cat yronwode

In your memories of Tolstoy Farm in the summer of 1967, i was the young woman with the autoharp. You remember me and
my then-husband Tom Hall playing music together, but he had no banjo -- rather, a Martin guitar and a lute-back
mandolin. But he was a hillbilly singer, you have that right, He came from Birmingham, Alabama. I, on the other
hand, who you identify as being both "heavy" and seeming to come from "Eastern KY," weighed about 110 lbs. I am half
Jewish and half Sicilian, and i came from Berkeley. But i was the only autoharpist there, this i know. Tom Hall and i
had the small room on the ground floor off the library. We were planning to build a cabin, but never did. I too
remember Sylviaís Morgan horse and Abe the Belgian horse, and Linoleum the cow, and Stash (Stanislaus), a Polish
American man from a farn in upstate New York, and Russ Nobbs, and Patty his wife who ran off and dumped him to go
join Mel Lymanís group in Boston, and Tom and Andie, and Huw and Sylvia, and Jose Fuentes and his wife (but not her
name), and Richard "Rico" Reed, who had invited Tom Hall and i to Tolstoy -- he being a fellow former student at Shimer
College. I remember Ken Meister and his aversion to onions, and his recital of "The little cow all red and white i love
with all my heart." He had been a Sunday school teacher prior to coming to Tolstoy. I remember Alan Bell, a deep
thinking intellectual, and two men named Robert, one shorter and married to or living with a woman named Patsy (i think
his name was Bob Chase? or else his family was wealthy and connected with the Chase Manhattan bank?) and the other, Bob
McGrath, who was taller and thinner and slept in a hay-bale hovel and was married to a woman (Kathy?) who suddenly
showed up with their child. I remember a wandering man named Koriel (or Koryel) who said he had seen flying saucers and
who taught Tom and me how to make hand-dipped candles. I remember the Leonid meteor shower. I remember a man named
Carly, who drove a two-tone Chevy Belaire that was later stolen while broken down on the road (and a lot of my stuff
was in it and was lost forever to me). Carly had been adopted by some scientists in Berkeley but was not very bright, yet very gentle and kind.
And Charlie Brown Artman, whom i had known in Berkeley, came to visit, too. That was around the time that Lee,
the guy from the insane asylum in Napa, California, showed up with his girlfriend and almost shot Carly, but that is such a long story i canít do it
justice here. I remember a woman named Diane or Diana. She was heavy -- the first really fat woman hippie i ever saw --
(perhaps you have confused me with ther?) who went apple thinning and cherry picking with us in the Yakima Valley and
fell off her ladder and dislocated her shoulder. While picking fruit, a group of us stayed in an old Hooverville,
like a band out of "The Grapes of Wrath." I remember Sperry, whose money bought the Hart House land, the actual Tolstoy
Peace Farm, and whose grandfather had invented the hydraulic ram, which is what you describe going to inspect up at the
spring with Huw. Sperry lived in Spokane. He was friends with Russ Nobbs and with Huw, mostly. I remember Walter
Engelbrecht, an older man (older than us young hippies), who was heavy, sort of coarse, but actually quite friendly. I
think he slept in his car. He was not a rural person. I travelled back to the Bay Area a few times during my years
at Tolstoy, sometimes to see my folks in Berkeley, sometimes just for a change of scene from the farm. The place you and
Sylvia stopped at on that trip south you describe was probably Dick Kegwin's house in Bolinas, California. Dickís
wife -- i've forgotten her name -- was a weaver; they had a large studio-barn of a home. She dumped Dick for another
man, a younger fellow, and she abandoned their child when she did that. Dick drove a truck to Tolstoy with his goats
and his child, quite distraught, reading some novel by Aldous Huxley. He told me that his name, Kegwin, meant
"white dog" in Welch. Eventually his wife and her new lover blew through and big dramatic scene ensued. By the end of
that summer i remember all sorts of new folks arriving --two men from the FBI came looking for a guy named Serge whom
i had barely known in college; my old bofried Norman Ross Powers came by to see us; a woman name Mary who claimed that
she had hiked in with a backpack and was actually the granddaughter of the then-current Lincoln County sherrif who
had been sent there to take Polaroid photos of the farmís pot plants and snitch on us. She stayed up late with Alan
Bell and a feckless idiot named John Tourtelot of Connecticut, a spoiled rich kid whose father was connected
to the Hartford Insurance group. I got up in the night to go pee and walked by them, sitting around smoking pot, two
hopeful young men in search of sex, circling her. Within a week we had been busted and the unforgiveable John
Tourtelot turned stateís evidence against Tom and me and poor Walter Engelbrecht, who, it turned out, hasd a prior
juvenile record for car theft back when he was a teenager, long before any of us were even born. Because Mary Ann
claimed she had seen five people smoking pot and John Tourtelot wanted off the list, he had to substitute someone
else, so Walter Engelbrecht was his victim. ohn Tourtelot got off scot free. Tom and i decided to split up and to use
our jail time as a way to separate. I never went back to Tolstoy Farm. Life moves on -- i lived at two other communes
-- Equitable Farm and the Garden of Joy Blues. The latter was also a place of 19th century technology, sans
electricity, where we did subsistence living. Then, after more than a decade of communal living i decided that the
political elegance of such a lifestyle did not balance my own aesthetic interests. I wanted to make and have my own
things, not to have to watch as other people broke things i made or liked. I wanted to have my own marriage, too, not
some half-marriage that was subject to the sexual psychodramas of the communes where i had lived. I still
think of the 1941 Chevy pick-up truck that Tom and i drove into the canyon at Tolstoy, and of the day, about a year
later, that it lost first gear and we knew it was stuck at the bottom of the hill forever. I miss that truck. I still
raise chickens and keep a garden and live a low-impact life. I don't see any of those people anymore. But i sure do miss
that truck.

cat yronwode
http://www.luckymojo.com/cat.html
 
Back