Today, we continue our walk along Tinker Street in Woodstock.
Laughing Bear Batik and Jarita’s Florist shop evoke some old memories. In an earlier post, I wrote about meeting Kentucky Kate in the original location of Maria’s Bazaar. Katie also worked at the batik shop, ironing clothes. Jarita’s is just about the only florist in town, so that’s where I go when it’s time to buy flowers for Donna’s grave.
I’ve buried two wives in the space of 20 years. Donna was a genuine San Francisco hippie and the mother of my children. She is buried, appropriately, in Woodstock Cemetery. Donna moved to New York City with me over 30 years ago. She hated the place. I can certainly understand that. New York can be a damnable hell hole, and the mid 70s was a terrible period of lawlessness and filthy streets.
Several times a year, I visit Jarita’s to buy flowers for Donna. I am so grateful to her for giving me my daughters.
She was buried in a Buddhist ceremony. Raised as an evangelical Christian, Donna searched all her life for spiritual grounding. She found that here in Woodstock, primarily in her women friends.
Katie was a great mandolin player and backup singer. She moved to Woodstock from Kentucky to become a star. The chaos of her private life stemmed from her inability to make a living. I’m not sure that she graduated from high school. The girl was hillbilly through and through.
Working two jobs barely kept Katie afloat. Like many musicians, she chose to work at menial jobs so that she could take off on a moments notice for any gig that might come up. The batik shop kept its inventory in a second floor room, where Katie worked. Often, I would visit her there while she ironed, so that we could discuss our next move in the music business.
Katie drove me absolutely nuts. Although everybody in town figured that I was after her butt, I never touched her. Her romantic life veered erratically from man to man, depending on who flattered her on a given night. She was a sucker for every Stage Door Johnny.
Audiences loved us when we played together. Big rooms wanted us. The Band used us as an opening act. Trouble was, as soon as we started to advance in the business, one of Katie’s Stage Door Johnnies would tell her that I was excess baggage, that she was really the star and that she should dump me. And, she did.
Katie would then form her own band. That band would inevitably fail, because she was a backup singer without a repetoire. A couple of months after her band failed, Katie would call me up and we would start all over again. We cycled through this drama several times before I gave up completely and refused to even speak with her.
Katie has long since returned to Kentucky. I haven’t heard from her in 20 years.