Friday, December 17, 2010
How Did You Come to Vashon Island?
I had dreams about the island and Mt. Rainier all that summer.
I love to hear people tell how they stumbled on this island, and ended up living here. Here, I'll get the conversational ball rolling:
When I was going to school at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, back in the 60s, I was in a country-folk-rock band. The band consisted of Van, my sweetheart, on lead guitar, me as chick singer, Randy on rhythm guitar and dobro, Bruce as bass player, and a long line of drummers who came and went. That was when I learned that drummers as a rule are goofy, to put it mildly. I don't mean to impugn the whole class of percussionists, I'm just saying that rock drummers are predictably unpredictable.
Anyway – Randy met a married couple named Marc and Chrissie who were also old-timey musicians. Marc played wicked fiddle, Chrissie played banjo and guitar and autoharp and they both sang. We became friends and played music together, until Van and I moved to Los Angeles in 1969 to become rock stars.
Seriously. That was the plan.
After that Randy played gigs in San Luis Obispo with Marc and Chrissie. In 1971, just before I moved out of LA, I got a letter from Bruce the bass player. He said, "Bummer in the summer. Marc and Chrissie have moved to Seattle." Marc had apparently graduated from Cal Poly – who saw that coming? - and acquired a job up in Seattle.
Sometime around Christmas 1971 I received a letter from Marc. He and Chrissie had moved to an island, the letter said, and had met a couple of musicians who lived there. They were planning to build a concrete sailboat and sail around the world playing music, but they needed a singer. Marc invited me to visit. No one had ever literally invited me to sail off into the sunset before, so I quit my job, packed my '58 Chevy with a few necessary belongings, and drove up for a visit.
I arrived at the Fauntleroy ferry dock on April 16, 1972. Once on Vashon I followed the traffic up the highway, and it was right around the nursing home and the Episcopal Church that I knew: this is home.
I drove up to the main intersection, and using the pay phone there called my friends to let them know I had arrived. About 12 minutes later, up drove a VW beetle with a police car paint job - white doors, blue fenders, and eagle decals on the doors - with Chrissie waving at me over the shoulder of the young hippie driving. She jumped out of the car and introduced me to Rick Tuel. Yes, he was the very first person I met on the island, but we didn't get married until seven years later. Slow learners.
Now, there is quite a convoluted tale of that trip, but we'll skip that for now. I returned to California after a couple of weeks, but the island had taken hold in me. I had dreams about the island and Mt. Rainier all that summer.
In November of that year, I came back and decided I would move here. On January 4, 1973, I started driving north and arrived here on January 5 after driving all night through a snow storm. I had about $37 to my name. I moved into a house full of hippies, and stayed.
Interesting (to me) fact: my first son was born exactly nine years later on January 5, 1982, during a snow storm. Second interesting (to me) fact: my first boy friend on Vashon Island moved off the island after we broke up and went on to be Microsoft employee number 9.
A question I've never been able to answer is how Marc and Chrissie got here, because they soon got S-A-V-E-D and moved off the island to join a large evangelical church which later dissolved in lawsuits and acrimony. They got me here, though, and I never left.
So what's your island story?