The Letter and The Counterculture

The Letter and The Counterculture

By Ed DeJesus

The red rhododendrons in front of the government building were blooming. The sunny forecast for Tuesday, June fourth, 1968, was great. Ideal weather to take a half-day off from my monotonous mail clerk job at the IRS in Andover, MA. I showed the letter to my hefty Italian supervisor, who said, “Ming-ya! Okay, Ed.”

I used the pay phone and left a message for my girlfriend at Dracut High School’s office. I’d pick her up as planned, not what I told my boss. She was graduating in a few days and would leave early. I started my red ’62 Chevy Nova convertible and stuffed my necktie in the glove box. I sped north on Route 93. Simon and Garfunkel’s overplayed number-one song blared on WRKO (AM). I patted the letter in my shirt pocket and altered the ending.

“What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson? G. I. Joe has left and gone away, hey, hey, hey …”

I parked on Lakeview Ave, outside Dracut High, dropped the white convertible top, and admired my gorgeous girl scampering toward my car. Her glittering gray eyes and high cheekbones were surrounded by light brown hair, reaching the royal blue top she filled out perfectly. My Lowell High School ’67 class ring dangling from a chain drew more attention to her bosom. She slid her shapely legs and revealing thighs in her plaid mini skirt across the red vinyl bench seat, gave me a peck on the lips, and we were off.

Her hair fluttered in the sunny top-down weather as we drove by the Navy Yard and Walbrook Pizza on Pleasant to Riverside Street, then cruised along the Merrimack River on Pawtucket Boulevard. She raised the radio’s volume to The Young Rascal’s “People Got To Be Free.”

All the world over, so easy to see.

People everywhere just wanna be free…
There’s peace in the valley, people got to be free.

We shared a smile, knowing we were free to do whatever we wanted on this peaceful afternoon in the Merrimack Valley. We’d been dating exclusively for eighteen months, and when we’d sneak away, our favorite song was Tommy James’ “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Today, we wouldn’t have to park by the river and watch the submarine races late at night—or use the Commodore Ballroom’s parking lot after seeing the Doors and other mega bands opened by the Sherwoods—to satisfy our desires.

I pulled into Glennie’s Ice Cream stand (now Heritage Farms). She looked enticing, licking her chocolate cone with jimmies while I slurped a chocolate ice cream root beer float. Her French Canadian parents worked at Paris Shoe in Lowell’s Bridge Street mills, a few floors above my first job out of high school in Lowell Shoe’s warehouse. We knew their Dracut home off Textile Ave would be empty until her younger brothers got home from school.

I parked in front of her house. We rushed inside and giggled while we descended the cellar steps to the finished basement. A Linda Ronstadt poster shared a brown-paneled wall with a Dracut Middies pendant. I sat on the well-worn daybed across from the small TV that entertained us many nights with the Smothers Brothers and Laugh-in: Sock It to Me, Sock It to Me.

Her Beatles, Doors, and other albums were beside the Symphonic stereo console. She turned the radio on and sat beside me. We kissed slowly; her sweet chocolate ice cream-coated tongue found mine. We stretched out on the cushion while Herb Albert gently sang, “This Guy’s in Love With You.”

After we’d freshened up, her brothers arrived and headed to the backyard. We carried lemonade in Tupperware cups outside to the bungalow’s front porch and sat on a loveseat. The birds were tweeting, and the bees were humming around the pink Azaleas when her folks pulled in behind my car. Her mom looked at us suspiciously and asked why I wasn’t at work. She showed her Franco-American parents my letter. Her father mumbled, “En Criss!” It was similar to one their son had received; he was still on active duty. Her mom asked, “Can you stay for suppah?”

She helped her mother make dinner. Her father opened the Lowell Sun to the sports section. We got well acquainted the previous summer, following the Sox ’67 dream team. He was a good man with a WWII Bronze Star. I thought about my dad and what transpired two months earlier.

On the first day of April, I turned eighteen. Many Lowell area guys had died in Vietnam, and I was worried about getting drafted. My dad had served six years in the National Guard and four more in WWII. The former medic cared for his fellow Vets in the Bedford, MA, VA Hospital and was on Lowell’s Selective Service—Draft Board.

Just three nights later, on April 4, 1968, our family watched coverage of Dr. King’s assassination. My father had worked in Lowell’s Democratic campaign office for President Kennedy and for his brother, Senator Robert F Kennedy, who was making a unifying speech that night in Indianapolis. Dad raised the Zenith TV’s volume.

“I have bad news for you… Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight. Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort …

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.”

Dad’s eyes teared up. I swallowed hard and focused on the rest of RFK’s prophetic speech.

“We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder. But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land…. Let us say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

When the news changed to updates on Vietnam, I said, “Dad, I don’t support the war. But I’ll join the Army Reserves. If my Division gets called up, I’ll fight as you did in Europe.” Dad nodded, flicked his lighter, and fired up a Camel.

Over dinner, her parents suggested we see the Ste-Jeanne d’Arc parish priest like her brother, who got engaged before he left for active duty.

I left her house, drove down Textile Ave, passed by Lowell Technological Institute—now Lowell University’s North Campus—and wondered if I’d have been better off with a college deferment. My parents never finished high school; we were working class bound; my three siblings and I never considered college. My older brother’s wife got pregnant; he joined the Army Reserves a year earlier and told me it was safer than getting drafted. I hoped he was right.

Sharing my order’s letter with everyone had been an emotional day. I was drained when I got home, but Dad was jubilant. Robert Kennedy had just won the South Dakota Democratic Primary and led in California. He boasted, “Bobby will end the war before you return from boot camp.”  “Hope so,” I said, and we both went to bed.

The next morning, June 5, I heard the TV in the living room and Mom consoling Dad. RFK had been shot last night in California! I was stunned and sick to my stomach. “Not again,” I said, vividly recalling the dreary November day in ’63 when I came home from Butler Junior High. Mom was weeping. Dad was kneeling in front of the TV, praying JFK would pull through an emergency operation; his praying turned to uncontrollable sobs when Walter Cronkite announced that President Kennedy had died.

Back then, I was young and helpless. This morning, I hugged my trembling, distraught father. He took the day off, and I headed into the IRS, dazed, confused, and angry.

Simpler Times in The Spindle City of Lowell was gone. Replaced with tumultuous times nationwide. [i]

In late August, rioters outside of the ’68 Chicago Democratic Convention shouted, “The whole world is watching,” while Police beat on war protesters, journalists, photographers, and bystanders. Hundreds were injured; eleven died.

The following month, I was crawling under barbed wire, toting my M16 in the tropical woods called ‘Tiger Land.’ My basic training was in Fort Polk, Louisiana, where its humid weather and jungle-like terrain would simulate the conditions in Vietnam. After boot camp, I had ten weeks of combat medical training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX.

In November, Nixon won the presidency in an election in which most soldiers and I were too young to vote but old enough to carry weapons to defend our country. I was fortunate to remain stateside. Over fifty-eight thousand soldiers, including eleven hundred medics, died in Vietnam. Many more returned disabled, bearing physical and mental lifelong burdens. We could only say, “Welcome home, and thank you for your service.”

When I returned from active duty in March 1969, my attractive girlfriend was now a cashier in the service department at Waldimer Pontiac, where my friend everyone called ‘B’—short for Beantown boy attending Boston University—worked part-time detailing cars. B said, “She’s ready for Hollywood.”

I was proud and planned to put a ring on her finger. But when she said, “It’s time we start dating others.” I felt like an abandoned prisoner of war in a shuttered mill in Lowell.

I was barely nineteen, miserable, and lost. I started hanging out with B to keep tabs on my ex. He was a fun college guy into clubbing, pot, and everything that had changed since I’d been away. B gave me the scoop, “She’s out of your league, dating a med student who has his Pontiac Firebird serviced at Waldimer.” And now he was servicing my ex.

Several months later, The Lowell Sun announced her engagement to the son of a Lowell doctor. I sure was out of her league, as forty years later, her older brother told me she was on her fifth husband. God had spared me then, and it wasn’t long before I had moved on.

I’d left the IRS for a Design Automation tech position with Raytheon’s missile division in Wayland, MA, and took engineering night courses at Lowell Tech Institute. I’d traded my Nova convertible for a new ice-blue ’68 Dodge Charger with a black vinyl roof, bucket seats, and hideaway headlights. I’d dated former high school girls and my older sister’s friends, all of whom were cute, but none turned me on.

“Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Timothy Leary ‘66. His mind-altering message and psychedelics permeated the minds of hippies and musicians who spoke for the counterculture.

In August of ’69, when many of my friends slept in muddied tents and partied peacefully with a half million others for three days in Woodstock, NY, I also slept in a tent in upstate New York. Instead of my tie-dye tank top and jeans, I wore green fatigues and ate K9 rations for two weeks while bivouacking at Camp Drum, NY. It was still better than being in Nam.

The war continued devastating families, inciting more protests, more drug use, and alternative music. Beantown had WBCN playing entire albums of heavy-metal rock, blues bands, and underground music catering to a quarter million anti-war college students and drawing them in all weekend to The Boston Tea Party, which held small concerts and propelled J Geils, the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Zeppelin, Traffic, the Allman Brothers, and countless others.

Lowell had the Commodore with pop rock bands; I’d grown out of that young teen scene. Moved on to nightclubs with bands covering top-forty songs, entertaining mostly hard-working beer guzzlers, and a few potheads. I wore my dark-brown styled hair longer, and with a mustache—although underage—I acted as if I belonged in The Cinnamon Lounge on Pawtucket Blvd, and my favorite haunt, The Peppermint Lounge on Princeton Blvd, where B and my other friends gathered.

The Peppermint, owned by Mac Jenney, had the largest dance floor and stage. The dynamic house band, with twelve members, was appropriately named Mac’s Mob. Frontmen Dick Paris and Danny White belted out Sam and Daves’ “Soul Man,” Wilson Picket’s “Mustang Sally,” and other Motown hits, and their featured brass section blew you away with Blood, Sweat, and Tears and Chicago covers that filled the dance floor.

A week before Christmas of ’69, I was in downtown Lowell, a popular place to hang out on Thursday nights on Merrimack Street. I stopped in The Ultimate, a hip clothing boutique a few doors down from the Dutch Team Room and bought a leather belt with a silver peace buckle. A cute girl with long blonde hair in a beige leather jacket by the jewelry counter smiled at me. She pointed at a gold necklace with a (sun, moon, and stars) pendant and said, “Ed. Do you think my sister would like that?”

Wondering how she knew me, I asked, “How’s your sister doing?”

“Great,” she said. “She graduated from Berklee School of Music and is practicing with Boston’s cast of the musical Hair!” I realized she was the younger, all-grown-up-now sister of a Chelmsford girl my best friend in high school had dated. I said, “Your sister will love it.”

The sweet blonde helped me find Christmas gifts for my mother across the street in the Bon Marché department store. I started seeing this lovely, slender nursing grad through the holidays and into 1970. She always wore classy outfits at a nice restaurant or just a movie and pizza. She was a terrific dancer and made me look good at the Peppermint, where I showed her off. She was adored by all the guys and gals in my circle. The straight-as-an-arrow, health-conscious nurse didn’t smoke or drink and never complained when we partied around her, or even if I only called her once a week. She was kind and clever and found other ways to see me more often.

She surprised me with Three Dog Night tickets. They rocked the Manchester NH Armory with “Mama Told Me Not To Come,” “Try a little Tenderness,” “Eli’s Coming,” “One,” and my favorite, “Easy to be Hard.” She was good to me, too good for me.

I continued to hang out with B and my other buddies. On Friday night, March 20, 1970, Herb Reed and the Platters were headlining at the Peppermint. They played there every other month. Older couples slow danced to their fifties hits, “The Great Pretender,” Only You,” and “Twilight Time.” Mac’s Mob would open for them.

I pulled my Charger into the Peppermint’s parking lot near B’s ’63 Chevy four-door Impala. I jumped in his car and partied with our other friends, J and Walrus. J was a popular black guy—B, and I grew up with in the Lower Highlands—and our prime source for joints or any amount of weed you’d need. The Walrus—a John Lennon moniker J gave him—was a big dude with shoulder-length sandy hair and a thick, awesome mustache that would make David Crosby envious.

Not wanting to bogart, I passed the joint to B; he took a hit and thumbed it to Walrus, who attached a clip. J scratched his Afro and said, “The Young Bloods are at the Tea Party tonight.”

The Walrus smiled and said, “Tough choice… The Platters or Jessi Colin Young.”

We chuckled and kept on laughing while B drove his Chevy into Beantown. The multi-level Boston Tea Party on Lansdowne Street, across from Fenway Park, had a twenty-five hundred capacity. We paid $3.50, entered the smoky, dimly lit venue, squeezed by the stoned-out hippies, bikers, and college crowd, and located the stage. We enjoyed the Youngbloods’ music and dug the chorus of “Get Together.”

Come on, people, now, smile on your brother

Everybody get together try to love one another right now.

Right now. Right now!

B drove back to Lowell and dropped J and Walrus off at their homes. When we returned to the Peppermint, the Platters had finished their last set. The bouncer said, “Party at the Executive Apartments on Westford Street.” It was late; I was dragging, but I followed B in my car.

We entered the apartment and scanned the hangers-on in the living room of the subdued party. A wasted dude was nodding out on the couch between two girls; other guys stood across the room like a segregated teenage sock-hop. I caught the eyes of a cute chick with long dark hair checking me out when I followed B into the empty kitchen and back. I trailed B toward the exit door. The intriguing girl said, “Leaving already?”

B left. I stayed to check out the curvy girl in jeans and a purple top with bullets, distracting me from her pretty face. We exchanged full names and realized we were both Portuguese; vibes were getting stronger, and the room felt warmer. I asked where I could put my leather jacket. She led me to a hallway closet, opened the bi-folds, and made room next to her Pea coat.

She turned to face me. We embraced and kissed until I said, “Let’s split this party.” She grabbed her coat, and we went straight to my Charger. I asked her, “What music are you into?” She said, “I went to Woodstock; I love everything.”

The free-spirited girl joined me in the back seat for some heavy petting, and the windows fogged up while the Beatles Abbey Road tape burned in my 8-track deck.

After Lennon’s I want you! I want you so bad, played for the second time around, she was still driving me mad, as I hadn’t taken it as far as I had with other free spirits. She gently pushed me away and said, “I better get back before… Here Comes the Sun rises.” I laughed, jotted down her phone number, and thought about her all weekend.

The following Monday, March 23, 1970, I started working as a computer-aided design (CAD) technician at Digital Equipment Corporation’s Maynard, MA, mill complex. I had no idea it would last twenty-eight years, or I’d develop software tools, architect their Artificial Intelligence (AI) CAD system, attain senior engineering management positions, and later entrepreneurial executive positions with other start-up firms. [ii]

Excited about my new job, I called the Portuguese cutie a few days later. I learned her dad was Portuguese, and her mom was French—a hot-blooded combo, I thought. She’d graduated from Dracut High in ’69 and moved in with her sister, a single mom. My birthday was approaching on April 1; hers was later in the month; she was two years younger. I asked, “Wanta help me celebrate mine?” I felt like a fool when she said, “Sorry. I…just got back with my boyfriend.”

Just as well, I thought. God knows I don’t need another French Dracut dish to leave a bad taste in my mouth. But God had other plans.

My golden-haired nurse, with a heart of gold, made me forget the Woodstock chick by surprising me for my twentieth birthday with second-row seats at the Wilbur Theater for Hair.

We were mesmerized by the performance and memorable hits: “Aquarius,” “Good Morning Starshine,” “Hair,” and “Easy to Be Hard.”

Especially people who care about strangers
Who care about evil and social injustice…

Hair’s satirical portrayals of government mistrust, drugs, sexual freedom, gays, racial equality, civil rights, and anti-war protests personified the counterculture’s mission. The first act ended with a smoothly choreographed scene of half the cast, including her smiling sister, emerging from under a flowered sheet in a full-frontal nude flash while the curtains slowly closed.

The storyline: a country boy on his way to enlist in the army gets sidetracked by hippie protesters who try to convince him to stay with his girlfriend; he goes to Vietnam and gets shot. He appears as a ghost, invisible to everyone, sadly symbolizing how many vets felt they were treated upon returning from Nam.

The grand finale song, “Flesh Failures / Let the Sun Shine In,” captivated the audience. The song mocked the insanity of the war and our failed, greedy consumerism culture. I was pumped when they began to sing, “Let the sun shine… Let the sunshine in.” They came off the stage, ran up and down the aisles, dancing and singing, “Let the sunshine in.”

They returned to the stage, walked off, and left behind the dead soldier wearing the same green fatigues I wore. I was bummed, but that was the hard, sobering message Hair wanted to deliver. Make love and peace, not war.

We had backstage passes. After the show, her sister introduced us to the cast, who hugged us like we were part of their peace-loving commune. And I needed those hugs.

A few weeks later, I started carpooling to Digital in Maynard with KG, a Lowell High classmate who was also in my Army Reserve unit. We’d alternate between my Dodge Charger and his Karmann Ghia. KG shared my passion for getting ahead and having fun; we ultimately became lifelong friends. I introduced him to B; when we weren’t chasing girls in Maynard, we hung out with the Peppermint crowd and reserved Saturday nights for our favorite blondes. We also bonded with a larger group of guys at our Lowell-based Army Reserve unit.

The majority of Vietnam enlisted or drafted soldiers were minorities and working-class guys. But, the war had dragged on for so long that undergrads, and even grad students, would soon be losing their deferments, vulnerable to the draft in a war that politicians had no plans of ending soon. Many burned their draft cards; some fled to Canada.

Unfortunately, instead of withdrawing from Vietnam to end this unwinnable war, Nixon pushed into Cambodia and tried to sell it as a slow withdrawal. (Decades later, the Nixon Tapes revealed he and Kissinger used the war as a ‘72 reelection strategy).

That spring, campus protests ramped up nationwide. While our college friends peacefully protested in the Boston Common on Saturdays, our Army Reserve meetings in Lowell and Fort Devens in Ayer, MA, focused on riot control training. We’d march with gas masks on in a V-wedge formation and led with our bayonets to break through a crowd. I hated it and hoped we’d never patrol a demonstration. We were weekend warriors with guns and riot gear but ardently integrated with the counterculture. We’d tie our long hair in a ponytail and tuck it under our army caps to pass inspection; after five failures or absentee demerits, you’d get activated to Nam.

On Friday, May 29, 1970, KG and I took our favorite blondes to a riveting CSNY performance at the Boston Garden. Joints flowed freely in the jammed-packed concert. After their crowd-pleasing hits— “Suite Judy Blue Eyes,” “Teach Your Children,” “Long Time Gone,” and “Carry On”— everyone was screaming, rocking, and reeking of pot.

Stephen Stills calmed the audience and announced they were debuting a song that Neil Young had written days earlier. Young’s bold, haunting lyrics unleashed the memory and mood of the country’s shock and outrage in the recent wake of the Kent State tragedy.

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’

We’re finally on our own

This summer, I hear the drummin’

Four dead in O hi o.

Gotta get down to it

Soldiers are gunning us down

Should’ve been done long ago

What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know

When the audience caught on and joined in repeating the gut-wrenching refrain, Four dead in Ohio,” my body was rushing, my heart was racing, and I held back tears. They closed that concert with Steven Stills’ sobering song “Find the Cost of Freedom.” Buried in the ground. Mother Earth will swallow you. Lay your body down.

That concert shook me to my core. Ohio was banned from the radio by the Nixon Administration, but it sold more CSNY albums. We served six years with the Army Reserves, and whenever I heard Ohio, it made me pine for those Kent State students and the Guardsmen trained like us. Even today’s violent protests can trigger those ugly memories of Kent State and the Chicago riots. I cope by writing about them, encased within fonder memories.

Environmentalism and feminism grew out of the counterculture’s tuned-out hippie communes. They pioneered living off-grid with solar panels to heat their water and spawned organic foods. They unleashed the sexual revolution well beyond their confines. Women burned their bras, wore halter tops, and with birth control, one-night stands were more common.

When you’re young, sex is at the forefront of your mind. KG was taller and better looking; he had five for every girl I got lucky with. I didn’t mind being his wingman, but I did better alone. I was also working long hours for Digital, trying to focus on a career and longing for a lover to settle down with.

On Thursdays and Fridays, I’d search for girls at the Peppermint and Cinnamon and go wherever they led me. I was seeing a young single mother who—once she tucked her child in for the night—left the door open for me on weeknights.

I’d spend most Saturday nights with my easy-going nurse, who made me feel guilty when she explained why she was loyal and patient: “You’re a gentleman, fun to be with, and ambitious.” Everyone thought I’d marry her, and I might have eventually, had I not serendipitously run into another lover.

The Peppermint had Sunday matinee jam sessions from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Minors could get in accompanied by adults, and if you could sing or play an instrument, you could jam with Mac’s Mob. On the Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving of 1970, I was milking a beer and chatting with an older, attractive barfly. When the band started playing “Soul Man,” the sexy woman yanked me to the dance floor.

Well grab the rope, and I’ll pull you in. Give you hope and be your only boyfriend.

When I returned to the bar, my grinning older cousin steered me to a booth by the dance floor to meet a single mother he’d been dating and her family. He introduced me to the smiling mom and her giggling toddler daughters—drinking Shirley Temples—sitting beside their alluring aunt who said, “Well, hi there!” They must have seen me on the dance floor.

I couldn’t control my grinning when my laughing cousin motioned me to sit in the booth. I shrugged and returned to the bar to collect my leather jacket, beer, and thoughts. I had to be respectful to my Portuguese cousin and his four guests from Dracut. But I was leery about the curvy, free-spirited beauty I hadn’t seen or heard from since she rebuffed me eight months ago.

I planned to finish my beer with them and excuse myself at the right moment. But it never came. Mac’s Mob began playing Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” Her sister, nieces, and my cousin got up and started dancing fast.

“Come on,” she said and grabbed my hand. We joined them in the dancing circle but kept our eyes on each other. The band followed with Chicago’s “Colour My World.” We began to dance slowly. We moved closer, her head on my shoulder; we fit perfectly.

Colour my world—with hope of loving you.

We closed that jam session, and I spent that evening and the entire following Thanksgiving weekend with this irresistible, fun-loving girl. Coincidentally, like me, her first full-time job was at Lowell Shoe: hers in the mill’s office, mine in the warehouse.

When I commuted from Lowell to and from my job at Digital’s Maynard Mills, I’d play Abbey Road, the tape we heard the first night we met. Harrison’s “Something” was now my go-to.

Something in the way she moves. Attracts me like no other lover…

You’re asking me will my love grow—I don’t know, I don’t know

You stick around, and it might show—I don’t know, I don’t know.

I honestly didn’t know, but I stuck around. I saw her every night and on weekends. Call it burgeoning love or lust; our fever-pitched passion was insatiable. We couldn’t get enough of each other. I had no time for other girls or even my friends unless they wanted to double-date.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman. One who will take me, for myself
And if I find my hard headed woman, I won’t need nobody else

By Christmas, we were totally into each other and got into Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman. His ballads “Wild World” and “Father and The Sun” were great, but his lesser-known “Hard Headed Woman” set the focus for me.

            I’m looking for a hard headed woman. One who’ll make me do my best.

            And if I find my hard headed woman, I know the rest of my life will be blessed       

And every Christmas since then, I’ve been blessed to have this beautiful, hard-headed woman by my side, who always made me do my best. Through the years, we’ve worked, played, fought, and loved hard, nurturing all the love and toughness it takes to survive through thick and thin.

For our wedding’s first dance in May of ’72, she chose the Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun.” In ’74, she agreed to quit her office job, and we opened a record store in Maynard, MA, a block from my office at Digital. We soon bought our first of ten homes. We had a fun five-year run in our store, The Music Stop, and then started a family. We raised two beautiful children in Lowell’s suburbs and a lakeside vacation home in Laconia, NH. We clawed and climbed our corporate careers, retired early, and are still dancing while we travel around the world.

Music has always been my muse, my drug of choice. Life’s all about choices: I’ve made millions. Opening a record store while I kept my job was one of my better ones. It took us out of the darkness in the mill city of Lowell into the light in the mill town of Maynard, forced us to fend for ourselves, and proved that we could do anything together. My safest choice was joining the Army Reserves; the best was marrying my hard-headed woman.

Sir Paul McCartney’s final line on Abbey Road’s “The End” nailed it!

And in the end. The love you take is equal to the love you make.



[i] Simpler Times in The Spindle City is the working title for a collection of short story memoirs (like this one) about the author’s adventures growing up in Lowell in the ‘60s.

[ii] Ed DeJesus (pronounced D Geezus) is a former tech executive and software engineer with a diverse career. He has published in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Design Automation with Digital Equipment Corp. As an entrepreneur, he opened a record store when vinyl was hip; as VP of Engineering, he launched MSL’s Design Division pre-IPO; he was CEO-founder of; and was President of Sightline Solar. He served in the US Army Reserves and was a realtor and mortgage originator. A Florida Gulf Coast Writers Association member, his latest novel, The Vulnerable, is an Eco-thriller set in Massachusetts and Florida. He’s a contributor to Richard’s blog, where his short stories debuted on ‘Voices of Lowell and Beyond.’

Born in Lowell, MA, he raised his family in Chelmsford, MA, and retired in Fort Myers, FL, where he weathered two category-4 hurricanes. When Ed’s not immersed in his writing or at the gym, he finds joy in reading, dancing, singing Karaoke, and exploring the world with his wife and children, who reside in NH and Sydney, Australia. His education includes Computer Science from Boston University, Creative Writing from UMass Lowell, solar NABCEP from Quinsigamond College, NAR MA Realtor, and NMLS MA/NH Mortgage Originator.


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