An Interactive Memoir
Jerry Ross, the Painter

How I Met My Muse and Lover, Angela


Angela, my eternal love

Angela fortunately has helped me with many of the dates required for the following story.

We met May 7th of 1977 at the famous Ken Kesey sponsored “Hoo Haw” poetry reading at the University of Oregon. I had been living in Eugene on Villard Street.  Pamela had run off and was living with one of my T’ai Chi students (Dennis Mochary).  I had not yet found a roommate. My friend Ron Ford had been visiting me from Austin with his (to me) famous “freezer ++++”, a large sack of ++++++ that he wanted some help selling.  The day before I was to meet Angela I had visited the home of one of my  T’ai Chi students and, as I found out later, there was Angela standing behind a screen door, telling me that the student wasn’t home.  As it turned out, I wasn’t going to sell any pot that day. But apparently she could see me through the screening. 

It was too dark, looking in from the outside, for me to see her!  Anyway, I went home only to find Ron Ford had pulled up in front of my house and he asked me if I wanted to go along to hear poetry being read at the Hoo Haw that afternoon.  I said yes, not knowing at the time that I was going to meet that mysterious girl behind the screen (perhaps green as well?) door for a second time that day!  It would seem that destiny was taking a strong hand.

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Ron Ford                                                       Ron and I in the 'ol days

As it goes, Ron pulls up around noon and I had been waiting outside with a whiskey bottle in my hand. When the door to his van pulls open, there is Angela sitting there and she had recognized me from the day before.  I got in and off we went to the Poetic Hoo Haw.  The first had been in 1976 with readings by Ginsberg, Gary Schneider, and Ken Kesey among many.  The lineup of poets in ’77 was similar. Angela remembers Ginsberg reading and I remember Gary Schnider.

Somewhat of a poet myself, I had always admired both.  Afterwards, after dancing at the Hoo Haw for a while, we decided to go dancing at downtown location, a large dance hall located near 5th Street and the railroad tracks.  We had picked up Diane Castle, one of my T’ai Chi students. We ate, drank, and danced.  Afterwards I went to Diane’s house and Ron and Angela went to my place on Villard.  We had agreed to all meet up again the next evening for more dancing.  At this time in Eugene I was calling myself "Jeremy" instead of Jerry.

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"Jeremy" doing T'ai Chi

The following evening we are all sitting in a booth and I begin to realize that I am very attracted to Angela.  In those days she had the beautiful long hair that draped over her shoulders. She wore embroidered vests that she created on her sewing machine.  I was about as hippy looking as one can get with long hair and wearing an embroidered Guatemalan shirt.

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 We started looking into each other’s eyes and playing footsy under the table. I asked her to dance again and again. At one point, when the others were distracted, we scampered out together.  At that time Angela was living in a small apartment in Cheryl Davis’ house in Springfield. We headed there and ended up making wonderful love together. In the following days we had a real date together going out to dinner at Joe Federico’s, a popular restaurant/club in Eugene.

Somehow, maybe because I was drinking a lot in those days and perhaps because I was put off a bit after finding out Angela had recently divorced and had a young child, Genessa, around the age of four.  I was still teaching T’ai Chi and hanging out with Diane Castle now and then.  Ron Ford was of great assistance keeping me in a wonderful fog.  I was still missing Pamela even though being somewhat relieved she had run off. My feelings were conflicted. I had sunk somewhat into a deep depression and state of “ferblungency”, quite rudderless.  But then, all of a sudden, it was time for the Oregon Country Fair, the biggest hippy event of the year! As would have it, this turned out to be my “turning point”, the day that changed my life forever.

The Oregon Country Fair in those days was like no other event. This was before it went totally commercial and became a big middle class and “family” event.  In the summer of 1977 it was still a very spiritual and drug-infested event (in a good way).  I arrived at the Fair and immediately ran into one of my acquaintances who turned me on to a handful of “Brazilian mushrooms.”  

He said they would take an hour or so to take effect, something akin to psilocybin mushrooms, only better.  I was familiar with the latter from the days when I lived on 14th Ave near campus and the good folks at Momma’s Truck Stop, where I stayed in a basement apartment, had some gathered from the fields of cow poop on the way to the Oregon coast, just out of town.

But I remember that at the Fair I wanted to try the Navaho “sun dance” in my own way.  The Indians would dance for days staring directly into the sun asking the Great Spirit to provide them with their wife.  My strategy was to glance at the sun briefly now and then while dancing, high on mushrooms, and to cut directly through all the bullshit in my love life, I wanted to find a lover and perhaps start a family.  I was done with leading a singular hippy life. I was down and depressed. The feelings of being ferblungit and alone were getting to me.

So I danced and danced.  Looking around me I saw some people had gone naked.  I had my shirt off but didn’t entirely disrobe being somewhat put off by the movie cameras rolling in the background.  Somewhere there is a film of this.  In those days all sorts of people were making documentary films of the Fair. Hours went by and I remember praying in my own Navaho like way, asking the universe to lead me to my true love.  I would take breaks now and then and hang out at the “Loving Oven” booth. 

Towards the evening people started drifting towards home and I followed somewhat into the parking lot area.  At this point I made a terrible mistake that turned out to be ok because at this point the Great Spirit was guiding me somewhere.  I drank a bottle of beer and then smoked a joint of marijuana.  I didn’t know that you are NEVER to mix the marijuana spirit with the Brazilian mushroom spirit!  Somehow the two do not get along.

The immediate result which came on like a switch had been thrown, was severe paranoia and panic.  I was in the throes of a bad trip.  I remember thinking my wrist watch was a ball and chain on my freedom and took it off and threw it somewhere.  I was “Jeremy” in those days, a more proper hippy name, not “Jerry.”  My friends at the booth where I hung out that day noticed that I was acting strangely and somehow got me somewhat corralled and then into their car.  We started to drive out of the Fair.  The paranoia became more extreme.  Somehow I thought CIA agents (remember those guys with the cameras?) were following our car and that my friends were taking me to the Eugene airport so I could escape to Cuba. They saw I was getting worse so they stopped at their house in Eugene and asked me if there was anyone who could come and get me.  I wracked my brains but the only name that popped into my brain was Angela.  Somehow I had written down her phone number and still had it in my wallet.  They called. The rest is history (or herstory?).

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