This post is part of a series of annotations from the pages of Night People, Book 1 of Things We Lost in the Night, A Memoir of Love and Music.
From: Ch1, ORPHAN, P7
“As Dave’s ragtop shrank into the sharp-edged morning, another big part of my life calved off like an iceberg. I imagined them heading west toward Plainfield, gathering speed as they picked up Highway 40 toward Saint Louis.”
As mentioned in Night People, Les Silvey was determined to leave for California as close to his 21st birthday as he could. What nobody else seemed to realize was Les wasn’t exactly sure where he was going in California. He had a friend who played guitar there named Jerry and he knew the name of the town and I think he had a phone number. I wasn’t in the car that left for California that April morning in 1968 so I’m going by what I was told. The plan, if we can call it that, was to drive to Hollywood, and then ask for directions. Now that might work in Indiana, nothing was too far away. California, on the other hand, is vast. Another limitation, they only had enough money to buy gas for the trip. There was no staying in motels, they drove straight through with everyone taking a turn at the wheel. When told that the town that was their destination was something like 8 hours further north, near San Francisco, Les was forced to hock his guitar amplifier. When I asked them later what the first thing they did in southern California, they told me Les used part of the pawn shop money to buy them all matching bathing suits so they could go to the beach. They must have had an angel on their shoulder just to survive until I got there with my $40.