Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This trip is all about Charles Houston Lacy, a boy who died too soon

Charlie he’s a good old boy
Charlie he’s a dandy
Charlie he’s a good old boy
He feeds them girls on candy

Shady Grove, popular folk song

Charlie was my good old boy. Charlie was my darling. I called him brown-eyed handsome man, young dude, rooster, and booger and stinker and fortunate son. We were virtually inseparable when he was growing up because we had few friends out in California and his daddy was on the road a lot with bands.
Charles Houston Lacy led, it seemed to me, a charmed life. We were never really rich but not really poor. Sometimes I worked, sometimes, magic times, I stayed home with him and we took walks, made gardens, read books; I painted during his naps.
Every week we cashed Doug’s checks from Jackson Browne and Billy Joel and Electric Light Orchestra, Rickie Lee Jones, Stevie Nicks, Todd Rundgren and The Tubes. When I walked to the bank in my red satin hotpants, pushing Charlie in the stroller, I was the rock and roll housewife, clicking up Sunset in high-heeled Candies and reading the names of the stars to Charlie on the way back down Hollywood Boulevard. We celebrated when his Daddy was on hiatus by building a captain’s bed for him and a log cabin studio next to our shotgun shack in Silver Lake, where we moved when he was nearly 2. Charlie and I traveled to Joshua Tree to climb the rocks and Idaho to meet his great granddad and Big Sur to see the elephant seals.
Charlie’s first real shoes were blue hiking boots, bought at a little shop on Hollywood Boulevard. He was was one of the first to officially walk Runyon Canyon in 1981, before it became a part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. He was only a year old and had to be carried down the estate road on Doug’s shoulders half the way back. He grew up hiking in the derelict estate that became a park the year he turned four and the canyon stayed his favorite place, through Sunday afternoon tours and tree plantings and full moon hikes. Later he and Ringo the dalmatian favored the “meadow,” as he called the abandoned Red Car Right-of-Way at the end of our street. Both these short stretches of urban paradise would host ”in the end, his epitaph.”

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