Friday, 18 March 2016

Two Dylan/Woodstock Stories

1.Me,Jack,Bob and the Bike

For my mum and for Woodstock, the only place I remember her being truly happy (and where she got to enter Dylan’s house).

What this story really needs is the truth, but I ain’t sure if anyone knows what that is anymore. So I’ll tell you what I know and the way it happened – or at least the way I remember it.

That summer of 1966, I was working over in Poughkeepsie, on the other side of the Hudson. There was a computer factory over there who were offering contract work at a real good rate. I would have been stupid not to take it.

I was living in Kingston on the west side of the river, in a small apartment in the downtown area. The reason I was trying to save some money was that my cousin, Jack was heading over this way from England and we were both heading for Canada.

He loved his soccer, and besides England was in the final of the soccer World Cup, which was being held in London the day after we left. We hoped to be in Ontario for the game where he planned to meet with some our family and friends.

I finished up work and headed down to Kennedy (or Idlewild as we used to call it) to pick up my cousin. Man, he was pumping and was up for this trip just as much as I was. Our plan was to go up through Woodstock on the Route 28 and then on to a little place called Liverpool, just north of Syracuse. There we were picking up more friends and we hoped to be in Hamilton, Ontario by the morning.

The soccer match was on early over here, so we thought that driving through the night would see us right. I had never seen a real honest to goodness soccer match, never mind one that was being shown around the world.

We started out real early on the morning of July 29th, and I told Jack that I wanted to stop in Woodstock and pick up some money that I was owed. Steve lived on the Glasco Turnpike and it wasn’t going to be too much of a delay, besides I needed the cash.

Steve wasn’t in when I called, but he had left the notes in a little package stuck to his door (Woodstock was, and still is, that kind of place).

I turned my VW around in Steve’s front yard as I planned to head out in the other direction and stop for a coffee in Phoenicia. It was going to be a long drive to Syracuse.

We had probably only traveled about a quarter-mile when we saw this guy sitting by the side of the road. My cousin recognized the bike as a Triumph Tiger – he knew about these things better than me. So I’m thinking to myself, you can’t let someone sit by the road, I mean you just got to stop and help. That’s the way it is in this fine land.

I could see by the skid marks that he’d slid off his bike and landed on the grass. Jack jumped out quickly and ran over to the guy to see how badly he was hurt.

He’d been lucky. There was only a few scrapes and bruises and considering that he was wearing nothing but jeans and a t-shirt, I would say that the good lord wasn’t looking for him that day.
I said we’d take him to hospital but he wasn’t having any of it. He said he just wanted to go home and maybe we could slip the bike in the back of the VW.

It seemed like the right thing to do, and since he only lived out towards Bearsville, it wasn’t going to take us too far out of our way.I took a left into Striebel Road and he said we should drop him there. I got to say, he looked real uptight, like he was ready to cry or something. I asked him if, maybe, we should take him home.He told us to stop the VW, as he wanted a little air. I asked if I could walk with him and he said he sure, if you want.

He told me he had a manager around these parts. That he was a singer – it was then I realized that he was Dylan, although I didn’t say anything – and that he’d taken the bike from his manager’s garage and hadn’t bother to check the thing.

“I guess them tires weren’t ready for the roads.”
He asked us where we were going and I told him north, then into Canada.
“Hey! You guys looking for a passenger?”

I couldn’t see any reason why not. So me, Jack, Bob and the Bike all traveled through the back waters of New York State towards Syracuse. We stopped just before 3 at a little diner. We all had a beer, fries and some burgers.

I had to ask why he was coming with us and he said,
“Cause, he wasn’t going with them. They’re leeches, man, leeches.”

I guess when a man has had enough, he has had enough.
We told him we were picking up some folks from Liverpool and he asked if maybe, it could just stay us. So I said, okay and telephoned the family and said we’d broken down. Some real bad story anyways.

We’d got to Buffalo and that was when Bob said, that he didn’t have no ID, and that we’d have to smuggle him into Canada. This is the weird thing, here we are trying to get into another country and we’ve got Bob Dylan hiding under the coats in the back.

I don’t know what God was watching us that day but we managed it. We made Hamilton about midnight and we booked into a motel rather than going to the folks.

We never did get to see them. We told Bob about the England – Germany soccer match and he said, we could go to a bar in town and see it. Just in case, he wore some shades, which kind of looked weird in downtown Hamilton.

And that folks, is what we did. Me, Jack and Bob (who supported Germany – well he’s a Zimmerman after all) all watched England beat West Germany 4 goals to 2.

The following morning Bob had checked out the hotel before we got up.
We never saw him again. We read that due to a motorcycle crash on July 29th, 1966 – he had been injured and had to get fixed up for several months.

I reckon he was tired of the leeches, that’s all.


2.Albert,Bob and Climie

The sun was sinking low behind Overlook as he set out to walk back to Woodstock.
He’d spent the day helping Joshua over in Bearsville’s fixing some pipe or other. Didn’t matter what it was, it was money and that’s all that mattered.

Like all the roads in the Catskills, there’s no sidewalk, so you just kept yourself alive by jumping from side to side. It was probably best to do it drunk, that way you didn’t worry.
Climie was humming some Bluegrass tune and trying to pretend that the coming dark wasn’t making him a little crazy. Some of those guys just sped out-of-town as if the cops were chasing them. I mean, they couldn’t see anyone, especially a kid in a dirty old pair of dungarees heading home.

He lived in Glasco road just past where The Family lived; a kind of house that took in all lost souls who found their way to it.

He would always run past The Family on account of all the stories he’d heard, but truth be told they were just folks like himself who needed a little hand to get back up, standing.
Climie must have been on the edge of Tinker Street when an old wagon slowed down. Now either it was someone lost, or someone he knew, or someone wanting something that he wasn’t prepared to hand over.

“Heading into town?” The driver asked.
Climie nodded and said nothing.
“Wanna ride?”

Did he know this guy? Climie was sure he’d seen the guy’s face around. He still had to get through town and out the other side to hit the Glasco road. So he thought what the hell and jumped in the wagon.

Climie looked at the man.
“Something bothering you man?” Asked the driver.
“Do I know you?” Said Climie.
“Does anyone, know anyone,” was the man’s reply and then he gave a little giggle.
“Sure I do, you sometimes talk to that red-Indian guy who sits on the store’s steps, where the Trailways bus pulls in. Ain’t you him?”
“He ain’t no red-Indian,” said the man. ”But he’s my good friend.”
“You live here?” Climie asked him.
“Does anyone really live anywhere?” said the man.
Climie looked at him as if he might be just a chord or two short of a tune.
“I can see it in your eyes, you think I’m crazy, don’t you?”

Climie dropped his face.
“That’s all I needed to know. I ain’t crazy, I’m just me.”
“So what do you do?” Climie asked.
“I am, what some people would call, a troubadour.”
“A whatma dour?”
“I sing songs for a livin’,” then the man grinned.
“Over at the Woodstock pub?”
“Not for a long time,” said the man. “Not for a long, long time.”
“So where you sing now?”
“Just about anywhere on this old rock. Anywhere they’ll have me.”
“You any good?” Asked Climie.
“I survive, where are you heading?”
“Been there long?”

Climie shook his head and told how they had to come down from Buffalo on account of his mom getting a job looking after one of Woodstock’s writers.

“Well I’ll be, I know your mom. Sweet little thing with bright blonde hair.”
Climie smiled, ‘cause that’s how he would have described his mom, too.

“You at school?” Asked the man.
“Over in Boiceville,” added the man. “Sure I know it.”

Then the man slowed the wagon down at the bottom of Glasco road.
“Going to drop you here, young ‘un, on account I got to visit my friend – or as you call him the red-Indian. If you see him sitting on the steps again, just say ‘Hi’. His name’s Albert and mine’s Bob.”

And with that Climie was out of the cab and running up Glasco and pleased that he hadn’t had to pass The Family.

bobby stevenson 2016

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