The following evening Maria came over to my apartment around 7:00 carrying a bottle of red wine. I was just beginning to slice up the vegetables for the sauté dish we would have for dinner. At that point in my life the dinner meals and dishes I knew how to cook were very limited in number. There was a lamb stew recipe from my grandfather, a tasty whole wheat and molasses bread that I had successfully baked following a recipe in Diet For A Small Planet, spaghetti, whole wheat pancakes and waffles, grilled cheese sandwiches, and few other dishes that were a far cry from the world of haute cuisine.
Part of the conversation as the food preparation is underway in the kitchen:
"I still haven't heard from Ned. It's strange that he hasn't arrived yet with just a few days left before school starts."
"Susan arrived a week before I did and actually made me feel guilty because of a lot of painting she did in the apartment. I would have pitched in had I been here earlier."
"Last year at this time when we moved in we painted the entire apartment in about three days. My bedroom had been painted deep purple and required two coats of paint to cover it. The former renters were both apparel design students. They had a robbery here with all of their camera equipment stolen. I didn't hear how the robbers gained access to the apartment."
"Maybe they jimmied the lock somehow as you are on the third floor and this place looks very secure otherwise."
"If someone could gain access to the roof above the second floor there might be a way for them to get into the bedroom window but it would require acrobatics and no fear of heights."
A little later on...
"The last time I made this dish I added some soy sauce for more flavor. It was around November of last year that I made the switch to more vegetarian dishes. It was all due to a course I took first semester on alternative futures. I had no idea a liberal arts course would change my diet. I did an independent study course with the same teacher second semester."
"I have no idea yet what the offerings will be for classes this fall. I would love to take a glass program, but all of the previous years anything like that was booked right away with no chance for me to get in."
"You already have your degree project underway, but I have no idea what I will do. Last year I was co-editor of the yearbook and my classmate who was really the main editor used that as her degree project. It was a mountain of work on top of class assignments and although I am in line to be the editor this year I have no desire to do it again. There were a lot of funny stories connected with working on it that I will have to tell you. It also made me think about photographing more of the school while I am here because once I graduate I won't be coming back very often."
"Providence is a long distance from my home as you know, too, and I probably won't be back here much at all, either. If you have a copy of the yearbook here I'd love to see it."
"I have about ten copies and I can give you one to keep. Regarding your degree project we should think about taking a drive before school starts to see if we can find any run over critters. In my town in New York they seem to be on the ball about picking up the dead animals promptly. I am guessing there are a few more animals on the move at night right now than there will be in a month's time."
Ned showed up two days after my dinner with Maria. I was totally unprepared for what he had to say. He was not returning to RISD after all. He was applying to grad school for music at Yale and hoped to be accepted in a year's time. He said he'd pay for another month or two of rent while I put up notices for a new roommate. Ned was leaving his furniture just a while longer and then he'd be back to pick everything up. He left after an hour with a few small possessions that had been left in the apartment over the summer.
Another friend who was around happened to be Paul who lived on Angell Street right across from the freshman dorms. He had spent the summer living in his apartment rather than go home to Barrington, RI. I hadn't seen him yet and gave him a call. He was in and I walked over to his place to see him and also to tell him about my dilemma with the apartment.
Later in the afternoon I called Maria but no one answered. I finally reached her around 7:00 and told her the news. She wondered if he wasn't liable for the length of the lease and I said he might be but I should be able to find a new roommate in a month's time.
Although I put notices around campus for the apartment being available for one roommate the two responses were not what I was looking for. One was a student I knew well, so well that my instinct told me to NOT have him as a roommate and the other was a female painting major who worked in oils and would use her room as a studio and bedroom. Just talking on the phone for a few minutes she could tell I wasn't thrilled and that was the end of it. Ned ended up paying for his share through the end of the December and my father said he'd pick up the tab for the full rent which was $144 a month.
What had looked like a disaster in the beginning turned into a great situation. I had my own place, could have friends come and go without disturbing a roommate and most of all I had total privacy which had eluded me for the previous three years. What a great turn of events for someone in a relationship that was moving to a new level of intimacy.
The next day would be Friday and I told Maria I was available to drive with her out to one of the towns to look for roadkill. The weather prediction was for a mostly blue sky and warm temperatures. I said Foster, Rhode Island and Rehoboth, Massachusetts were two towns that kept popping into my mind as potential sites for finding roadkill. She said she could drive out tomorrow, as well. She said Foster sounded like the place to start.
The town of Foster and the ride out and back yielded nothing in the way of animal carcasses, but it was a beautiful trip for two hours nevertheless. I said Rehoboth was worth a shot next if nothing else than to see a different part of the area in the country. I suggested perhaps the following Saturday if the weather was clear and she agreed. As we approached Providence the clouds had moved in giving the city a look that made the few tall buildings downtown stand out in silhouette fashion. Once on Benefit Street Maria left me off at my place and headed up the street to hers.
Views of Providence coming back from our trip to Foster, RI:
The next Saturday driving around Rehoboth yielded one raccoon that appeared to have been dead for two weeks and apparently missed by the public works crews. Maria was making sepia prints of everything she had photographed to date and the raccoon was printed in the darkroom the same way.
Below is the 'Rehoboth raccoon' printed with deep sepia tones:
Detail of the raccoon jaw:
There was little joy in looking for dead animals and I was conflicted about this. While I liked her company and wanted her to have success in her degree project I had some hope there had been few animals in the region that died because of a car or truck running them over.
The tools of the photographic trade in those days were stainless steel developing tanks, enlargers, chemicals, and plastic darkroom trays. The two photos taken below last year in my present day darkroom show the same type of equipment we were using in the '70s.
An Omega B-22 enlarger, the standard equipment in all of the darkrooms at school during the '70s:
The red square in the photo above shows the location of the RISD Camera Club. I was a member as a freshman and sophomore and later was able to use the design department darkroom for free, but there was a special quality to the two darkrooms at the Camera Club. Normally just one or two students were in there at any time making it a quiet place to work. One of the members was always in charge of ensuring that the chemicals in the trays were fresh and the enlargers were in better shape than in photo department's darkrooms due to less wear and tear. Maria was a member for the full three years after she switched from Brown.
For one of my design classes in the first week of school we were given a totally open ended assignment called "Gotta match?" We could do anything with this assignment so my first thought was to go downtown with some cigarettes and ask strangers "Gotta match?"
I had Maria stationed across the street and with a 200mm telephoto lens on her Nikon she was able to get some humorous shots of me:
Besides the regular cigarettes I made a realistic looking giant cigarette and asked strangers "Gotta match?" I had a riot asking people for a match.
This particular man made me think of reactions I had seen on Candid Camera:
(There would be more photographs to be taken in a few weeks for this assignment, but they would be set up differently.)
A few of my classmates called me J.B. and "M" was the nickname I gave to Maria. That was a nice tie in to the 007 films and made for some occasional quips for us such as "Would you like you wine shaken, not stirred?"
When it came to entertainment I had something come along in late September that was rather special.
My brother had mentioned on the phone that his band was playing at a club in New Haven and if I was interested in taking the train down to see them play that would be very cool. I talked about the idea of going there to Maria and she said right away she'd come along.
There were enough trains in the weekend schedule along the Northeast Corridor between New Haven and Providence to make this trip feasible.
I brought my Minolta SLR along to take some photos of the band that night. During the soundcheck I took a few shots of the group and then came to the end of the film roll--I had forgotten to put in a new 36 exposure roll and that was it for the photographs. Considering how close we were to the Yale campus I assumed a lot of the rock 'n rollers present that night were Yalies.
My brother is to the right on the keyboards...
The name of the band was the Pecksville Flyers and I mentioned to Maria that one time a girl said to one of the band members "Are you the Flysville Peckers?" In response that drew a big laugh from her!
Actual studio recordings made by the band from 1976-'77 are on one of many tapes I have from that period of time. I transferred the songs from the Sony reel to reel above to digital. Below are three songs, two on the Cripple Creek YouTube recording and only All Along The Watchtower on the other:
It was a great show and the place was filled. My brother and the others got to meet Maria and she took a huge liking to my brother, who resembled Duane Allman so much that on more than one occcasion in the past he had been asked if he was Duane as he walked along city streets.
It was around 1 AM when we arrived back at Providence. We both lived within easy walking distance of the train station and we swung by her place first and then I headed back to my apartment, but not before I was party to the best hug and kiss of the new school year!
I hadn't been back at my apartment for more than thirty minutes when the phone rang.
"Hey, I'm kind of wired and can't sleep. How about you?"
"I feel the same way. Care to come down?"
"Sure, I'll head out in five minutes"
"I'll meet you half way or even closer to your place."
Roadkill with a dose of rock 'n roll had cleared the way for a deeper relationship just the way I had hoped for.
Note: there's more to the story here and part four will be coming along very soon.....
On a side note here, one of the memorable songs from 1976 for me was Peter Frampton's hit Do You Feel Like We Do. I can't remember all of the times I was working on my design projects with the FM radio on and this song was played. Flash forward to the '80s and one of Peter's staffers was a friend of my brother which resulted in our storing some extra equipment of Peter Frampton's band in our large barn in New York state.
Jump ahead to July, 2011 and I was fortunate to see the band on their 35th Anniversary Frampton Comes Alive tour when they played in Danbury, CT. Here is the second half of Do You Feel Like We Do I recorded that night in HD.
Do You Feel Like We Do | Peter Frampton's 35th Anniversary FCA tour, July, 2011
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