Memories of Monte Capanno 1970, Page Seven: Our Memories of Each Other

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"I remember You."  After 30 years, isn't it OK now to share the most unforgettable things we recall about one another and our lives there?  What do you recall about any of the other students and guests?

re: Wes Shaffer"I traveled with Wes Shaffer, and highly respected him. He introduced me to all the art museums and gave me an excellent education about the history of the place and its art.  He was engaged to a girl named Susan while we were in Monte Capanno.  He was like a big brother -  seemed to "take me under his wing" so to speak, since I was pretty fragile in those days...  In reality, he probably "put up with me" the best he could.  He and Rich Saunders visited me and my first husband in the Santa Cruz mountains in October 1970.  (Soon after Jimi Hendrix died.)   In '73 or so, ... he wrote me from Paris.  He was writing a nonfiction book (science or history), I believe.  I vaguely remember that he and Susan later lived in L.A. while working on their masters." (by Cathee)
 

re: Rich Saunders:"Heating the farmhouse was a real issue, and lots of the guys --and at Monte Capanno wood splitting was a gendered task-- chipped in to create firewood from a heap of large olive logs at least 100 muddy yards away from our farmhouse.  I recall that Rich and Wes often were there doing the job with the saws and axes.  I doubt any of the rest of us became the woodsman that Craig was (and still is), but I often have wondered if Rich (and Wes) were drawn to wood heating since Monte Capannno.  If so, my bet is that they prefer wood stoves, and split, dry, seasoned hardwood --the very opposite of what we attempted to use at Monte Capanno." (by Gordon)

"... [y]ou kept us from freezing. Many thanks after all these years." (by Mary Zuccaro Charvat, July 2001)

"Wes and Rick have begun their journey back home - leaving this afternoon with brand new haircuts as a safeguard against America's harsh politics.  They're hitching across country.  Can't say I really envy them - I only hope they'll be okay.  Gawd.  Going back home.  What a drag!  Right now I'd rather not think about the U.S. and all the shit that's going on there..." (from Cathee's diary, May 19, 1970, to read more please go here)

"Rick Saunders and I quickly decided that our job at Monte Capanno would be chopping wood, mainly because neither of us felt we had any other worthwhile skills beyond dumb physical labor. As it turned out, the job was a godsend. Communal life has its drawbacks, the most significant of which is a seemingly endless clash of personalities. But Rick and I quickly discovered that chopping wood was by far the most effective means of working off tensions and frustrations. Those of you who recall our seeming self-sacrifice at the woodpile in freezing weather were duped. We were simply mellowing out." (by Wes Shaffer, February 2001)

re: Terre Eakins "Terre Eakins became the secretary treasurer.  She has a mean mind for such things, and can sit with a count twenty minutes as he misadds, then direct him gently to the difference in their systems.  Terre is a fundamentalist Christian.  More on that, probably." (from the Diary of David Zack, Feb. 17-18, 1970... go here to read more)
 
 

re: Chris Klyce: "Chris Klyce just came through the door to borrow a rug to do the yoga exercise.  Chris is very much into yoga.  She fasted four days recently.  Chris and Mark Fissel are our trip vegetarians." (from the Diary of David Zack, Feb. 17-18, 1970... go here to read more)

"I watch and admire those around me who can catch an eye... beautiful women like [p]eaceful Chris Klyce." (from Cathee's diary, March 2, 1970... go here to read more)
 
 

re: Mark Fissel: "When people ask Mark if he is a man or woman, since he wears his hair to his shoulders, he either says he is a watermelon or a man from the Moon.  I believe the latter." (from the Diary of David Zack, Feb. 17-18, 1970... go here to read more)

 
"A long-haired figure came approaching up the road leading to the house, hurried gait, stumbling, stooped over, knapsack on his back, something in his hand, a long black sword.  Terry says "It's Mark!" and the guy drops his sword and goes running, dashing towards Terry, hugs him-- then handshakes and greetings to everyone else.  "Where did you get that sword," "I got it in Spain," "did you have any trouble traveling with it," "No, I think I was so open about it nobody thought it was anything but weird," "How was Ibiza," "It's a long story, man," "Come up and have a smoke," "No thanks, man, I've stopped smoking dope."  We go into the house, Andrea has to go back to his castle, affectionately pinches Mark's cheek, "Take it easy, Don Quixote." (from Joel's diary, May 21, 1970, go here to read more)
 
"Mark, I do remember you with the sword and "playing in the backyard" with it!  I had an aversion to those things then and understand why now." (by Sandee, Nov. 2000)


re: Craig Morem:"[E]verytime there was a break and I asked for questions Craig Morem would stand up very blond with a bottle and say, 'Does anyone else need more vino?' " (from the Diary of David Zack, Feb. 17-18, 1970... go here to read more)  "Craig readied for Europe with the purchase of an Eddie Bauer down jacket and other gear that pointed to an Arctic expedition.  I thought then that all this was overdoing it, but then snow fell on our first day in Germany, a day when we were out dealing with 'Honest Otto,' the used car salesman; only Craig stayed cozily warm.  And as the snow and cold lingered into April at Monte Capanno, his foresight proved remarkable.  The rest of us may have felt frozen down on the farm, but Craig, the woodsman, was prepared for anything that nature might throw our way.  I understand this approach is still his way.  When we made contact with Kathy Roberts in Fall 2000, she reported Craig to be out on a hunting expedition for moose and elk, in the wilds of northern British Columbia.  My bet is he suffered no frostbite." (by Gordon)

re: Linda Green"I watch and admire those around me who can catch an eye... Linda Green, so cute,  with the bounce in her voice." (from Cathee's diary, March 2, 1970... go here to read more)
 

"We both enjoyed calling you the other day from here.  The lines were supposedly clogged up for 3 hours from the time we tried, but Linda just got on the phone and charmed some man and the next thing we knew, we were connected with you in Altadena!  It's hard to deny that sometimes a woman truly has greater power than even the most persuasive man!!" (from Gordon's letters, July 1970)
re: Gordon Bowen"Funny, dominant Gordon Bowen.  ... The list of people I admire is endless..  (from Cathee's diary, March 2, 1970... go here to read more)

"[Gordon] had an interesting habit of tossing kerosene in the fire, which made a great roar. It was wonderful, and the tradition was picked up by Mary Zuccaro. Damned lucky we didn't burn the place down!" (by Mark F., December 2000)
 
 
 
 
 
 

re: Cathee (White) St. Clair: "[returning from Greece and Yugoslavia] I do remember I had arrived and took part in the wheat field run.   Some of the video Cathee took seemed as if it were filmed after that wheat field incident.  Just so you know, Cathee has always been the 'historian,' 'record the moment,' 'posterity' type.  I liked observing, being in the moment, and 'here today - gone tomorrow' type.  Yin-yang and Zen sort of thing appealed to me.  So, it amazes me how the movie camera got there!!!   Didn't we all gather together after we got back to the states and this film was developed and we all sat around watching it?" (by Sandee, December 2000)
 
 

re: Mark Cohen: "Interestingly, the most enduring relationship I enjoyed among my MC-70 comrades was that which I shared with Mark Edward Cohen. I say 'interestingly' because my first impression of 'Gomar' (he hated that nickname, which had been bestowed upon him for some reason by his Allen Hall dorm-mates) was incredulity. Who the hell was this guy? He was no hippie. And he couldn't be your classic nerd because he was a wild man.  Remember him strolling around Monte Capanno singing 'Jesus Christ Superstar' at the top of his lungs? Certainly his rabbi hadn't taught him the tune (in fact, he had been at a showing of the play in London just prior to heading to Italy). Over the years my respect for Mark Cohen continued to grow. He had academic skills, business acumen, a superb sense of humor, and was generous to a fault. Anyway- my favorite Gomar anecdote. As y'all recall, there were few proper washing machines on the farm (one at the Contessa's???), so items of clothing were handwashed and hung out to dry. So Mark Cohen washes his long underwear and hangs them upon the clothesline near the little farmhouse, near the haystacks. That night, a big freeze. In the morning, Cohen discovers his longjohns are frozen stiff as a board. No matter. He sets them up on a screen (or something) in front of the fireplace in the big farmhouse. But too close. They catch fire. I know slapstick humor isn't very sophisticated, but I will never forget Mark Edward Cohen frantically trying to extinguish his burning underwear.  You HAD to love the guy." (by Mark Fissel, December 2000)
 

"I am sure others will recall details of the burning long johns. As I remember it, it was on one of the space heaters that they fried; and I recall that some of the girls knowingly goaded him into this faulty placement. But whatever. They scorched.  I never fully realized Mark Cohen might have disliked 'Gomar' as a nickname. I hope it makes him smile now, at least. As one who speaks some Spanish, and yet calls himself 'gordo,' I think I accurately can claim to openly mock the modern tendency to be hypersensitive to cutting nicknames. We can all take ourselves too preciously. But we were 20-22 then, and his position has to be appreciated in the context of how 20-22 year olds define their identities, I suppose.   'Gomar,' as denizons of pop culture know, was the screen name of Jim Nabors, a sidekick on the 'Andy Griffith Show,' the 1960s T.V. sit-com set in a fictional rural North Carolina town of Mayberry. The original Gomar - in - videoland was a simple bumpkin, sympathetically portrayed.  (Ironically, I for nearly 20 years have lived in not too dissimilar a place: rural western Virginia). Clearly, Mark was not of that rural Southern culture, nor did his overall personality resemble Nabors'. But he did share with the Jim Nabors of later T.V. specials, as Fissel notes, a tendency to break into song at odd moments.  I have it on a reliable source that the real life Jim Nabors also was so inclined. He lived in North Hollywood, on Willowcrest, and often was observed belting out show tunes and even opera. My witness is none other than our Linda Green: for several years she was his next door neighbor in that suburban bedroom of Hollywood. ('And boy, did he have some parties...')  (by Gordon, December 2000)

The origins of the nickname "Gomar:"  "Mark went to Saratoga High School with me and Sandee.  (Graduated in 1968 with me).  We shared two Tutorials groups (Dr. Paul's & Dr. Rinn's)  before going to Italy.  He was one of the most genuine and trustworthy people I knew back then.  He was there when I went through a pretty embarrassing time, and he still treated me kindly and respectfully, even though I made a complete ass of myself.  I'll never forget him for that.  I can honestly say I loved Mark.  He came by the name "Gomar" during a camping trip our Tutorials group took in Carmel Valley.  We gave each other names from TV shows.  Wes was "Dumb Ol' Luke," I was "Kate."  I can't remember the nicknames for Barb and Mike White.   We found a little cottage called "Anastasia Oaks"  in the woods where we set up camp.  It must have grabbed our imaginations, and we created a pseudo-family using these names for each other.   I admired the way Mark and Wes graciously accepted their nicknames, though I doubt either of them really liked them.  Mark Cohen was a pure soul.  A good person through and through.  A breath of fresh air.  "Who will buy this wonderful morning?"  I think of Mark every time I hear that song.  What a legacy." (by Cathee, December 2000)
 

re Dierdra Rainer: "Throughout most of the rest of the world, people pretty much make do with the harsh realities of winter. But we were Californians for whom winter meant nothing more than putting on a sweater, perhaps a coat, and the occassional use of an umbrella. We were wholly unprepared both physically and emotionally for real winter. And so the delight and enchantment of the first snowfall at Monte Capanno quickly gave way to the realization that shit, its awfully fucking cold here! And it stayed that way, day after dreary day, week after endless week. A steady diet of spaghetti only served to fuel our distress (I recall walking out one night, raising my fist to heaven and declaring Scarlett O'Hara-like, "As God is my witness, I'll never eat spaghetti again!"). Tempers flared and we rather spiralled down into near hopelessness.

"One day as the weather offered the very first promise of spring, we were gathered around and in the fireplace, trying to stay warm, heads hung morosely, still rather deep into our winter gloom. In walked a beaming Dierdra with a tape player. As the first cut of Abbey Road broke the silence, she brought out a joint. Our spirits were instantly rekindled as we passed it around. Then she brought out another, and another and still another, a veritable cornucopia!  Dierdra had stashed her stash, hoarding it all winter, sharing it with us at just the moment it would do us most good. And it did. It was an act of kindness and generosity I'll never forget." (by Wes Shaffer, February 2001)

Re: John Dean: "You know Zack talked about his wife throwing things at him but did you know that John actually beat me.  Later through Europe he almost killed me.  I figured it was him or me.  We stayed in Europe for a year.  I left in Spain the night he almost killed me.  Almost getting killed and birth are really eye openers.  I suppose dieing is too.  Not there yet.... John was really a wonderful artist.  He distains it now.  He went on to be a lawyer until he realized he wasn't organizationally oriented (a few weeks later)  He's retired now in Spain, in the country.  I believe he's living in a farm house.  What he doesn't realize is that he is living an artists life. Text book.  He looks just the same except grayish.  I can't say the same. You'll have to get a recent photo of John from him.  I couldn't presume." (by Cindy Rippey, May 2002).

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