Long Island, NY – “Days off with Mama” – Stephen Talk House – June 9, 1999

My two days off with my mom on Martha’s Vineyard were delicious. She fed me on memories of her childhood, tucking them around me like feathers in a nest. Like a thirsty plant, I drank her history in gulps letting her sensory-rich imagery add new coats in scene-by-scene detail. She painted a picture of herself as a young girl, growing up in an apartment building in Greenwich Village which her father bought to house his entire extended family. There were grandmothers living together on the 3rd floor and naughty uncles in the basement. There were crewel aunts with voodoo dolls, cousins who organized family choral groups, and doormen who shuttled them between each other’s lives. She was a free-range child in this colorful building of characters, visiting different familiar portals whenever she got tired of her current settings.

Lucy, Uncle Peter, Mama


She described how she used to steal jewelry from her mother, like Robin Hood, to give to her nanny Allie 2 floors down. It became a joke the grown-ups had as they watched Andrea Simon’s jewelry carted out in little Carly’s heavy pockets each morning to be returned by Allie before dinner as they all laughed behind their hands at young Carly’s early Socialist instincts. Mama described her sister Lucy’s love for bread inspiring her to hoard and, later for others, to discover molded glutenous stashes in the back of drawers and under beds. She gifted me visuals of her mother’s high pompadore hairstyle and shoulder pads which bolstered her 5’4” frame to what my mama considered Amazonian proportions. She described her mother’s wide toothy grin and charm bracelets that tinkled when she came to kiss her goodnight in mink stoles before the theater. She recognized her father’s charm, creativity, and depression. She remembered his last days huddled in a topcoat in an overheated room pulling down the shades on the windows and locking the doors as a means of shutting death out. We drank tea, our long legs tucked under us like deer hooves, laughing in bathrobes and leotards meant to inspire some form of fitness that never came to pass.

Despite the restful break at home, I found myself missing the road and my band even more. My pal Heidi, who’d already planned to attend our NYC show, offered me a ride and on a overcast morning, picked me up down my long, puckerbrush-lined, dirt driveway. In a reversal of roles, I kissed my mom fairwell and headed back on the road.

We were on track to meet the boys on Long Island well ahead of schedule, but just before exit 1 on I-495 N, Heidi’s check engine light illuminated. “Check Engine?” Heidi mused aloud before panic set in and smoke billowed from under her hood. Something metal inside the car screamed and green coolant splattered the windshield. This chaos was exacerbated by our convertible’s top being down. We pulled over, wet and coughing, and I called AAA.


Our rescuer, Dave, towed Heidi’s vintage Aston Martin and, charmed by Heidi’s beauty, repaired her car on the spot. We expressed our gratitude with a CD and a dime bag of weed and made it to the Long Island ferry just in time.


Stephen Talk House at first glance, looked like your run-o-the-mill Long Island bar, but inside, lining the walls, were photos of every famous musician you can think of. It was surreal to think I’d be playing on the same stage as legends such as – Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon, Taj Mahal, Ronny Wood, Keb’ Moe, Luther Allison, Koko Taylor, and Kris Kristofferson just to name a few. Unfortunately, we hadn’t publicized our gig very well and The venue was quiet, save for a few delightful fans and sports enthusiasts there for the NBA playoffs, their occasional cheers reminding me of past gigs played under the shadow of televised sports.
Despite the mixed audience, we had a memorable night, hoping for a return – ideally, after the Knicks win an Eastern Championship.

Reader interactions

4 Replies to “Long Island, NY – “Days off with Mama” – Stephen Talk House – June 9, 1999”

  1. Hi Sally,

    I love the little Carly and the jewelry story! How cute you and mom were so young and of course how beautiful now.

    Read both books and thoroughly rate moms as best memoir ever! You write just like her and I always enjoy another gig!!

    Patrice

    Reply

    1. Isn’t that the cutest image?!?!?!

      Reply

  2. You don’t miss a single soul in your path. It’s beautiful how you honour every person you meet as though you’re conscious of their significance…”our rescuer, Dave” 💕
    Speaks so loudly

    Reply

    1. Thank you Julia,
      I really do love people. Everyone is like a precious stone on the beach, worth turing over and looking at from multiple angles. I believe all people at their core are good and that love grows people into their best selves. If I can be part of that, I want to be.

      Reply

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