Posts Tagged ‘Judy Beisler’

I updated my End of the Beginning post and somehow none of it was saved, so, try, try again. The title comes from a song by my good friend and talented singer/songwriter John Flynn : http://johnflynn.net  You can hear the song there.

The lovely and talented John Flynn

The songs resonates with me because I realize there are far more years behind me than there are ahead. I have lost one parent:

Sterling L. Hornsby Sept. 27, 1920-Dec. 24, 2009

My mother is 90 and a half, and I don’t think it will be long before I become a motherless child:

Velma Ruth Stewart Hornsby, April 2, 1921-

Mother and Dad lived for 40 years in the old house where they watched 3 generations grow up:

family on the porch

grandchildren, great-grandchildren, even great-great grandchildren:


Jan. 2010 DFW Cemetery

The time came when Mother could no longer stay in that old house:

Our experiment with sending her to live in a fancy “assisted living” facility didn’t work out. After a mistake with her medication that almost killed her, my sister Gwen took Mother home with her.

Mother's lonely new home

So now I find myself at the beginning of the end, although I hope it’ll be a long time before I get there. John’s song says “The journey of a single step can begin with a thousand miles.” Here was where I started:

Shirley Jean Hornsby Sept. 1946

I grew up, went to college, got married:

Sept. 2, 1967

We had kids:

Baylor and Mom Oct. 1971

Jeff and Mom, Bangkok, July 1973

Then we had some grandkids:

Ashley b. Sept. 1, 1994

Amber and Autumn, Jan. 27, 1996

We got divorced, but later became friends again. I had some adventures, did a lot of traveling, met some interesting people and some great friends, mostly because of Arlo Guthrie:

Shirley, Arlo & Annie Aug. 1989

"Matterhorn" in Okemah, Ok.

Guthrie Center Fall Revival - Blunderites all

Guthrie Center 1996

John Flynn and the Flynettes, Okemah WoodyFest

To quote John again, I’m thankful “for old friends you can count on, even though their ranks are thinning.”

Alasdair and Shirley, Macchu Picchu. Miss you always

Dennis Lachappelle, best bus driver and best friend anyone could ever ask for.

Goodbye, old friend

There are others I dearly miss: dear, sweet Jack Dultz, Gay, who will always be sitting at the front table at the church, Gerry Harper – your daughter grew up to be as wonderful as you were, sweetheart. So many friends and loved ones gone but never forgotten.

Our sons grew up:

Baylor and Jeff

Our granddaughters are teenagers!

So, what happens next? I need to work on that Bucket list – maybe finish the mystery I started writing many moons ago. I have continued to write and get published – here’s the launch of the latest anthology from the Final Twist, Oct. 2011:

Shirley at Murder by the Book

Chorus of The End of the Beginning” “Oh, the journey you make, from the first breath you take, to your last dying day, the mystery will take your breath away …”

Kris Kristofferson, who accompanies John on this song, has a song with a similar line:

From the rockin’ of the cradle to the rollin’ of the hearse, the going up was worth the comin’ down. I do believe he’s right. Journey on …


Read Full Post »

I just spent several days in western Massachusetts with some of my dearest friends, hanging out, catching up, and attending 3 mighty fine concerts in the Alice’s Restaurant Church, now known as the Guthrie Center. We were the test audience for the 9 month tour that starts in a day or two – the Guthries Ride Again. Last time Arlo hit the road with the wife and kids, his youngest, Sarah Lee, was a little girl. Now she’s all grown up and has two little ones of her own. So does big brother Abe and sister Annie. Cathy has one little girl, but I have a feeling the Guthrie clan isn’t finished yet. All of them, along with “adopted” drummer Terry a la Berry Hall-Guthrie, will be doing shows all across the country, so be sure to see them if they come to your town.

As part of our attempt to have mini-20th anniversary of meeting each other in the Alps reunions as possible (does this sentence make sense?) Judy B. and I posed in front of the church with Sherry Hochman Bouldt. Sherry was a kid back then, and she dragged herself out of a hospital bed to make the trip. Her mom Joyce and Grandma Pauline came too. We all fell in love with Grandma and she let us be her grandkids too.  Here’s Sherry, Judy, and me, photo by Jay Rury:

Sherry, Judy and Shirley at Guthrie Center Oct. 2009

Sherry, Judy and Shirley at Guthrie Center Oct. 2009

On Friday, Arlo couldn’t make the show because he’d hurt his back. People were offered a refund, but only a few took it. The rest of us enjoyed a wonderful show put on by the Guthrie kids & grandkids – even the littlest one, Sophia, got into the act – in fact, she stole the show. Arlo and Jackie’s littlest, cutest kid, Sarah Lee, took her dad’s role in keeping things more or less together, and a fine job she did! There were too many special moments to include, but here’s a few: The 3 Guthrie sisters singing an old Leadbelly song, “Bring me ‘little water, Sylvie,” Abe’s son Krishna, whom I’ve seen grow up, doing some terrific guitar solos, Cathy Guthrie, who looks like an angel, singing one of the songs from her Folk Uke album (Willy Nelson’s daughter is the other half of the duo, and the songs are not … hmmm … well, there’s adult content and language) – “Sh-t makes the flowers grow” – and the antics of the little ones … Annie’s daughter Jacklyn and Sara’s oldest, Olivia, did a song called “Cousins” and Sophia sang along on “Don’t I fit in my Daddy’s shoes.”

We laughed, we cried, we had fun. The 2nd night, Arlo was able to come on for half the show, walking with the help of a walking stick. You had to look really close to see that he was not feeling quit his best – he’s a trooper and a pro.  The third night, some of the twinkle was back in his eyes, and when it came time to end the show, he sang one encore, and we got ready to leave, then darn if he didn’t start singing another – “This little light of mine” – and then another.  He was smiling when he said goodbye to those of  us still lingering after the crowd was gone. So were we.

Deb Fitzgerald brought a video of her wedding to Arlo’s bus driver for many years, Dennis, who was a dear friend to all of us. We gathered in Sue Schier’s (the flower lady) room and watched it. They were married last summer. Dennis, who worked for the state during the winter, was working 24/7 to clear the roads during a bad blizzard in December, and his big heart just gave out. They did have some years together before they finally married, and I’d never seen him happier. She told us how she would only agree to marry him if Arlo performed the service (he is licensed to do so, but rarely does), and if they could get married in the Guthrie Center church, and that’s what they did. Arlo wore a Hawaiian shirt … As we watched, we laughed, we cried, we had fun. That was the theme for the time we spent together.

Read Full Post »

Wavy Gravy is famously supposed to have said “If you can remember the ’60’s, you weren’t there.” That may be the case for you and many others of our generation, Mr. Gravy, but I do remember them, and I was there.  I kinda wanted to be a hippie chick, but my parents were strict, my college, Texas Tech, was in the middle of the Bible Belt, and my husband was a law student at Baylor University, then an Army captain, so my hippie plans didn’t work out for me.

Until August of 1989, when I answered the call from Arlo Guthrie to join him on a trip to Europe to avoid the commercialism and hype of the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. I wasn’t sure what might happen, thinking the other travelers might be aging, microbiotic-eating, shaggy-haired and bearded people with whom I couldn’t relate. I had am image of Arlo as a good guy, a hero of my youth, and I didn’t want to find out he had feet of clay. I took the chance anyway.  Boy, was I wrong on both account!

Shirley, Arlo and Annie, Matterhorn in the background

Shirley, Arlo and Annie, Matterhorn in the background

Thanks to Janet Alley, here’s a photo of some of my fellow travelers. The Japanese tourist, who look variously happy or terrified, weren’t part of our group:

Blundering through the Alps

Blundering through the Alps

Some of us tried to plan a 20th anniversary of our escape from the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, but we couldn’t pull it together. Instead, there were mini-reunions at various spots around the country. Here’s a photo of my mini-reunion at the WoodyFest with Judy B., Margaret Barton-Ross, T-Shirt Cathy and me – thanks to Shelley Caldwell for the photoshopping – note, this is still a work in progress:

Judy B., Margaret B-R, T-Shirt, Shirley at the Blundermaterhorn

Judy B., Margaret B-R, T-Shirt, Shirley at the Blundermatterhorn

The trip was the start of my new life. I met some wonderful people who are still my friends, and some I haven’t seen again but remember fondly. I discovered that Arlo Guthrie is who you want to believe he is, no feet of clay. And through him I did get to meet some amazing people – my guru, Ma Jaya, and my guru bai at Kashi Ashram, all of Arlo’s kids & his wife Jackie, a strong and fabulous woman, Kris Kristopherson, Richie Havens, and a bunch of other performers who came to the Indian River festivals in Florida in the early 1990’s. Oh yeah, at Thanksgiving 1989 a bunch of us reunited at Arlo’s Carnegie Hall show, and I got to go backstage, and one of my biggest heroes of all time, Pete Seeger, offered me some popcorn. I even met Wavy Gravy, who was standing in the pond at Kashi that represents the River Ganges, playing a ukelele and singing “The Old Gray Goose She Ain’t What She Used to Be.”   It was a surreal moment, and I’ll never forget it.

Twenty years ago, on the twentieth anniversary of the weekend that would change my life twenty years later (do the math) I was with Arlo & the Blunderites at a little hotel in either Austria or Switzerland. Some of us were sitting outside, when the hotel manager came out and said “Mr. Guthrie, we’re showing the Woodstock movie inside, do you want to watch it?” Arlo declined, but the rest of us decided it was a fine idea. The manager looked at Arlo, his hair now a reddish shade somewhat like a lion’s mane, and said “You know, you don’t look the same.” Maybe not, but he was the same inside, and still is, even though the dark curls are now all gray. Thanks, Arlo, for being who you are and for changing my life in such a good way.

Read Full Post »

I’ve finally recovered from the shock of actually being outdoors in Okemah, Ok. in 105 degree heat – with the wind chill factor, that was about 2000 degrees F! Surely, you say, being from Houston you should be used to that? And I say, “don’t call me Surely” – that joke just never gets old 🙂 and no, Houstonians, unlike mad dogs and Englishmen, don’t go out in the noonday sun. We rush from our air conditioned homes to our a/c cars to our a/c offices and rarely spend more than a few minutes in the sauna that is Houston from June through September.

Back to WoodyFest 2009. It was special for a couple of reasons – one, it was the 20th anniversary of the trip some of us took to Europe with Arlo Guthrie in his quest to avoid the hype and commercialism of the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. He called the trip Blunderman’s Adventure, because we were all subscribers to his newsletter, the Rolling Blunder Review. Those present for this mini-reunion were Judy B, Margaret B., Annie Guthrie, T-Shirt Cathy, and moi. We couldn’t find anything resembling the Matterhorn, so we improvised, with a lot of help from Shelley C., who wasn’t on the trip but wanted to be. We call it the Blundermatterhorn.

T-Shirt, Shirley, Margaret, Judy, Connie

T-Shirt, Shirley, Margaret, Judy, Connie

Did I say this was special for 2 reasons?, No, it was really 3 reasons.  While some of us were quietly sitting in the audience at John Flynn’s kiddie show:

Flynnettes at rest - Judy, Shirley, Connie, Nancy

Flynnettes at rest - Judy, Shirley, Connie, Nancy

Connie – it would be Connie, always the instigator, starting making arm motions to go with John’s song “Love takes a whole box of crayons.” Of course we had to join in, and John, either totally amazed by our skill and talent or so he could get us out of his line of sight, announced that the audience was about to witness the first performance of the Flynnettes, and next thing you know, there we were on stage!  We’ve been waiting by the phone for John or his booking agent, T-Shirt Cathy, to call and let us know when we’ll start touring with him, but so far, we’ve heard only the sound of silence. T-Shirt, we thought you were our friend!

Nancy, Connie, Judy, Shirley and John Flynn

Nancy, Connie, Judy, Shirley and John Flynn

Now for the third special thing that happened. Thanks to this blog, I was re-united with a relative who’d been lost from the family for a long time. Scott, my first cousin Marilyn’s son, had decided it was time to come home again, and he was searching for information about both his mother’s and father’s side of the family. He discovered my posts about my mother’s first husband, who died in WWII – his great uncle on his dad’s side, and found that we were related on his mother’s side, and he reached out to me. He also noticed I go to WoodyFest, 100 miles from his home in Oklahoma City, so we arranged to meet there.  Out in front of the Crystal Theater (at that time it was the Cry Theater, the other letters being burnt out) a beautiful young lady came up to me and I knew it was Scott’s wife Valerie. We hugged and cried and then Scott came over – 6’4 and the spitting image of his great-uncle Hulbert Robertson, and we hugged and cried some more and then we went into the Crystal to hear Rob McNurlin. I whispered  to Scott that my good friend Rob was a fine Christian clean-living fellow, and then Rob,  that dog, did a song about a chihuahua. Oh Rob …!

Rob McNurlin - he looks so innocent!

Rob McNurlin - he looks so innocent!

We stayed around to hear Annie Guthrie, who was a cute teenager on that Blunderful trip to Europe and has grown up into a lovely and talented mother of two. Then my new-found kin and I took off for lunch and some intense family bonding.

Shirley, Scott, Valerie and Woody

Shirley, Scott, Valerie and Woody

Valerie, Scott, Shirley Christmas in July

Valerie, Scott, Shirley Christmas in July

A good time was had by all. Valerie and Scott took care of me like I was a little old lady – in a good way. I kept trying to prove I wasn’t. All was well until we got to my motel. I got out of the car, started to step up on the curb, and fell flat on my face.  V & S rushed over, sure they’d killed me, and I brushed it off – “I meant to do that to show you how fast I could get up.”  Somehow I think they didn’t believe me. Val & Scott, it was a pleasure and an honor to spend time with you, and welcome back to the family, I love you both.

Finally the show was over and it was time to return to the Real World. As we headed for the cars, we ran into the fabulous David Amram, who hung out with Woody and Jack Kerouac and folks like that, and boy, can he tell some stories!  Here we are:

Judy, Shirley, David, Chuch and Connie

Judy, Shirley, David, Chuck and Connie

I remember a time when I couldn’t see why I’d ever need e-mail, and a couple of years ago when the library staff had to learn the new stuff the kids were doing, I scoffed at Twittering and Facebook and other toys that seemed like a waste of time. I’ve gotten over that feeling. Through my blog and Facebook, I’ve connected or reconnected with relatives, some I’ve never even met in person, old, old friends – hey David and Barbara, I’m talking about you 🙂 and made a lot of new friends.

Read Full Post »

How did I come to know Arlo Guthrie, you might ask. It’s a very long story, going back through several lifetimes. Here’s the short version: I always enjoyed his music, but as the years went by after the 60’s ended I kind of forgot about him. My life had hit some pretty big bunps, and I wasn’t feeling too good about anything. One day I read in the paper that Arlo Guthrie was performing at Rockefella’s, and I decided I should go. After all, I figured most of the hippies were long gone and he might not have much of an audience. My friend and I showed up and found it was SRO. We got seats just above the stage, and for the next 2 hours I was transported back in time through those old songs, back to when I was young and happy … when he walked off the stage he looked up, directly into my eyes, and I had the thought that he was gonna be important in my life. Then I had the thought that the other thought was nuts. He was a legend, how could I ever expect to even meet him?

Weeks went by. I started reading about him, and his father Woody, and gained enormous respect for both of them. Woody’s early life was not too different than my own father’s, lots of hardship and tragedy. Arlo’s great-great grandfather, Shadrack Guthrie, lived in Bell County, Texas, at the same time as my Great-Great Grandpa Elisha Erwin Stewart. Small world. I’d signed up for Arlo’s newsletter, The Rolling Blunder Review. One day I got an issue that asked for volunteers to accompany him on a trip to Europe in August, 1989. He wanted to avoid the commercialism of the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, and thought some of us might want to tag along. I thought it was a joke … but what if it wasn’t? It didn’t cost much – but I was pretty low on funds. I threw the paper away. Next day it was back on my desk. Same Day, I got a “pre-approved” credit card application with just the amount of credit I needed to pay for the trip. Who was I to argue with Fate? I signed up. So did 38 other Blunderites. The rest is history.

I’d worried a little that he might not turn out to be the great guy I thought he was. I didn’t need to worry. As soon as I laid eyes on him in the Frankfurt airport, I knew he was everything I’d hoped he’d be, and more … so much more.

It was a life-changing trip. I met some wonderful folks, most of them still friends to this day. Judy B. was one of them. Here’s Judy, Arlo & me at the Guthrie Center, aka Alice’s church in Great Barrington, Mass. Arlo bought in a few years back and now does concerts there. There are community outreach programs, lectures, and other fun stuff there too.Judy, Arlo & Me

Read Full Post »