From a GREAT song to a true STORY
You'll find a grab-bag of stories here...From the Group W Bench, which is now gone, but definitely not forgotten. It sat in front of what - for years - was a small camera shop, run by a retired couple. It was next to both a very popular College Bar...Nick's English HUT & an Ice Cream Emporium - Jiffy Treet. Countless people have fotos of themselves on this bench, both before and after someone stencilled GROUP W on it in black lettering. Some of those pix include me, but of course most don't...Patrons of Nick's with no "designated" driver, would wait on the bench for a taxi to ferry them home...OR, people would simply peruse the passing parade of humanity, often with dogs in tow...as you can see, the wood is well-weathered, and that black paint mostly gone...
Plus the Alice's Restaurant Massacree
As a draft rejectee who went through a vaguely similar experience - sans any evidence of a specific bench or room one could liken to Guthrie's GROUP W - in the fall of 1967, I can, nonetheless, attest to the brilliance of Arlo's insight into the nature of the military mind and the political conundrums amongst we human beings that lead to the phenomenon known as WAR...
Perusing the story of the littering and how Guthrie used it in his masterpiece, Alice's Restaurant - where basically, he is refusing to be PROGRAMMED, SOCIALLY, into thinking war is perpetually the fate of the species - will help my visitors here understand the sense of humor involved in the painting of
in a park bench sitting next to a tavern, where patrons waiting for a taxi after imbibing could sit in DIGNITY...originally, I would sit on the stone window sill to play my guitar and sing...around sunset, during the warm months of the year. THEN, the bench appeared! The people who ran the photography shop in the small space behind the bench have retired, and the store has turned over a few times since then. When a huge renovation of the storm drainage under the street required the digging up of even the sidewalk, the steps into the store were replaced with a handicap accesible ramp, and the bench became a part of Bloomington's history...a short foot-note, perhaps, but quite a colorful one!