I just arrived home after visiting my son, Tim. Last year, on Thanksgiving 2010, my son and I went on a quest to hunt down a turkey baster for the preparation of the Thanksgiving bird. It started at 10 o’clock in the morning. We headed off in the family car and it was soon into thirty minutes of our sojourn, I realized that I was missing Pierre Robert’s traditional playing of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacre; Tim’s mother had a habit of flipping around the preset stations when commercials were playing too long. I quickly turned to WMMR’s preset home on button #1 and felt disheartened as Arlo was finishing up.
However the gloom soon vanished when Pierre announced that he would be playing Alice’s Restaurant again within an hour and half or so...taking into account the eighteen minute and some odd seconds of song/tale. Tim asked me why it was a big deal and I explained that I have my own personal traditions.
I told Tim how Arlo was arrested for littering with a half-ton of garbage that was packed into a red VW micro-bus. Tim thought it was funny when I told him how the police pulled out all sorts of CSI equipment and the twenty-seven 8x10 color glossy photographs with the circles and arrows, along with a paragraph on the back to explain each one. Tim became very interested in the story behind the song, which is the story in the song.
Tim with his positive outlook on things said “Well Daddy, its going to repeat. So if we hurry we can listen to it on the way home.”
Before the song, courtesy of Pierre, was repeated we finished our quest and procured a turkey baster at the department store that was so very happy to see a customer that was not camping out front awaiting the Black Friday alarm.
We drove home listening to Alice’s Restaurant, with Tim laughing and giggling...sometimes repeating a funny line like “father rapers, ” or how the fellow Group W bench mates moved away from Arlo when he said he was arrested for littering, and moved back when he added unruly behavior.
Today, Thanksgiving 2011, I was driving home from Tim’s grave when I heard Pierre announce the vinyl cut of Alice’s Restaurant. It jarred the memory in full detail as I parked in a lot and listened; the pain of missing my beloved son was eased just a bit for the day.
I am thankful this Thanksgiving for having been blessed with a son such as Tim, as I am equally blessed with his sisters who are too young to understand. So I thank Pierre for giving me this memory. Although Tim had heard Alice’s Restaurant many times over his short life, it was the first time he listened and understood the humor and his own personal message.