I was 17 years old when my girlfriend Sue Wallace asked me to go with her on a bus trip from Seattle to Spokane. She wanted to visit a friend of hers who had moved there, and her parents said she could take the Greyhound bus if I would go with her. The plan was to spend the weekend with her friend and then take the bus home again.
I don’t remember too much about the visit except what happened Saturday night. I can’t even remember the name of the people we stayed with, but I do remember Saturday night.
At 17 I was a naive and innocent teenager so when the girl told her parents we were going to a school dance, I thought we were. I remember her brother dropping us off in front of the school, and after he was out of sight, we got into a car with other teenagers and drove off into the woods. I was strictly an innocent bystander. The party in the woods was a kegger and there were a lot of people there drinking beer. What I remember that Saturday night is meeting a boy by the name of Larry Haas. I don’t remember what attracted me to him but I remember sitting on a log and him quoting poetry to me.
The poetry was by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I was very impressed with his knowledge of this poet and his poetry; he could recite all of the poems from the book called “A Coney Island of the Mind.”
When the evening came to an end, Larry asked me if he could drive me back to the house. I explained to him that we had to return to the school and I needed to be with the people who brought me. And I wouldn’t have gone with him anyway because he had been drinking.
The next morning when we woke up, the parents of the girl we were staying with said she was sad to see that Larry Haas died last night when he drove his car off a winding road.
That is all I remember of the trip; I don’t even remember going home on the bus or how I felt when I got home. I never told anyone about that night, but I’ve never forgot it. I can’t remember why but it recently came to mind.
Today while browsing in a charity shop in Toledo, Oregon, I found a little book on the shelf, marked free.
The book was “A Coney Island of the Mind” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.