Dropping acid, shattering dreams, marital fidelity, memories of the summer of 1968


A pianist and I, for a summer,

Lived in a house with a drummer

    The dream came to a stop

    When the acid got dropped,

And his trip turned into a bummer.

   

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  While my one-year, thirty-mile non-compete clause ticks off, I’m working locum tenens in different places and taking some time to breathe.  After working two weeks in Grand Island, Nebraska, I drove east, visiting friends and family and having Thanksgiving with my wife’s family in Virginia.  I’ve just started work in Keosauqua, in southeast Iowa.

On the way to Keosauqua from Columbus, Indiana I chose to detour through Crawfordsville, Indiana and Galesburg, Illinois.

I drove to Galesburg the first time in 1968, directly from my high school graduation, sure I would never return to Denver.  Our jazz trio planned to work at Gale Products for the summer, play jazz in the non-work hours, and be world-famous musicians.  Positive we would change the world for the better, we knew nothing about business.

Only the drummer found work as planned.  We played a lot, I developed a good set of chops, we wrote some decent tunes, but we found few gigs. 

That summer the piano player courted Bonnie, the woman who would become his wife, whom he met his freshman year at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.  The weekends we didn’t have playing jobs we would drive from Galesburg to Crawfordsville.  We slept on cots in Bonnie’s basement, her mother cooked for us.  In the evenings we danced to Simon and Garfunkel. 

The untimely death of the piano player’s mother torpedoed my plan to never go home again. 

Later that summer we got an agent, who told us a music group’s failure usually comes down to personality conflicts.  We assured him that wouldn’t apply to us.

Early second semester 1969, the drummer took LSD and dropped out of his sophomore year at Cornell College.  In retrospect, it precipitated his first manic episode.  The piano player and I never trusted him again.  At the end of that term I knew, for a lot of reasons, I would never become a Great Composer.

Tuesday I pulled off the Interstate and drove into Crawfordsville.  I gave Sweetheart, my GPS, the address of Bonnie’s house.  I drove past the courthouse with its Civil War Memorial, past the college campus.  I didn’t remember the town being so prosperous, though the people keep their lawns as neat as they always did.  Passing the humble house at the top of the hill, memories of the summer flooded my brain.

I thought a lot from there to Galesburg.  I found my way from the Interstate right to the house we’d lived in on South Seminary Street.  It sported new paint, a rejuvenated porch, and white siding.  Galesburg pulses with a vitality we hadn’t seen forty years ago. 

Much has happened since then.

The drummer went on a downward social spiral and currently resides behind bars.

The piano player still plays piano.  Always the best musician of the three of us, he stuck with it.  He plays gigs here and there but he has a day job teaching.  He’s still married to the same woman.

I’m not as naïve as I was then.  I’m a much better doctor than I was ever going to be a saxophonist.

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