Not that Woodstock…
No, not that Woodstock either….
I wasn’t at Woodstock in ’69.
I was in Northern Chile,
contracting amebeotic dysentery.
And that other Woodstock
is the cute-little-yellow-bird-friend-of-Snoopy
from the imagination of Charles Schultz.
My Woodstock comes by dint of the scheme
an auto-shop-teacher worked out
with the mucka-mucs
at the school where he and I taught
200 years ago when I was
in my young twenties.
took-in dilapidated VW Beatles,
rebuilt and sold them on the cheap
to fellow teachers and our students
who’d passed Drivers Ed.
The profits went to the shop for
tools, paint and, well, stuff.
The Bugs would operate wonderfully
for about 30,000 miles,
(if you were lucky).
Then we’d trade them in for a new creation with
new tires, new paint and a rebuilt engine.
So, of course,
we all bought our own special made VW Bug –
and then another and another…
The school parking lot looked like
My first Bug was a canary-yellow Beatle.
I named him Woodstock!
I always name my cars and trucks.
My new one is a 2020 Honda HRV named…..
(Actually, I’ve always had problems
getting too emotionally cozy with inanimate objects)
I had this 20th Century
named Princess Ann Victoria Ashley,
after the three daughters of a buddy of mine.
the girls named my truck after themselves!
I called her PAVA for short
until one time I told
one of my classes about her
and one of my Spanish speaking students
started laughing so hard she was crying.
When I asked, “Que Pasa, Chicka?”
she told me,
through her chuckles and tears,
that in her country,
PAVA was the word for turkey,
so I changed PAVA to Joe.
When we first met,
I took Sheri,
for a long ride in Woodstock.
with long, frilly-red-mahogany hair,
dark brown eyes,
and a tail that wagged back and forth
in time with her ass
as she ran, contorted,
across the athletic field
after she just couldn’t stay
where I’d put her anymore
when I’d run away, yelling,
“Stay, Sheri! Stay!”
she TOOK THAT about as long as she could
and then she’d sprint after me,
run circles around me,
trip me up,
her sloppy, floppy, tongue
hanging out the side of…
Did I mention that Sheri was a dog?
No! Not ugly!
As in “Canine”!
Sheri was my dog.
A wonderful Red-Setter-Soluki mix
I inherited from a friend in Oklahoma
after I drove her,
there in Woodstock,
from Silver Springs, Maryland to Tulsa,
to help Bob, my friend,
build his new house…
Bob’s daughter and her husband and kids
had owned Sheri until one of the kids
developed K-9 alergies –
(I would have adopted out the kid) –
but Bob said he’d take her…, Sheri,
if I would drive Sheri to Tulsa
to help him…, Bob,
build his new house…
But it turned out that
two days after we got to Tulsa,
Bob announced that he wanted
for his brand new house in Tulsa.
Sheri was everything else
Sheri was a gentle-friendly-fleet-footed-lover-
of the human race
and me, mostly,
definitely not a guard dog…
Bob said, “Well, I don’t want her!”
and I said, “Well I do!”
and after the house was finished,
Sheri and I drove down to Brownsville, Texas
just to say we had been at the border…
and then we drove north
to the Canadian border with upstate New York
just to say we’d driven there, too.
By that time Woodstock was approaching
sniffing distance to 30,000 miles,
so I figured just about anything
I did to him was OK,
before we drove
down to Brownsville, Texas,
up to the Canadian-New York border
back down to Silver Springs, Maryland,
where the school was located…
I switched out the passenger and back seats,
leaving them in Tulsa for Bob to use
in a VW van he was rebuilding….
( seems like everybody in my world was either
rebuilding or driving rebuilt Volks Wagons)
and installed some cinder blocks
and a two piece-
“L” shaped-7-feet-long by 4-feet-wide-
with a foam-rubber-cover
while Sheri drove…
Wanted to see if you were still listening!)
where I slept like a baby
warmed by a quilt,
my feet under the dash board,
head on a pillow near the engine…
(You remember, don’t ya that
old VW engines are in the rear?)
Sheri could chose either the drivers seat
or she could curl-up right beside me
behind the drivers seat,
softly snoring on some pillows Gloria,
covered by another quilt Ma Childers,
made 400 years earlier
and gave to Sheri for our travels.
By the time September came
and school was beginning again soon,
and the wandering trio,
Me, Sheri and, by now, an oil-guzzling-Woodstock
arrived back in Maryland,
I looked and smelled
exactly what I was by then,
A rootless roust about
with a beautiful red dog
who understood me better than
any other living being ever did
up to that time….
both of us tinged
with a slight oder of motor-oil.
That was fifty years ago.
Hit by a car,
not a Volkswagon,
on the street that ran in front of the school.
She just got a wander-lust and broke off from
her usual poop runs on the football field.
All the students came to her funeral
in the little yard
right outside my classrooms fire exit.
Even the football players came,
forgiving Sheri for her deposits
she left on their playing fields.
Did I tell you Sheri came with me
every day to school for eight years?
So all the students knew and loved her.
Students, four and five years graduated,
came to visit her grave and leave flowers…
I have an old photo of Sheri
wearing a Micky Mouse hat
on a Senior Class Trip to Disneyland.
She was a chaperone.
I’m retired, old and married, now,
to a woman who never knew Sheri
but for photos and some stories I tell,
like this one.
I’ve loved Nancy longer than I did Sheri
and for a lot better reasons,
every once and a while,
I hear Sheri bark.
I see her running across that field,
with her lopsided gait,
right into my arms.
And I’ll remember the time she was
running with me on
the Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac…
The river was up from the Spring melt and…
That’s another story.
You never lose the souls you love.