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Thursday, July 20

Roll Away The DooB! Congratulations and Happy Birthday Heather

Happy Birthday Heather. She wrote a little more than 200 words but I loved her story and I feel like I know her. Welcome to the Team. Here is her winning entry. 
      Roll Away The DooB

I collect bumper stickers. I love them. I have them on my cooler, my dartboard, my mirrors and my walls…(oddly, I do not have any where they belong: my actual BUMPER, but the way profiling is these days I wouldn’t dare). Every festival and show I go to, I bring home stickers. Freebies don’t bother me….I can find somewhere for the Technaflora sticker, and the ENO one…you want to give me a sticker? I’ll take it! I am always on the quest for a new one, or a creative spin on a classic, or a replacement for one that had one too many beers spilled on it, or had one too many kids picking at it. However, there is one sticker that I will never be able to own. One I covet more than any other sticker, probably primarily because I can never, in good faith, own it…..That’s right. The one that says “I Saw Jerry”. You see, I didn’t. I never got to see Jerry Garcia play live. I grew up with a Deadhead aunt. She would go on tour, and bring me back a couple of cool lot shirts (I had ALL the cool Calvin and Hobbes), or some sweet jewelry she scored on Lot. I would sneak in and raid her bootlegs and hole up in my room, listening to them all night and memorizing lyrics. I would hit pause and play as many times as I needed until I thought I had all the words written down in my notebook correctly. Granted, there were some particularly horrific misunderstandings, most memorably was me thinking the words in Franklin’s Tower were not “Roll away the dew”,but “Roll away that doob”. Apparently, an adolescent subconscious brain hears what it wants to hear. I spent my evenings listening to shows and reading old Relix magazines. Back then, (and I am talking circa 1991-1995) there was no internet available to me, and the information I was reading was often months, even years old. Still, I absorbed it like a sponge. At school, I was just any other kid (my small town didn’t take kindly to “hippies” so at the time it was almost like my alter ego) and when I came home I snuck carefully back into my aunt’s room, and snagged a new tape to listen to. 
The year Jerry died was to be my year. The Grateful Dead always played Buckeye Lake Music Center (AKA Legend Valley) in Thornville, Ohio, which was really close to us. My aunt had promised that summer or fall when they came to town, she would take me. I had it all planned. I knew what shirt I was going to wear, what cute little skirt was going with. I even had my envelope decorated for my mail order tickets, after many different designs and re-dos. All I had to do was wait….and I was not doing that very patiently. The beginning of August 1995 I went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with a friend and her family. One morning, we were watching MTV (when it was still about music) and the vee-jay shattered my whole world…Jerry Garcia had died. I stared at the TV in disbelief for a few minutes. Then I called home and asked to speak to my aunt. She wasn’t there,but I was crying and asked if she knew Jerry was gone. I was told yes, so I just hung up the phone. The family I had travelled with were a pretty straight laced family. I had gone to Catholic school with the daughter for years. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they would not be sympathetic to my misery. So, good little girl that I was, I just continued to get ready for lunch at the Hard Rock CafĂ©.As we walked into the Hard Rock, I was surprised to see groups of people dressed in tie dyes standing around one of the memorabilia displays. They were hugging and comforting one another. I wanted to walk up to them, and share my pain and let them share theirs, but my friend’s mom was pushing us along, and as we walked past the group, she sniffed a little and muttered under her breath. I looked sadly at the group, and moved on. Their pain and confusion was palpable. Later on that night, we went for a walk on the beach. I was wearing a little flower circlet in my hair from some little beachside stand. As my friend and I walked along, we came across a group gathered in the sand. There was a guy my Dad’s age playing the guitar, but I recognized “Stella Blue” immediately. They had a magazine cover of Jerry in a frame, and some candles lit. As we walked by, I dropped my flowers from my hair next to the impromptu shrine, did a little curtsy, and carried on down the beach with tears pouring down my face. To this day, I do not think my friend ever understood what was going on. I was just very glad we were going home the next day. I needed to mourn in private.I knew, that day, that I had missed something Earth shaking. Something that I would never in a million years be able to recreate. I never got to hear the man sing live, or hear the golden notes drop out of his guitar like teardrops. I was not one Jerry’s Kids. And I never would be.That didn’t stop me, though. I became voracious about reading anything I could find about the band, the culture at the time: first hand accounts, fiction, articles, you name it, I tried to hunt it down. I became obsessed with Ken Kesey and the Pranksters. I read 
the Beat Poets. And I found others like me…too young to see Jerry, but old enough to have gotten on the bus, I embraced my role as a Deadhead. I would argue vociferously with anyone that tried to say I wasn’t one…seeing Jerry Garcia play is not a requisite. The only requirement for being a Deadhead in my book was love of the band, and love of the life. It was the way you lived, not how much you had done. To be honest, I think that those of us not blessed to see Jerry in this life have to be that much more proactive in their endeavors to be a Deadhead. There’s a lot more research, a lot more to learn. I can’t just say “Oh, I know this show from 1985 is good because I was there.” I have to search, and explore. I have to find my own way. And honestly, I like it that way, I might not have earned my touring stripes, but I certainly have had a long, strange trip. And believe me, I’m still trucking. But…I will never get to own that sticker. hmott 2014