In the last post I described the bus trip from Providence to Danbury, CT. At this point in the story Maria (pronounced like "Mariah") and I are driving to New York State with my father to my grandparents' house where we'll be staying for the Thanksgiving weekend, 1976.
It was about a half hour drive from the bus terminal in Danbury to the farm where I lived with my grandparents, parents, and older brother. I hadn't been back since I left for school in late August and similar to previous Thanksgiving breaks it took a little adjustment to see the familiar landscapes now devoid of the lush foliage of summertime.
The old homestead as photographed last week on a rainy afternoon.
Photos of entrance hallway and kitchen circa '76-'77. The painting on the wall in the hallway is the work of my grandfather who was a dentist, not an artist, but did a decent job of painting, nonetheless. The lamp on the table is a large dried gourd he grew years earlier and later incorporated as the decorative base.
The plan for the evening was to have dinner with my grandparents, but first we were going to have drinks with everyone except my brother who was out for the evening.
It was nearly dark by the time we arrived at the farm but Maria could still get a partial sense of the lay of the land, as well as the barns, and what the old house looked like as we drove in. Maria and I had a stretch of three days at my home and I was already thinking of breaking it up with a trip to Manhattan on the day after Thanksgiving. She had been to the city plenty of times in the past with her family and by herself, but it had been around six months since she last visited there so a return trip would be fun for her. New York was a just an hour and a half away making a day trip in the middle of our Thanksgiving break a simple matter.
Over the phone in the previous week I brought my parents and grandparents 'up to speed' about Maria--that we had known each other since Photo 1 class when she was a student at Brown, that she later transferred to RISD as a sophomore, a little description of her time growing up in Maine, etc. I told Maria on the bus to expect my mother to mention the story about my father looking into buying a business in Bangor, Maine when they were newly married and how they went to check out the business in person they found the building was about ready to fall down. I said to her had the circumstances been different and he did buy the business I might have taken a different career path--perhaps an outdoorsy type of occupation and the two of us might never have met as a result. (My mother did mention the story when we were having cocktails, just as I had predicted.)
The cocktails and dinner were smooth sailing and I had a sense that everyone liked Maria, which I figured ahead of time would be the situation, anyway.
Dinner was a dish that the 'non-vegetarian' part of me really enjoyed called Mary's meatballs based on a recipe that Mary, a cook from a few decades back had given to my grandparents, in addition to cooking the dish for them.
By the time we finished dinner it was after 9:00 and we went upstairs to do some quick unpacking. I had the room in the back that doubled as my grandmother's office while Maria had the guest room in the front that was called the "yellow room" due to it yellow flowered wallpaper.
My grandfather was much more of a night owl than my grandmother so we sat and talked with him until approximately 11:00. Still feeling wide awake I suggested to Maria that we walk over to my parents' house and listen to some music for an hour or two. The basement was the room where my brother and I had spent many hours over the years and that's where the stereo was located. Originally set up with a large H.O. scale train table and a few years later a pool table, the basement was always a fun place to be. As the early '70s came along the train table had been replaced by a sofa, coffee table, and chairs. My brother's Panasonic stereo was on the built in bookshelf he had constructed himself and there were a number of '60s and '70s albums he had purchased as the music collection on hand. I had only purchased a few albums at that time and mostly just recorded the songs I liked from NYC FM radio stations on my reel to reel tape recorder.
An original Blues Project poster from the basement wall (and the subject of an OS post a while back).
Below are some of the albums from the basement that were present in '76 along with my brother's old Panasonic stereo that still works, but was long superceded by newer equipment. Similar to a time capsule the basement provided me with the albums in great shape to photograph a few days ago as part of this story.
Neither of us had listened to the Stones' Her Satanic Majesties Request in a few years so that was first on the turntable with the volume set to a low level. YouTube provides a live version of 2000 Lightyears From Home from more recent times as seen below.
Photos I shot the other day of the Stones' album art, including the intriguing 3-D photo of the band that I spent lots of time looking at when the album was new:
Inside cover artwork:
Front and back record labels:
Maria and I were both 13 when this album was released. On that Thanksgiving eve in 1976 we both spoke of our continuing admiration of this excellent album that has withstood the test of time, even in 2012.
In another part of the basement was the laundry room and also the location of my darkroom going back to high school days. That was where I had my start in developing my own film and enlarging my negatives some seven years earlier. My father taught me how to do a lot of this because as a teenager in the '30s he had also developed his own film and printed his own photos.
I pulled out three high school yearbooks to show what my high school years had been like. One from the year my brother graduated, one from two years after he graduated, and the copy from my year of graduation. Flipping through the pages made me think of so many anecdotes from those days.
Also kicking around the basement were some RISD Press copies from the previous school year when Maria had taken a leave of absence. Moderately newsworthy, but they showed her a little more of what had occurred that year while she was away.
Whatever else we talked about while the music played probably related more to me than Maria, since we were sitting in my houseand the stories just kept popping into my mind.
I had my original circa '65 snare drum in the basement, as well. I spent a some time playing the drums but, ultimately, switched to playing keyboards years later. Who would have guessed in 1976 that years later this snare drum would have a part leading to the founding of the Open Salon Rock Group...
Thinking back to that evening I believe these other albums were played after the Stones' album was over.
Boz Scaggs' Silk Degrees: the album came out earlier that year...
From The Who in 1971, the Who's Next album...
It must have been close to 1 AM by the time we'd had enough music and talk for the night. It had been a long day and we walked through the cold and quiet darkness to my grandparents' house to have a good night's sleep.
(Note: the next installment may be posted this weekend or early next week.)
Previous installments of the series leading up to this point:
Art school senior year chronicles:
Roadkill brought us closer together:
All black & white and color photos and the text are © 2012 by B+Co., Inc.