Karen and I went back to my hometown of Beacon, N.Y. for the wedding of Anna Ruhe-Shoen who is the daughter of old friends Chris and Janet. The whole family and their friends are singers, writers, musicians, poets and last but not least dancers. The bride is a passionate dancer and this is how she says what is in her heart. She entered like a whirling dervish and proceeded down the aisle to waiting assortment of African drummers and a tall elegant-I want to say white dashiki wearing groom but I'm not sure if a dashiki is still a dashiki if it is asked to entirely cover a 6'5" black groom. Maybe it was a mega dashiki-but that sounds like a bad Japanese horror movie. "Help! Mega Dashiki has consumed my family!"
The wedding took place in what was the town library when I was growing up. It was built through the generosity of General Howland and it is a grand ornate brick structure that has had a rebirth like the rest of the Beacon. As I entered the building I noticed the row of beautifully restored brick buildings across the street. Twenty years ago a tree had grown through the open roof of one of the buildings. Another building once housed a seedy bar that sold beer to minors for which I will always be grateful. It was easy to tell that they did because their sign said "We sell beer to minors". Another building stood right across the street from what was the police station and during the depression was the home of the legendary Toots Adams. One time Toots was standing on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the three story apartment house talking to a policeman. Here you need to know that this happened during the prohibition years when it was against the law to drink alcohol. Anyway, there was a large explosion on the third floor where Toots had his apartment and literally a river of beer cascaded three flights down the stairs to the sidewalk below. Toots and the angry policeman were ankle deep in foam and roly poly Toots seemed to be oblivious of the environment which was not that unusual. The furious officer said, "Toots! where did this beer come from?"
And Toots uttered the famous words that until this very day every school child in Beacon knows "What beer?"
Legend has it the officer could not stop laughing and simply walked away without arresting the immortal Toots.
This is the problem with going home-every square inch is the site of a memory. The wedding was even for a Baha'i wedding unique. Besides the dancing bride, there was poetry by the groom, piano playing and singing by the father of the bride, Persian prayers chanted, passages from Rumi (Rumi most be amazed at his popularity and is probably wandering the halls of heaven yelling "Where the xxx are my royalties" Finally, the bride and groom in front of two designated witnesses said the words that make a Baha'i wedding official "We all verily abide by the will of God" I smoozed with old friends , talked to Pete Seeger who sat next to me and ate finger food(Not food from Pete's fingers-just tiny meatballs). The sun was going down as we left the wedding and Karen and I completed our tour of Beacon. We drove by my old house and the house that my mother and brother lived in separated by a common driveway, but those memories I'll share in the future if you all promise to eat your vegetables.