So a couple hours past dawn on Memorial Day I’m light-hearted skipping across the Art Museum Bridge to the Group Home with three hits because Russell said it was ok to drive to Reading in the Group Home’s station wagon. (Of the three of us, I’m the only one who has a driver’s license.) I know if I can drive straight to Reading I won’t start peaking until we’re safely at the concert. Only Russell is still sleeping when I get there, informs me on waking up that he has never done acid before, but . . . he still wants to do it — just Billy doesn’t. So me and Russell drop. Billy shows up with congas, tambourines, cow bells, and other musical instruments we all played together on the front porch of the group home listening to “All Day Music,” and Billy has a jug of wine. We all take off but by this time two of our charges have decided to come to. We’re all Black and I’m the only White guy. About ½ way to Reading, Billy decides he wants to drop his hit into the wine bottle and sip it slowly – because everything in the car seems so warm, so soft, so sunny, so wonderful.
We are really having a nice time. It’s a beautiful morning. Russell and I are up front in the station wagon and getting everybody into the groove of being outside Philadelphia (for the first time for most everybody but me) and on our way to an all-day concert with a band we already know and love and have been playing along with on the porch for the past year. We will be in our element for sure.
But I started to peak just one exit too early, panicked, got off the Interstate and somehow got the station wagon positioned as the front car in some small, all-white, town’s Memorial Day Parade. Russell started to freak, Billy tried laughing, the kids were afraid. (It was only 25 years earlier that there were regular lynchings in parts of the U.S.)
I just drove steady to try not to get any more attention than we were already getting. The parade route was short. At the edge of town I pulled over to ask a pedestrian passing by which way to the fairgrounds. As the passerby leaned towards Russell’s passenger window, he appeared to be in a fun house mirror with a foot-long, way-too-slender, wavy face, and hollowed-out eye sockets, – and we all thought we all saw this scary mongoloid of a person – so I kept right on driving without waiting for an answer with “oh’s” and “ah’s” and “did you see him’s?” coming out everybody’s mouths. Fortunately the road I was on led right to the fairgrounds and I quickly parked in the first spot I saw.
Tomorrow: All Day Music
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