Yosemite Story ~ Part III
American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to find in the butlers.
W. Somerset Maugham ~ The Razor’s Edge
Freedom! As a married woman, I was no longer under the dictates of anyone but my husband. Face was the only one who could tell me what to do, and the only order he gave me was to “go…and sin no more.” It was his first of many jokes to me.
After our wedding, Face and I were ordered back to Yosemite. We got a ride to the north end of Blackstone Avenue where we were expected to hitchhike the rest of the way. Face had done this before…
Face’s Hitchhiking Adventure
When Face was in junior high, he and a friend decided to check out Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. They made their way to the north end of Blackstone and stuck out their thumbs for a ride. A police car drove by, noticed the boys, and pulled over. Face told his friend to shut up and let him do the talking. He ran over to the police car as the officer was getting out.
“I’m so glad to see you,” he said. “Me and my friend live in San Francisco. A week ago we ran away to L. A. We are real sorry we left and want to go home. Can you help us?”
The officer was a kindly soul who believed Face’s story. He drove the boys to the bus depot and helped them purchase a ticket to San Francisco. The transaction took most of their money, but they didn’t care. They were on their way to the City.
San Francisco in 1967 was a tripped out place. The streets downtown were crowded with people, mostly hippies. As Face and his friend pushed their way through the crowds, they could hear people calling out their wares: “Acid.” “Weed.” “Shrooms.” They bebopped around for a while, looking for a place to stay the night. Eventually they met a guy who knew a guy who might put them up. Face was young, blond, blue-eyed, and good-looking – just the sort of ripe tomato ready to be plucked.
The guy with the room turned out to be an older hippie in his thirties. He offered the boys a place on the floor of his one-room apartment. They agreed, and Face and his friend rolled up in some grungy blankets the guy had. Sometime during the night Face woke to find the guy next to him with his hands on his crotch. Face was scared, but he kept his cool.
“Uh…do you this very often?” he asked.
“Sometimes,” said Old Hippie. “It’s cool.”
“Uh…what kind of reaction do you get?”
“A few like it; some don’t. Some tell me to fuck off. It’s cool.”
“Well,” said Face. “I’m not really into it, if you know what I mean. “
“Okay, man. It’s cool.”
He left Face alone for the rest of the night. The next morning, Face and his buddy got the hell out of there. They opted to sleep in a doorway or in the park while they were there.
In the meantime, Face’s mom had driven to San Francisco to find Face. She spent two days on the streets of San Francisco in the Haight-Ashbury district, showing his photo to people on the street and shop owners. On the third day, she spotted Face walking by the window of the restaurant in which she was sitting. She ran out and grabbed him and summarily hauled him back to Fresno, thus ending his San Francisco adventure.
Back to Yosemite
Face and I got a ride from a park ranger who took us all the way to Yosemite Valley – talk about convenient. We walked to the commune campsite and set up a room in an old bus. Just think! We were young and newly married in Yosemite in the summer; it was one of the best times ever! The only problem was that we rarely had enough to eat. I used to look with longing at all the food that people consumed, all the food courts and restaurants, and all the food at the grocery store and at other people’s campsites. I fantasized what it would be like to walk into Yosemite Village and order whatever I wanted to eat.
Apollo and Lillian were one of the married couples in our group, and Lillian was pregnant. One day Apollo went to the kitchen of the Ahwahnee Hotel and explained our food situation to the head chef; he particularly dwelled on his wife’s pregnancy and asked if he could have any scraps or leftovers they were going to throw away. The chef said to wait a few minutes and he would see what he could do. He came back with stuffed Cornish game hens with all the trimmings. These were not scraps or leftovers – these were freshly baked dinners, enough for all of us. It was the best meal I had ever eaten. Face and I still pray that God would bless than man for his generosity.
While Face and I enjoyed out time in Yosemite, we were mindful that we were supposed to be witnessing and preaching the gospel. It so happened that one day while we were sitting on a bench outside Yosemite Lodge, a young man struck up a conversation with Face. It was an interesting discussion about God, Jesus, and Christianity in general. I chimed in now and then in order to share in the conversation. I thought it was rather nice; however, on the shuttle ride back to the campsite, Face rebuked me for not keeping silent and being in submission.
Me: Why should I keep silent? We are all called to witness and share our faith.
Face: When Jesus was teaching, do you think the disciples had anything to add?
Me: (Silence. Dumbfounded silence.)
To this day, we both laugh at the memory. This is the only time I remember Face busting my chops over the submission thing. Looking back, I don’t think he was all that committed to it. He just wanted a nice, friendly woman for a wife, which I was, so there was no problem.
We began our married life with the understanding that any two people who follow Jesus and treat each other with love, kindness, respect, and courtesy could get along. We decided to show each other the same courtesy that we would show a stranger. This had worked well for us.
Face was (and still is) the best teacher in spiritual concepts that I ever had. From the beginning, he impressed on me that God loves me and that the best thing I could do is to let God love me. To Face, following Jesus was not about following a set of rules and regulations; it was about love. He opened my eyes to a large way of living, one I had never before considered. He “set my feet in a large room.”
Note to self: I did not know Face when I married him, but I am very pleased that I said yes.