anitalorraine.com

Musician and Activist devoted to Justice, Creativity, and Courage

A Conversation with Joe

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Dear readers, whomever you may be,

I have had a sporadic correspondence from a chance meeting with a man named Joe in a breakfast joint in Asheville, near the Biltmore Estate.  I would like to share our letter/email writing with you and in honor of this man, I will keep his identity secret (the anonymous Joe).  I immediately fell in love with him and our breakfasts got cold while we sang to each other, recited poetry, discussed political goings on, story-telling, and so much more.  I was and am delighted to know this person and I think you’ll enjoy our correspondence just as much as me.

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Email:
Dear Old Soul (and all the rest is ever so young),
     Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe wrote in “The Web and the Rock,” (Asheville was his web and New York City was the Rock he aspired to go to).  As a boy, at the end of his magazine delivery route, he would go down to the train depot and watch passengers boarding the East-bound trains, imagining they were headed for New York City. As the train steamed out of the station and finally rounded a far bend in the tracks, “He stood there looking at the rails, shining with the music of space and flight, sweeping off into the distance…until lost from sight.”
    What “a joy on this earth,” you are, and how happy I am to have spent that magic time with you–your
 singing of your murder ballad is still running up and down my spine.  Barbry Allen in modern dress.
     There is a remarkable down home sophistication about you that is so charming  (and I WAS charmed).  And I am very truly yours,  J
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I wrote Joe a letter in the mail on a card from Montgomery, AL while recruiting for my organization.  The card was beautiful and had the design of up-close peacock feathers.  In my card I wrote how delighted I was to have met him and that I hoped to receive a letter back!
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Email:
Dear Joe, I hope that you have received my card in the mail!
Looking forward to hearing back from you 🙂
I hope you are well and enjoying your many breakfasts you may have talked through since last we saw one another.
Talk soon!
Anita​
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Email:
Anita, Please forgive my slow reply–your card was wonderful…my excuses are mundane, stopped up washer drain in basement, some stones prospecting, trying to write some book copy everyday (really had to do)  I’ll forge a proper reply to your card soon.
Your note about justice reminds me I had the great pleasure to have breakfast with Senator Sam Ervin one time–a happenstance–I asked him about his meeting with jurist Judge Learned Hand–“Yes,” Senator Ervin said, “I quote him often–speaking of the law, he said, ‘Upon this we have placed our all.’ “
We were well met, Anita, and I do expect ongoing correspondence,  Regards, J
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Upon not receiving a letter in the mail, I reached out this morning to see how Joe was getting along.  Seems that Joe’s not the only one who gets caught up in life and neglects to write back.  I know for that I have been guilty.
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Email:
Hi Joe, I hope you’re wonderful and enjoyed your Thanksgiving.  I hope your washer drain is fixed!!!
Sending love on to you, do take care.
Anita
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Email:
Well, Happy Surprise to me!  Yes, even though my 88th birthday was last week, I’m still housekeeping (knock on wood)  Took hand sledge to cinder block wall behind washer, exposing (1945) rigged up trap on washer drain, ran twisty cables, etc–draining fine.
Little name dropping, perhaps shared at our last meeting;  My late wife (1928-1984), Bettie, and I were only ones in breakfast bar at King Cotton Hotel, (Greensboro?) circa olden days, Senator Sam Ervin (later to chair Watergate Impeachment), came to breakfast bar and joined us at our table- He had been our post office convention speaker the night before–I asked him about his days at Harvard Law School and anecdotal meeting with Judge Learned Hand.  “Yes, it’s true,” the Senator replied, “And Judge Hand did say, speaking of the law, ‘Upon this, we have placed our all.’ ”  Thought you might enjoy that…
Ms Kinney, where are you? May we do CornerKitchen again?   J
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Email:
I am currently in Beech Mountain, soon to travel around the Southeast in several fell swoops.  Heading to Atlanta this Thursday via Charlotte to drop off a live Christmas tree to a friend.  In Atlanta I expect I will find my wild self in a workshop with one of my best friends and see some live hopping music to enliven my soul.  That following Monday, I will be driving to Birmingham, AL to visit my boyfriends family, then on to Thomasville, GA (very close in proximity to Tallahassee, FL) to live for about 2 weeks in an airstream selling Christmas trees and basking in the Southern GA sunshine, not too far from the railroad tracks where I can gleefully hear the train going by about 2-3 times a day.
After this rendezvous, Peter and I will be returning to central NC to my hometown of Burlington for Christmas.  We eat BBQ on Christmas Eve as a tradition and Peter is an excellent pig-cooker.  Soon after the big holiday, we will be going to Mexico with a class from Appalachian State University to both have a holiday and to practice my Spanish skills so that I might pass a language exam upon my return so I can finally get my Master’s degree completed from a school in Vermont called SIT where the Peace Corps started.
After January 15th, I would like to visit Asheville once again and meet up with you!  What a glorious meeting we had and will have again.
Happy 88th birthday, what did you do for your birthday?  I turn 33 in February on the 20th, 2016.
Your story about Sam Ervin is an interesting one.  Could it possibly be that this is the same Sam Ervin who ran for Supreme Court last year when unfortunately Mr. Thom Tillis bought the position of our state Senator?
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That is all up to this point but I am sure that we will continue writing.  He’s a story-teller from way back.  I became misty-eyed more than once while speaking to him that day while eating (or rather not eating) our breakfast.
The way it happened was this:
I walked into Corner Kitchen, a swanky little restaurant in Asheville, NC one Saturday morning after having a visit with my dearest of friends Phil and Becky to see a concert (Heartless Bastards) the night before.
Upon greeting everyone in that place who was working with a smile and a gesture of “good morning” I sat down at the bar, ordered shrimp and grits and a bloody mary, extra spicy, and did some casual people watching.  The sun was shining in the glass eating area behind me and the bartendress was a fabulous, no-nonsense type of “sweetheart once you get to know her, but she’ll probably kick your teeth in if you don’t watch it”.  You know the kind.  I love all of them.  I like to think of myself as one those people, if you don’t watch it.  (Though I’d never kick anyone’s teeth in, really.)  As soon as I received my vittles, an older gentlemen sauntered in, obviously saluting everyone who worked there as an old friend with a big grin and loud booming voice.  Wearing overalls and a smile, he sat down one seat over from me at the bar and began chatting up the lovely bartendress.  He and I looked at each other and I greeted him with a “good morning to you!”  At that, we were non-stop talking.  He had so many questions about me and I about him.  He learned that I was a singer/songwriter/activist/poet.  I learned that he was a story-teller, life-liver, and ex-postmaster and musician.  We gently bombarded one another with sharings of our pasts and questions of current pass-times and hobbies, works and interests.  It was as if I’d met someone whom I’d known for lifetimes, in an 87 year old man.  He didn’t remind me of my grandfather, he reminded me of ALL of my grandfathers, boyfriends, and those whom I’d like to meet and spend eternity with in all of my upcoming lifetimes.  I’ll never forget that day and the magic it brought me.  He sang a song for me that he’d written for one of his greatest loves.  He’d put it down on paper and memorized it for a date when they were courting.  I sang him a ballad I’d written about Ransom and his murderous, heartbreaking death.  I sang him also Utah Phillips’ song “I Think of You” because Joe’s mannerisms reminded me of Utah Phillips and the way he tells a story.
Stay tuned for more, I don’t know when it’ll come but I am sure there’ll be further illuminated exchanges between me and Joe and I’ll post them here.
Hula Girl day I met Joe

Hula girl on the road home from Asheville the day I met Joe

Author: slakfac

Woman, musician, grassroots organizer, Spanish learner, poet. I sing and work for the struggle for justice & I talk politics and religion at the dinner table.

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