San Francisco

 

Susie and I had driven to California with our son PJ and our cat Pumpkin Puss from Florida in 1970, spending a couple of weeks

at my mom's house in Eagle Rock and then driving up to San Francisco in our '63 Ford Galaxy, pulling a U-Haul trailer. We had been offered a place to stay with Susie's friend Warren for "three months". We had come into town with about $50. After a few days of living with our 8 month old baby, Warren and wife reneged on their

offer and told us we had to go.

      With no money, we went to The Haight Ashbury Switchboard, a

community bulletin board and resource service. There, we found a share rental with self-described "Communists" in a work-for-rent situation in a cold building under construction on Fulton Street just off of Divisidero. During our time there, Susie was hospitalized for an allergic response to a medication she had been prescribed for the flu.

At the hospital, we started talking with her roommate and her husband, Linda and Charlie Wolf. They told us that Linda's nephew Bruce had a rock band in San Jose that was looking for a lead guitar player. Linda's sister and her husband would be gone for the summer, and we were invited to live there rent-free and see what happened with the band. We parted ways with the communists and moved to San Jose.

      San Jose was a great small town at the time, and we had a cool

place to live for the summer. The band was named Abraxis, with Linda's nephew Bruce on bass, a sax player, and a drummer. We practiced a mix of their songs and my songs. I used to have a recording of a rehearsal where we did my songs "Revolution" and "Technicolor Shades", but somehow have lost it over time. The drummer's sister was dating someone from Santana's band. Santana released their album "Abraxis" near the end of that summer, which

killed our band as we couldn't perform under that name as people would think we were now copying the name, or playing Santana covers.

       Susie, PJ, Pumpkin Puss, our turtles Talbot and Tallulah and I moved into a flat on Frederick Street in the Haight Ashbury with Charlie and Linda Wolf.

       We collected AFDC (aid to families with dependent children), a basic welfare program, and we got Food Stamps. The cash part covered twice what we paid in rent, totaling $175 month, and we got over $100 worth of Food Stamps. We also availed ourselves of a Federal food program where we would get white bags, boxes and cans with the simple black text saying what was inside "Sugar", "Flour", "Ground Meat", "Eggs" (powdered), etc. This enabled us time

to get ourselves together. Susie volunteered for the San Francisco Music Switchboard and was soon running the office at Project One, one of the city's two communes at the time, on 10th and Howard. The switchboards were the predecessors of the CraigsLists and Facebooks of today, and were all volunteer-run, providing valuable services. The Music Switchboard was an office with staff and a number of notebooks. There was a notebook for each instrument or group of instruments. In the front of the book, a musician would put their name, description of style and experience, and contact number. In the back of each book, bands would list what they were looking for along with their contact information. These listing were constantly updated by musicians coming in or calling in. Susie started inviting

musicians over to our place to jam. There would be weird and haphazard combinations of instruments in those jams, from classical violin/ blues harp/ electric guitar & flute to 6 guitars; whoever showed up. Through Susie and the Music Switchboard, we met many of the musicians that I would end up playing with and playing shows with.

Charlie Wolf would become sound man for Sparky, and put together XOX, and Linda Wolf would become the band's videographer.

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©2019 by Jimmy Foot