There is no one left, not of my age…

This is a complaint, a cry, with no one of my age and of certain shared experiences to listen.

If the three in this picture, other than I, were alive I could share this link [since broken, an old comedy], then reminisce with Diane, or Patricia, or Fred; then, we probably would make odious comparisons between the innocent and truly funny comedy of yesteryear and the expletive-laden and coarse, or relentlessly political ‘humor’ of today.

Old friends gather at the home of Andrea Pavellas Slosarik and Ken Slosarik, 2007: (L to R) Diane Pavellas, Patricia Larsen, Ron Pavellas, Fred Pape.

The link above takes you to one of Johnny Carson’s shows in 1992 when he had as guest performers the Smothers Brothers, Dick and Tommy, who are at and within two years of my age. Johnny Carson, now dead, was 12 years older. I saw the Smothers Brothers perform, gratis, at San Francisco City College where I was attending, 1958-1960. They were just starting out and became very popular within a short time. They were Californians, as I was, and when they became wealthy, they bought and developed wineries in the wine region of Northern California.

There is much to say about them and Johnny Carson, but I can’t, not with those who would understand the underlying nature of the times and places we then lived in.

I struggle to find words to describe the feelings that this recorded performance and these memories evoke, that wash over me and thrust me onto a barren beach. A kind of emptiness, a hollowness, an ancientness.

I cannot go further.

I don’t cry, for I have already accepted my circumstance. But I do, deeply, miss my friends,

… and truly funny comedians.

Gin & Tonic

My first taste was at age twenty-one when I was a driver for an old salesman of agriculture-industrial belts in the valleys of California between the coast and the Great Central Valley.

Mr. Brett couldn’t see or hear too well, but he loved his life-long job. He hired me as his eyes and ears and for my driving capabilities (I was a good driver, having learned at age fifteen).

My life was on hiatus between the US Navy and San Francisco City College; I, needed something remunerative to do before classes started.

Mr. Brett paid me $1.50 per hour, plus lodging and food along the way. At the end of each day, we would register at a hotel in Salinas, or San Luis Obispo, or a smaller town, and go to the hotel bar for a gin and tonic.

As Ernest Hemingway would undoubtedly have said under the same circumstance, “it was good.”

As a native San Franciscan and a city boy (the family lived five years in Brooklyn before repatriating), I was fascinated by the atmosphere of rural California, where all its real wealth then was, perhaps still is.

The rhythms were slower but more purposeful; perhaps the purpose was clearer and certainly more fundamental. We’re talking about food here: garlic and onions in Gilroy, broccoli in Greenfield, salad vegetables in Gonzales (now grapes), more towns and crops than I can remember, now fifty-six years ago.

I’m currently sipping on my second G&T, and these memories are flooding back.

I was twenty-one, I had served as well as this geek could in the US Navy as an electronics tech, and I was now entrusted with the safety of this kind and loquacious man who lived in Marin County, near San Rafael. His family accepted me graciously; I realize now they wanted to assess my ability to care for their paterfamilias.

Ah, sweet memories. Ah, gin and tonic.