Quote Originally Posted by OldFatGuy View Post
When I was in my early teens, I'd hang at my aunt's apartment in Greenwich Village. Dave and Eric Von Schmidt were almost always there for the free meals, and the conversations. It was a hangout for many of the village poets and folk musicians of the day. My aunt had this old battered Martin New Yorker. I picked it up one afternoon and Dave started showing me fingerings for chords, and over some time, how to Travis Pick. He was my first guitar teacher. He spent more time teaching a very young Bob Dylan, who first showed up using his real name Bobby Zimmerman and Richard Farina gifted him a battered volume of Dylan Thomas' poems and short stories. Dave later introduced Bob to Joan Baez over dinner at my aunt's one night. He and Eric were a never-ending show of music, stories and downright silliness, staging quick sketches caricaturing everyone at the dinner table, to their embarrassment and joy. Alan Ginsburg called Dave, "an old man before his time." No one disagreed. He was everyone's favorite old man.

It was a strange mix. My aunt, a student at Hunter College when it was still all women, and a hunting ground for men from Columbia University looking for wives, was dating a then young mathematician who she would later marry. Super serious grad students from Columbia, and super serious beatnik musicians and poets were a rare match, yet some life long friendships developed between the two at that apartment. I was surprised by how many of those grad students, studying mathematic and physics played instruments, and very well, from folk music to jazz, the latter which inspired many of the beat poets in attendance. The old standup grand piano my aunt's uncle left her with the apartment got nightly workouts from jazz musicians who would also drop by, those free meals with all welcome.

Phil was another regular, and he played piano better than he played guitar. Another poet posing as a folk musician. One night he was playing piano with a young black guy I'd never seen or heard before, playing horn. How little I knew. The following week I learned that guy had been Myles Davis. Throughout the evening I had been my usual (at the time) quiet shy teenager, not saying much of anything to anyone. Myles had kept telling me to "Shut up kid, you're making too much noise," with a huge smile on his face. My grandmother would show up to cook, and Myles kept coming back hoping she was feeding the crew that night. Very strange, Myles chatting with my grandmother who barely spoke English about eastern European food, how to make this and that. She always made a strudel for him to take home. He was partial to the cherry strudel. The man liked her casseroles and stews, especially her chicken stews with a biscuit in the middle of the bowl. Myles also was a terrific piano player.

My uncle Bob, who married my aunt Elli, is now 96, still guest lecturing for math and physics grads at American University, and still playing that very old battered Martin New Yorker, remembering his wife and their life of music, poetry shared with musicians and poets. He owns better guitars, but that old Martin is dear to him.



I had a terrible teenage crush on Mimi:

Sounds like you've led quite the life...fascinating! And a good memory, to boot...wish I could remember half the stuff I did...