Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Like a Fading Memory, Revived, Part II

Part of the joy of this blog is reconstructing my own wine-washed memories.  So far, so good.  Little by little I've put together the basic elements of when exactly I first saw Chuck Berry and how that fit into the other big events of my life.  These basic elements help to explain the origins of my "Chuck Berry problem"-- i.e., how a grown man managed to incorporate an imaginary friend into his life for 40 years.

But frankly, I was disturbed by the youtube post dated 12/8/73.  I knew I had seen it.  I remember the show, the clothes, and the fact that he was sharing a bill with a group called Poco.  But I also remembered, in the vaguest way, watching this performance in our Orangevale house with my brother Danny.  And it didn't make sense for me to be in the Orangevale house on that date. I should have been in my dormitory at college.  And I had no memory of seeing Chuck Berry perform at that dormitory.  (I remember other television events.  Watergate hearings.  The 1973 World Series between Willie Mays and the Mets and the Oakland As.  A television special with Duke Ellington.

So I thought I would dig through my archives-- the trunk full of old mail that I've kept all my life, looking for a clue.  In those days we wrote letters the way we write e-mail now.  And I found letters, but they didn't help.  They were from other people.  They wouldn't tell my what I had done that night.

Then I found it-- an unsent letter!  Dated December 9, 1973!  It practically threw itself out of the pile at me!
So would there be a clue?  Alas, yes.  And I wasn't watching television.  On December 8, 1973, I went to a film about a scruffy little 15 year old God wanna be named Maharj Ji.

The letter and it's description of the people in attendance was pretty funny, if I say so myself, and you know that I always do.  But I wouldn't have amused myself with the Maharaj Ji and his followers if I'd known Chuck Berry would be on In Concert that night.  And the next part of the letter shows that I KNEW what was going on!

Willie Dixon!  In San Francisco!  And I didn't go!  But dang!  I already knew a lot about the man. 

And then I turn the page and see something else I'd just discovered.  That I'd once been to Wentzville!  Now I know exactly when I first figured that out. 

The letter ends with something that you just can't get anymore: a $50 car.  My brother Stevo (who is the one who first told me about Chuck Berry, and who told me later that "No Particular Place to Go" was a hit when the family drove through Wentzville in 1964) used to get Ford Fairlanes for $50 and drive them dill they died.  Then he'd just walk away.  Ah, t'were simpler times!  But I was lusting after a $50 Singer Gazelle, which would have died before I started it. 

So anyway, I consulted my Morten Reff, Volume II.  The In Concert with Poco was December 8, 1972.  At which point I was still in Orangevale, and Lara lived around the corner, and I wasn't writing letters.  I was home.

No comments: