the longest beards I’d seen and braided it in creative ways. He was a gentle giant, and Jessie was fascinated by him. He often joined us in our sets at the café. He was one of the few friends who didn’t have children of his own. David introduced us to an older man who had landscaped his yard as a fantastical playland for kids and adults. There was a rope swing that went out over a deep pond, gardens with fun decorations, play structures for all ages and unusual trails. Looking back on it now, I realize how much of an inspiration that was for my own landscaping.
There were lots of couples with kids including one couple who worked on a dairy farm and a pot farmer and his partner who had recently had a child. This man grew square plots of marijuana scattered throughout the National Forest which bordered his home. Every square was kept separate and pollinated by hand with every one of them being a different strain. He often hired his friends to help out in the fields and paid us with any branch we would like to cut. I often babysat for his child and was also paid in weed. He had studied the genetics, creating his own strains very scientifically. He eventually made enough money to pay all of his tuition for medical school, much like our friend in San Francisco who raised her tuition for art school by being an upscale call girl. That year, one day right around harvest time, he heard a knock on his door. When he answered it, he saw a man from the Forest Service in his uniform. He admitted later that he was a little worried. The Forest Service official told him that he had received an order to fly the planes over that part of the forest the following day. He wanted to warn him so that he could get his friends together to do the harvesting immediately. A bunch of people worked all afternoon and almost until the morning getting all of the plants in before the fly by. I always thought that was such a nice service.
We had finally landed in a community with like-minded people, many of whom had kids that befriended our own kids. I soon found out about an alternative school that was there. This was the second time I’d heard about alternative education, the first being in San Francisco in the artist community we were in briefly. As you’ll find out later when I make the move to Albany, New York, the third time was the charm. There was so much that I could relate to, that inspired me and influenced my life for many years to come. However, like many things, it wouldn’t last for us. We soon got word that our landlord had found himself earlier than expected and was coming back home. We had a month to move out. In all fairness, he had offered to let us stay there with him as long as it took to get a place. He soon found himself fending off well intentioned travelers who had gotten the word about our hippie bed and breakfast. I guess that went on for years, much to his chagrin. Although, I’ve heard that he had a good laugh about it.