Greenwich Village

     During the mid ’60s, my home boy Benny and I drove in his 1956 Buick Century Riviera to Greenwich Village in search of some action. His dad gave him the car when he returned from the Army. It was a two toned looker and had a hot engine that prompted other young motorist to see what it could do. Being that the trip from Philly was a long journey, we decided to stay overnight. We rented a sleazy hotel room in the village. In fact it was on the eve of the hippie era. That evening we found a coffee house with folk music entertainment—better known at the time as a hootenanny. It was just after the fad of bongo beating bearded beatniks— also known as bohemians.

Greenwich Village coffee house

Greenwich Village coffee house

The predominant culture of Haight Ashbury had invaded the village, making beatniks and the saying “daddy-o” passé. The white chicks were sociable, like the gals who hung out around Rittenhouse Square–the park in downtown Philly. We were decked out in collegiate attire with matching sky blue blazers; whereas most of the other folks were more casual and grubby looking.

     Most of the chicks had the Joan Baez part in the middle of the hair look. A ruddy looking red head came over and asked if we wanted a cup of espresso.
     Not knowing what she was talking about, I asked, “What’s that?”
     She replied, “It’s an ultra-efficient caffeine delivery system. How ’bout it?”
     “Sure. Ok,” I replied.
     I knew she was joking, but didn’t want to reveal that I was lacking class. On the other hand, Benny was hip to it; since he had recently done a tour in Germany while in the Army. I said to him that I was looking for an express alcohol delivery system instead.
     “Don’t worry,” he said, “I brought our own.”
     While in the club listening to the sounds of some guitar strumming, banjo picking folk singers, we’d spike our espresso with spirits from a flask Benny had hidden in his inner blazer pocket. Benny and I had a history of getting stoned during our teens; however, when he discharged from the Army he became worse. On the weekends he always maintained his flask and stayed tight. I’m sure the waitress was wondering why our cups managed to stay so full.

A hootenanny hillbilly

A hootenanny hillbilly

     Meanwhile, some country looking hick in denim overalls with a southern draw and wearing a plaid shirt came in and ordered a drink called a café latte. After he slapped the waitress on the butt, she said stop Billy Joe and yanked the hat off his head—I presume so he could present himself as a gentleman. The dude surprised the heck out of me, because he had a lot more class than I did. I had pegged him to order a can of mountain dew, prop his cowboy boots up on the table and pull out a straw to put in his mouth.

      I guess the moral of this story is to never under estimate the intellect of any dude who looks like a hillbilly.

To be continued

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