Holy Saint Man of Seventh Avenue South

by G.K. Stritch – find her on Amazon

When I was a little girl, early in the 1960s, my mother and father and sisters and brother and I were driving home from an outing at New York’s Central Park Zoo. My father drove down Seventh Avenue South and as we headed toward the Holland Tunnel a bearded, bespectacled man wearing sandals stood on the corner waiting for the light to change. I had never witnessed one such as this and asked my father, “What is that?”
“That,” he said, “Is a member of the Beat generation.”
Well, that was really too much, interesting and strange and frightening. I swear the man looked exactly like Allen Ginsberg. I was happy we were in the safety of the car and hoped the Beat didn’t see my staring at him. I’m sure I had never seen such a full black beard or a man wearing sandals on a city street. Where we came from, a small industrial city twenty‐six miles outside the big city, there were no bearded sandal‐wearing men. Who wore sandals and beards? Holy saints and prophets and here was the holy saint man of Seventh Avenue crossing the street.
“What does he do, the Beat?”
‘He writes poetry and drinks coffee and maybe plays jazz.”
“Where does he live?”
“Probably around here in one of the buildings.”
I didn’t know what to make of it. My father glanced at me and said, “Now sit down and stop staring.” I sat down and watched until saint man was gone.
Before I was born, my parents lit out to California, that’s Cal‐i‐forn‐i‐ay, like in the song, “There’s gold in them thar hills.” Dad couldn’t find a job, so as a newborn babe in 1957, my parents with my two older sisters, crossed country with me on the front seat. They were on the road and Dad wrote poetry and he drank coffee and my parents had a friend who played jazz, so maybe Daddy‐o, who knew so much about saint man, was a Beat man, too.

GK Stritch

GK Stritch is a contributor to Beatdom and the author of CBGB Was My High School. The book is available at the St. Mark's Bookshop, New York City, and amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

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