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Camp Meeker Beat - March 2015


Camp Meeker Beat - March 2015

by Tom Austin

The plum tree outside my back window had blossoms on it this morning.   This has happened for several years in a row now.     It is spectacular, of course, but I get kind of a bittersweet feeling when spring shows up in February.    I like warm weather and budding plants as much as the next guy, but I’d be perfectly happy to bide my time through a few more weeks of cold, rainy winter.    It’s how things are supposed to be, groundhog or no groundhog.    Mention of that particular varmint always brings to my mind the greatest Buddhist movie of all time, “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray.     And you thought it was just a silly comedy.

Speaking of karmic loops, Camp Meeker seems ever caught in one, doesn’t it?   We’re a bit out of phase with the outside world, undeniably.   A decade or so behind the technological times, for good and ill.   Was it always thus?    According to some long-time Camp Meeker residents, the answer is “…and how”. 

I had the pleasure of speaking to one such resident recently, songwriter Peter Krug, who lived at 101 Market Street from 1970 to 1978.     It was while Peter was living here that he penned the immortal folk ditty “Looking for a Woman with a Chainsaw”.     It seems Peter was the lucky recipient of part of a cord of firewood, unceremoniously dumped in his driveway one wintry day, and in order to get on with the rest of his business he needed to get that wood cut up.    Peter, being a single guy at the time, passed the time during this menial labor by daydreaming about the woman of his dreams – his dreams at the moment being someone conversant in power tools who could help him with this current sweat-stained task.    Lo and behold, a song was born!  And, well, things started to happen.   As you kids today might say, the song went viral.    Might have taken a bit longer to do so in those days of no YouTube (heck, this was before the entire dang INTERNET!  Before CD players, fer gosh sakes!), but it happened all the same.   Doubt me?  Just google “looking for a woman with a chainsaw” and you will there a see that the song has entered the folk canon.       They’re playing it all the way up in the Yukon!  There are royalties!  It’s been translated into French!   Yes, it’s safe to say that Mr. Krug (who now lives in Guerneville) is…”Big in Canada”.       Apparently the farther north you go, the more that song speaks to a man.

Peter’s other big hit (at least locally) was a lighthearted number entitled “I’m Proud to be a Streaker from Camp Meeker.”   Now here I will have to digress and explain what a streaker is to anyone born after, say, 1975.   We were a bunch of wild and crazy kids back then, y’see,  and it was a thing for a while to doff one’s duds before running very very quickly (or  “streak”)  through some public place.    It was all the rage, I’m telling you!  A guy streaked the Academy Awards!   That “Convoy” dude wrote a novelty song about it!    And so did Peter, although he borrowed the melody from Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee”.     Boy howdy, try that streaking stuff today and you might get hauled off by Homeland Security and end up on the Sex Offender web pages.   Don’t try this at home, kids!  Professional driver on a closed course!

Yes, things were different in Camp Meeker?   You talk about your cell phones – they didn’t even have bus service back then!    No cable TV!    If you climb to the right vantage point up high, you can look across and still see some TV aerials stuck way high in a tree.    You see, kids, that’s how we used to watch TV.   We got three channels at best!   And we liked it!

Okay, I know I’ve gone around the bend into old dufferhood.  You will too, one day, so let me enjoy myself.    And keep your calendar open on Mother’s Day.    You just might have a chance to mix with some cool old duffers and dufferettes – and you might just get a live rendition of “Streaker from Camp Meeker” from the artist himself!  Now don’t say I didn’t warn ya!