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Sunday, July 26, 2009

PATTI O

Pat, Nina & Eve

Pat, on the left, has been my friend for 34 years. She lives at Hillsdale, NY, a small town on the border with Massachusetts. We knew each other about a couple years in Charleston before I went to the mountains and she went to NYC. July 4th of 1976 we decorated her yellow Volkswagen in the night, and drove around the old part of the city dragging a bunch of tin cans in the early morning. We were dressed in thrift store dress up clothes from the 50s. The VW had signs all over it about 1976, Freedom and such. Once we scared a horse that was pulling a tourist buggy. The horse got a bit antsy when we went by dragging the cans. Some tourists with movie cameras filmed us going by, waving, shouting, "Happy Birthday America." Pat rang a brass dinner bell.

Sometime in 1976 we drove to Columbia, SC, to see the rock band Kiss. It was just before they filled auditoriums. We wore thrift store clothes that made us look like really cheesy new rich from Miami. A guy sitting in front of us turned his head to look at who sat behind him and double-took. We started talking. He thought we were cool. When he asked where we were from we told him Miami. We came to Charleston on our sailboat and rented a car to drive to Columbia to see Kiss. Initially, she was a friend of a friend of mine, lived 2 doors down the street. She was majoring in Art at the college, and worked at night as a cashier at a Pantry Pride grocery store in North Charleston. She worked her way through college there. By then, she was divorced and starting her life over, on her own terms.

We share taste in music and art, and much else. When we went to parties we dressed like geeks. One night we went with some other people to a place west of the Ashley, a dance place where they did disco. We were all dressed crazy and we'd get on the dance floor and dance non-disco and jerk around looking really stupid. The owner asked us to leave, but we thought we'd stay. Pat got involved in a watermelon eating contest that made me want to take some pictures, but didn't have camera along.

Down and out on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Pat hit rock bottom. Working in a little diner where threw a hamburger in the proprietor's face and walked out the door. Nothing worked for her. At her lowest point she met this guy named John and they took to each other. John is a resourceful guy, who does exquisite work laying rock, remodeling houses and apartments, restoring cars. They married and moved to upstate NY between Stamford and Grand Gorge, about midway. There, they raised two girls, Eve and Nina. John is the kind of dad who sat with Eve and Nina both on his lap watching Wizard of Oz every time they wanted.

Eve has only gotten A+ for a grade all through school. She chose to do undergrad at Columbia, when she was offered scholarships to big name schools. She wanted to go to Columbia so she could be in NY. On weekends she would tend bar at big parties and make a couple hundred dollars a night. By summer she had enough money to take off and go to Europe, Africa and South America with a back pack, staying at hostels. Every summer she took off and went someplace, networking with kids her age from all over. Now she's at a medical school in Maine.

Nina is the beauty. When I see her I'm struck by how much Uma Thurmond favors Nina. She was named for the mother of punk, Nina Hagen. Nina and Eve grew up hearing Patti Smith, Prince and Nina Hagen, mom's music and they still love it. Nina is beautiful and moves with a flowing grace. Her intelligence is equal Eve's, but she was always "Eve's sister," just a couple years behind her in school. She could get the same grades as Eve, but she wanted to be Nina, not Eve's Sister. Nina had a driven, inner need for experience that didn't include studying all the time. She chose her own way, because she didn't want to be a carbon copy of somebody else, anybody else.

Pat was always up front with them growing up. Any question they asked, she gave a real answer, not skirting around some things that would make a mother uncomfortable telling her daughter. She believed it was better to be honest with them in all ways. She has a connection with each of her girls that is open and true. They don't fail to tell her things about themselves that give her pause. Both Nina and Eve have become not just beautiful women, but beautiful human beings. By now they are individuated and well into their own lives as themselves.

I borrowed the picture of the 3 from Pat's facebook photo pages. I suspect Liza Schofield, who took the picture, is Pat's sister or sister-in-law.

1 comment:

  1. They all look like beautiful women (inside and out) and I'm sure Pat is please to have such a wonderful friend in you. Heard your radio show this past Saturday. Sorry you had such trouble with that one song you kept trying to share. We enjoyed the show very much. Since not being at the place for almost a month we had so much to do. Hope to catch up with you on our next trip up in a couple of weeks.

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