Here’s the Tudor house on Delaware where I grew up. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we’d been desperately poor all our lives until my Dad was made head of the biochemistry department at the University of Illinois. Suddenly our lives got a lot more plush. Unfortunately, I got into huge confrontations with my Dad while growing up (see my eBook, “The Steam Tunnels”). I was headed down a counterculture path by the time I turned 15, and my Dad was really opposed to that direction. I had to run away several times before I could even grow long hair. Eventually, we worked out a truce of sorts, and I moved down into the basement and began transforming it into a psychedelic playground.
Right before I moved down there, however, I’d put an Eldridge Cleaver for President poster in the second floor window of the room my brother and I shared (left corner). When my Dad saw that poster from the sidewalk, he flipped out and ran upstairs and destroyed it. I was wearing this blue hat that said “LSD” at the time, long before I actually took any LSD. I’d just gotten a bass guitar and met the most beautiful girl in town, a blonde named Carole, who lived with her mother and grandfather in Champaign. She was my age, a year behind my brother at Uni High (see “Smartest Kids in Town”). One week-end I found myself walking to her house after a Finchley Boy’s concert, with two or three other couples who wanted to make out. I’d never made out in my life, and neither had Carole, far as I know. It was her girl friend’s idea. When we got to the basement, we kept the lights off and everybody just sort of settled into a comfortable position in the dark. Carole said we could snuggle, but no making out. That was cool with me. I put my arm around her waist at some point and she said, “Watch that hand, don’t move it any higher.” I was a real stupid chuckle-head at the time, and when she said that, I immediately started inching my hand up toward her breasts. I wasn’t even trying to cop a feel to be honest, I was just trying to be funny. But it wasn’t funny. Carole erupted immediately, and threw us all out of her basement. She was steaming mad. I walked home knowing I had just squandered the best opportunity of my life. I learned an important lesson that night. See, you have to be super respectful of girls, otherwise they won’t trust you. Carole was shy and sensitive, just like me, and instead of building a foundation for a possible relationship, I’d broken all sense of trust. I hoped I could repair the damage, if I just kept working on her, which I would of course.
Photos of Carole back in the ’60s are hard to come by, but I did locate this one, so you get an idea of just how gorgeous she was. Is this not the classical face of an Alice in Wonderland archetype that inhabits our collective unconscious? Carole had the most incredible blonde hair that reached all the way back to her ass. Her father’s side of the family was from the South, and she had a real Southern Belle quality. She could really talk up a storm, and had a way of touching you while she talked that seemed like a come-on, but it wasn’t. She also made her own clothes and was almost as good at rock’n’roll fashions as Mary Shirley. Carole was a brainiac; her specialty was Russian literature and she was one of the top Russian scholars in the country at the time, which was great, because I loved Tolstoy, Chekhov, Nabokov and a bunch of other Russian novelists. Only I was reading translations and she was reading all these books in Russian. Carole was always helping people out when she could. She spent several hours every week reading books to blind people. Her mom was super cool and liked me from the start, although her grandfather seemed highly protective of her. Unfortunately, he passed away right after I met Carole and that was another trauma she had to go through. The day after the funeral Carole had a vision he’d come to visit her late at night in her room to tell her he was all right. Unfortunately, very soon, an unexpected development would put an end to my fantasies of going steady with Carole.