by Lauri Fraser
Like most of you, I just can't think of Jimi Hendrix without thinking about my Grandma.
Sunset Blvd. was the coolest place to be growing up. Just being in Hollywood in the sixties no matter how old you were and I was YOUNG! I took dancing and fencing lessons at three, at the Falcon Studios on Hollywood Blvd. and then it was sneaking into the teen age fair when I was twelve, and then having my friends drop me off at my tap class, while they went to Tower Records and stole eight track and cassette tapes and then picked me up on the way home. We were at the tail end of the Baby boomers. I liken it to the tale on the dragons back. The closer to the butt of the dragon the slower you got into things like alcohol, and weed, and if you were at the end of the tail, like we were, then you had to hurry up and smoke drink, drop acid, and experience life at warp speed to catch up to our big brothers and sisters who we got stuck being dragged around with. Those of us who didn't die or kill ourselves wound up, for the most part, responsible human beings. It was 1972. I had turned 15 and my grandmother was going to take me out for my birthday. Usually we would go to Sears & Roebuck and get new roller skates. The good kind. The white boot skates. One year we got Hobi Skateboards. All wood with ball bearings in the wheels. Well this year I was through with toys. I had been to the teenage fair and saw Jimi Hendrix light his guitar on fire on the stage. I didn't want roller-skates or a skateboard. Although I was a responsible good girl, I wore Goodnight slicker lipstick by Yardley cosmetics, and had a War is not healthy for children and other living things necklace . I drank Boons farm Apple Wine, and smoked Terryton cigarettes. I sold pot to raise money for my boyfriend to escape to Canada to avoid the draft, but he only made it to Turlock Calif., where he met a group of stoners who he partied with spent all the pot money, and eventually came home. I was well beyond my years and I was through with toys. I wanted a suede cowboy jacket with the fringe on the back and down the arms.So we went to the only place that a cool person would go to get a jacket like that. Sunset Blvd. ,to a store, where they sold Llama skin rugs and large brass water pipes, and a ha! Brown Cowboy jackets with fringe!!! My grandmother would only by us the best. Also a size or two, too big as she said we'd grow into it. The only thing was, that by that time, it was out of style and we hoped to heck we'd never grow into it. . My grandmother was a health freak way before her time. She'd make this 32 vegetable soup that she'd make us eat. She was a vegetarian and would make hamburgers out of mushrooms and nuts, sans the meat, and although she kicked my grandfather out of the house for cheating on her with "those Hussies," then continued to cook for him, putting the pots and pans full of food on the porch and calling him on the phone with an "It's ready!" then slamming the phone down. If he died because of a bad diet, she didn't want it hanging over her head so she continued to cook for him. She was wild in her youth. A Russian immigrant, she used to break broncos in Winnipeg, Canada, where she migrated.
She took a trip to Russia and was taking pictures on the roof of her hotel (don't ask) and got arrested because they thought she was a spy. She had long wild curlygrey hair. She played the mandolin for the old folks though she was older than most of the old folks. Snow skied until she was 68 and ice-skated until she was 72. Oh, she was a looming vulture on the ice rink, skating bent over with her hands behind her, wearing those big black racing skates, just like one of the hockey referees. She was the REAL head of the family. Controlling, and "Clairvoyant" as she used to say. She'd look at my blond boyfriend and accuse him of dying his hair. "What color do you use on your hair?When he denied it, she'd say, "Hrmph. How dumb do you think I am?" One of her most used lines were "You don't look so good. You eat allot of beef?" She swore that eating meat was a death sentence and that the deli was just a plot to kill the Jews. Once she asked my boyfriend that question and then asked how old he was. 18,he replied. "Hm. I'll be amazed if you make it to 20. When we were on our way home I asked him what he wanted to do now and he said, he didn't feel well and just wanted to go home. She was pretty convincing when she wanted to be.
So here we were on Sunset Blvd. in the hippie shop with all the leather and suede and I look up and there as plan as day in all his glory right down to the purple headband across his forehead, was JIMI HENDRIX. Yes, it was him. I couldn't believe it. I turned to tell someone, but there was no one. No one but my grandma. Does she even know who Jimmy Hendrix is? There's got to be someone else to tell. I run outside only to find a vacant sidewalk and not a sole on it. "Grandma, come ere. Come ere!" "What?" "Shhh. Shhh. See that guy? That's Jimmy Hendrix. He's famous. He's a god in the rock world." "Hm. Doesn't look so good. I start to pray that she doesn't say anything and she doesn't. whew. We get up to the counter and there he is, paying for his Llama skin rug. She looks right into his eyes and says, "You don't look so good. You eat allot of beef?" Oh my God. No he doesn't eat allot of beef, grandma, he shoots allot of Heroin. My God, by this time I am dying of embarrassment. "Huh?" Jimi Hendrix said Huh to my grandmother! He spoke to my grandmother! "Well she says, you look a little puffy and I'll tell you something. If you don't change your diet, you won't be long for this world. I'm clairvoyant ya know."
That September only a few months later, Jimi Hendrix was dead. Would my friends ever believe me when I told them that my grandmother predicted Jimi Hendrix' death? Okay probably anyone could have predicted it, but my grandmother was the one who came right out and said it to him right there on Sunset Blvd.! When I told my grandmother she shrugged and said, I told you he didn't look so good. Health is wealth. That was another one of her lines. Health is wealth and living is giving. When I was going to get engaged, she asked me "Have you had sex with him yet?" Being the responsible teen of the growing up to fast crowd, I answered "No". "Maybe you should. What if he's lousy? Then you'll know". She never trusted anyone cooking for her, especially if she couldn't see what they were doing. When we'd go to the restaurant, the waiter would say "what would you like Mam and she'd say "I'd like.... to see your kitchen." Even upon her deathbed at Cedar Sini Hospital, she told the doctor he didn't look so good and asked him about his diet. She died of aneurism of the heart. She used to say that she was too busy to die. She had too much to do. If there is a heaven, she's probably making 32 vegetable soup and shoving down Jimi Hendrix. She had experienced allot in her lifetime, Enough anyway, to answer "Yes" Jimi Hendrix....if he ever get's the chance to ask her. But then again, by that time it could all just be a......purple haze.