Ron looked at the photo of himself as a boy, standing with the guitars that brought him to a crossroads in life.
In the summer of 1967, Ron was set to travel with five of his friends to Woodstock. Dave’s van had been tuned up, and everyone pitched in for a set of almost-new tires. They also cobbled together a gas fund with a bit of extra money in case of emergencies. Each sent away for — and received — their three-day passes to the music festival. It would be the perfect end to the perfect summer. And best of all, Cindy would be going. He remembered her sweet smile as she gushed, “You might get to play guitar with Jimi Hendrix!”
Then the news came that Ron won a complete music scholarship. He had forgotten he entered that contest, figuring at the time it was a longshot. But now he was offered the chance to be part of a two-month workshop in Spain, conducted by Andres Segovia and extending through the time of the Woodstock festival.
Ron had no idea what he should do.
He was in love with Cindy, and Cindy was going with the gang to Woodstock. Ron secretly hated rock music but he dearly loved Cindy.
Segovia was his musical hero. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study with a master, but the program was eight weeks long. Being separated from Cindy by two months and an entire ocean seemed unbearable.
His parents weren’t supportive of either choice. His mother cautioned Ron about entertaining fanciful thoughts. “We are a simple people,” she told him.
His father grumbled that he didn’t spend his whole life doing factory work so that Ron could run across the country with a bunch of drug-addled hippies. He added that Ron shouldn’t waste two good wage-earning months in a foreign country. After all, college was right around the corner and someone would have to pay for it.
Ron smiled as he put the photo back in the top left drawer of his desk.
Just then, Mr. Abernathy poked his head in the doorway. “Ron, got those quarterly reports ready to go?”
“Coming right up,” he said as he closed the desk drawer.
story by Liz Lynch
It’s a shame, really. I honestly don’t think your father or I have spoken to Steve since our wedding. Last we heard he’d been pulling it together. Dated a girl for a long time, sweet girl really, but just a lot of baggage. Her family from Kansas used to harass him for turning her into an atheist. Her brother banged on the door one night and started praying in tongues, really weird stuff. She rang up something like ten grand of debt on a credit card they had together. She grew up in pretty severe poverty. Last we heard, they’d broken up and it seemed like things were on the upswing for him. I mean, he still had a lot of “getting it together” to do, but he was working at a cute little store that sold, like, gourmet meat rubs and fancy olive oil, and they did deer processing for hunters and stuff. Seemed like things were starting to turn around.
He and your dad worked together at boy scout camp once upon a time. I took this picture when we were all in college, he was a couple years younger and ended up joining your father’s fraternity when he came to Madison his freshman year. Probably not the best fit for him. He ended up dropping out halfway through–too much weed and too many video games. Really good kid, though, I think he needed better guidance. He was always fighting with his dad about something.
I kind of can’t believe you haven’t met him, actually. We were pretty great friends at a pretty big time. Life’s funny that way, Sophie, these people who are so important to you can disappear so fast if you’re not careful and attentive. I would send him a Christmas card, but I don’t know where to mail it.
story by Rebecca Karpinski
I met my friend Joey in the 3rd grade. I remember our teacher, Mr. Howl, would always pick on him. “Joey, could you read the next couple paragraphs?” he said during our class reading sessions. “Sh…Sh…Sure M…M…ma…Missster Howl” Joey slowly mouthed. He always got a tad nervous reading. “Th…th…there once wa…wa….was a m…ma….ma…. man named Ta…ta….Terrance. He lived on a ha…ha….hill.”
“Joey, you have to practice otherwise you will never get any better. Do you want to read? Everyone else in the room can!” Mr. Howl exclaimed. Joey cowered and slowly sunk in his chair. “Lisa, can you finish those paragraphs for Joey?”
Later that day I talked to Joey and asked him why he couldn’t read. “I can read! It’s just when I try to speak in front of people…I kind of…stumble over my words. I already read the book at home. I practice talking out loud but I can’t do it in class. I don’t know why. Sometimes if I talk real slow it comes out right. Like I’m talking to you right now. My mom says I think to fast for my sounds.” I nodded.
“Joey. We’re going to practice. I’m gonna tell mom I’m headed to your house. If you can talk normally now, I think we can get this strait in class!”
“Thanks Clifford.” Spoke Joey, “It would be great to get Mr. Howl off my butt!”
We got Joey to read those words pretty good that year. About 11 years later this photo was taken. Joey and me were in the middle of painting his wall a deep red. This was right before we painted our band logo in the middle. The Soggy Band-aids. The sound was a mix of soulful blues with a slight metal edge. Joey sang the lyrics and played rhythm guitar. I played drums and his brother, Bobby Joe, played the banjo.
Story by Selena