We were on our Honeymoon traveling to from Rome to Brindisi. We just finished our incredible adventure from England to France, Amsterdam, Germany, Spain and Italy. It was a two and a half month whirlwind backpack tour to see the sights and sounds and taste the
flavors of Europe.
We were on a train using what was left of our Eurail Pass. The train was filled to the brim with travelers … mostly locals and a few tourists. Since Mary Anne spoke some Italian she got a seat among some local Women. They were chatting up a storm and eating the lunch they brought with them. One was eating some really stinky cheese. The other was coursing down a can of anchovies. Oh, I thought … this is gonna be a long and memorable trip.
I was standing in the vestibule minding my own business. There was a kind of swarthy-looking guy standing next to me. We both had long hair (which in 1971 was generally assumed to a sign of common interests in music and popular culture).
He was smoking a joint. And, after a few puffs he offered to share his Inebriant with me. I willingly participated. I’m not sure how long we stood In the vestibule but, now that I look back at a map on Google, the train ride was just short of six hours. To me it seemed like about an hour. I guess it was some pretty good pot.
John was a Brit. He grew up in the southwestern England area. That’s all I remember about his personal history. I’m guessing our conversation Was mostly of a gestalt nature .. where are you heading? Why do you Know about Greece? Do you speak any Greek? Where will you stay When you get there? Etc., etc.
John didn’t seem to have any set plans and neither did we. It was a really interesting two and half months of travel. No set plans. No Reservations. We camped on a hillside, along a river’s back, on a mountaintop .. it didn’t matter. Well, actually we might have had a plan to set up our tent at a campsite on Brindisi. John followed us. We spent a few Nights at this place. I don’t remember much except that a bottle of Retsina … Greek wine was five Dramas equal to $2.15 in US dollars. Lets just say that we consumed quite a bit of Retsina over the next few days.
In the campsite we met up with a few other wayward travelers. Two blonde girls From Silver Spring, Maryland. They were the type who finished each others sentences. Always entertaining.
All of a sudden our twosome was now a foursome. Nobody had a plan or aa agenda. We just wanted to travel and have some fun.
As I recall, our group grew to seven or eight. We moved onto Athens and then to camping on the beach on the Island of Siros. Ah, Siros. Somebody at the American Express told us about this island. You take the boat from Athens and land into the Port of Siros. Then you take a bus to the far end of the island. But, wait… we landed around Midnight. No bus. No hotel. Just a sleepy little port town. What are a bunch of weary innocent travelers to do? John went for a walk and about 10 minutes later came back with riding on the back of small truck. He met a Church Sexton who was deaf. But, that didn’t matter because none of us spoke Greek. He waived us over to his living quarters that was cut into a stone outcropping. He brought out a lantern and pointed to the stone patio suggesting we camp out there for the night. He even brought us some wine. We spent the night under the stars. It was glorious. The next morning we met his sister who spoke some English. We asked her to thank her brother and we se set out for the morning bus.
Just as it was described, we rode the bus to the other side of the mountain. Got off the bus. Walked around the peak of.a small mountain and there it was… a lovely beach…with figs you could pick off of the trees and a wonderful nude beach.We spent a few days there fishing, cooking and frolicking around. And, then we headed home.
I think John’s last name was Rolfe.
Maybe he was a decendant of the famous Brit, John Rolfe who was credited with exporting tobacco. Pot? Tobacco? Wouldn’t that be ironic?
John visited us years later when we lived on Staten Island. It felt like time had never
Passed. Still Gestalt. But, that was the last time we ever saw him.
I was discharged from the Army Ian 1968. A year later I found myself
In Los Angeles. Again, just randomly hanging out… looking for an
adventure. My roommate, Larry flew back to NY for his Grandfather’s
funeral. I was on my own. With no nearby friends and no plans, I
decided to hitchhike to Malibu Beach. Why Malibu Beach? I remember
reading an article back east that the actress, Carol Lynley lived near
the beach and maybe I could bump into her when I walked along the
edge of the surf. Hey, I was a kid with a dream.
Anyway, there I was standing on the corner of Sunset Boulevard sticking
my thumb out looking for a ride. And, along comes a Chevy Impala
Convertible with NY license plates. A guy pulls up next to me and says,
in a British accent, Hey, Mate… need a ride? Very innocently, I said, Sure.
I hopped in and off we went. The standard stranger conversation ensued.
Where are you from? What do you do? What are you doing in LA?
It turns out that Mr Chevy Man was an accountant. Recently divorced.
Moved down from San Francisco to LA and took a job with on of the
major film studios. He didn’t know anybody and here I was a possible
friend. For sure you might think this connection had the potential to go
south very quickly. Well, I’m pleased tor report it didn’t take me anywhere
I didn’t want to go.
We got to to Malibu, parked the car and we went for a beach walk.
I don’t really recall what we talked about but, I do remember that the
conversation flowed pretty comfortably. I looked for Carol Lynley up and down the beach
but, to no avail. She missed a great opportunity. Or, so I thought.
A few hours passed and we returned to Sunset Strip. Malibu Man (I never did get his name), asked me if I’d like to join him for dinner one evening after work. I said, sure but
I was pretty broke and couldn’t afford any place that charged more than
a few bucks for a hamburger. He said I shouldn’t worry about the cost
So, we met for dinner a week or so later. Again, we had a delightful
conversation and he drove me back to my apartment.
This dinner thing continued on for a few more weeks. Nothing sordid.
just two ships meeting in the open sea of life.
And, then Larry and I moved up to San Francisco. I never saw Chevy Man again. And,
I never figured out why he had NY license plates. I guess that was just another mystery
of the universe.