Mudcat Café message #372002 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #29288   Message #372002
Posted By: StillyRiverSage (inactive)
10-Jan-01 - 12:18 AM
Thread Name: John Dwyer - Songs & Stories -Guitar List photos
Subject: RE: John Dwyer - Songs&Stories

The wake/hoot/potluck dinner we did for Dad in January of 1998 (set up by Jean Smith--thanks again, Jean!) saw a packed room at Camp Long in West Seattle. And as the Song Circle singing started, it was clear that this group knew him well. There were some beautiful ballads sung, and through the evening there were some sincerely sweet and sad songs sung in his honor. Invariably after a sweet song, the next guitar would pluck out a few tones of the next song, and an audible groan and laugh would rise from the group as a bawdy or particularly punny song would rock the gathering. Though I don't remember what it was now, Stan James sang the most agonizingly, ironically, grim song I've ever heard in my life. I remember at my turn asking for the group to sing "The Golden Vanity," figuring everyone would know it.

That evening so impressed me of the importance of his work in gathering songs and music that I went out to the house that night afterward and packed up the remaining albums and books so they wouldn't become lost in the process of settling the estate. I then flew off to Texas to get on with life for a while. When I returned in February to clean the house to put it on the market, I knew full well that the shelves (over by the door out to the deck) were empty. The entire house was completely empty. I stood in the sunset-lit room one evening, so sad, wishing there was some sign from him that there was something remaining of him there. My attention was caught by something protruding slightly from the top of those book shelves. I stretched up to find a slim volume, I have it here--The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs--from the high school library where he was librarian before moving to Everett Community College. Probably the first book he ever checked out (and never returned!) to start learning songs. I examined it, and it dropped open to "The Golden Vanity." I haven't been able to get that same result with that book since then.

If that isn't enough, on another day, I whimsically thought to myself "I wonder what else he can produce in these book shelves" and I found, to my surprise, another book, this time The Sex Lives of Slugs. I knew it was Dad maniputlating the shelves! I think, just on the off chance that there's something magical about those shelves, I packed the boards up with the stuff I put in storage.

If this doesn't seem too maudlin, I still have Dad's ashes. I've been intending to scatter them into Puget Sound off of the back of a ferry. I don't think the family is ever going to get together at one time to do it, so next time I'm in the Northwest, maybe I can find a fine day and anyone who is interested can go along on one of the ferries. I'll ask the captain to let me scatter his ashes--I hear this is pretty standard on the Sound. I wonder how the accoustics are in Washington State Ferries for folk singing?

My parents were divorced back in the late 1960's, and my mother, Carol Husby, died six months after Dad. Her death was not so sudden, and there was time to reflect on the process. I sat in the hospital room with Mom and my sister one day in May, 1998, when they discussed Mom's funeral plans. And that Mom wanted to have her ashes also scattered from the deck of a ferry. It was so sad, and yet so funny, to have my mother say "I will be scattered off of the Kingston run, so you'll have to scatter your father off of the Mukilteo ferry."

I don't feel bound by this plan, however; if anyone has suggestions of a particularly good run let me know. Which run would be the one with the admonishment "don't navigate by cow" from his "Notice to Mariners"?