I began this memoir before I even knew it. On the first day I worked in the basement food pantry, I sat with Mary, a member of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church and the head of the alter society. We greeted a couple dozen hungry people. Mostly single homeless men, there were a few of Woodstock’s famous colorful characters included in the mix that day.
Throughout my career in the pantry, the most colorful of the colorful was Grandpa Woodstock who liked to bring his bride, Lady Estar into the pantry to shop. The two of them went around the room choosing from peanut butter, cereal, tuna fish, and soup. While this happened, he entertained us gushing enthusiastically.
“My, how beautiful you look today!” I fell for his spiel every pantry day. Those words melted my heart. The most professional of the street actors, he knew how to make us each feel special when he flashed his peace sign and posed for photographs. Grandpa knew how to flash that peace sign, whip out his postcards to sell, and sound off his horn “toot toot”. I sometimes thought he spent a few afternoons posing in front of a mirror to figure out how to get the best response from tourists.
Grandpa Woodstock and Lady Estar were most photogenic with their long, flowing silver hair. Their lovely matching beards only emphasized floral print silk skirts and kimonos. Their toenails were painted matching colors and their Teva sandals matched.
None of Woodstock’s rich and famous got so many requests for autographs and photographs. They simply couldn’t compete with his show off tricks.
After all, Grandpa entertained us all with street theater at its finest. So what if he didn’t mean a word of it? We all enjoyed being sucked into the show!
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