Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Kathi Acton, St. Michael's College, University Of Toronto, Class Of '68 - Fred Owens' Rembrance

That summer of 1967, I washed dishes in Montauk, Long Island.

That summer of 1967, after I came back to the world and realized, with great disappointment, that everybody had not had the same cosmic Realization that I had been through, I found myself at Montauk in Long Island working at a resort, killing lobsters and chopping parsley for the rich people. I went to work there because Kathi Acton was working, along with some other St. Mike’s girls, at a resort nearby. She was waiting on tables and only making about four times as much money as I did. What ever possessed me to want to be her boyfriend? Believe me, it didn’t last long.

I had gone to visit Mark Mikolas in New York City. He was staying with a psychiatrist by the name of Mark Stern, who lived in a luxurious and historic townhouse in Greenwich Village. It had walls full of wonderful books and fine art, deep pile rugs and a great stereo. Mark was going to his cottage for the summer, and he invited me to look after his place while he was gone for two months. No rent. All of New York City at my feet.

But noooooo, I had to turn it down. I had to go to Montauk and wash dishes for $85 a week with high school dropouts from Georgia just on the chance, only the chance, that Kathi and I might get along in a romantic way. We were both working so hard that we hardly had a chance to see one another, an hour a day at the most -- which was good because our relationship lasted about fourteen days of high intensity hi-jinks. It was, as they say, not meant to be.

She was so strong and she had no chin. I see one of those square-jawed announcers on television and I think, “He stole Kathi’s chin.” She had a small head, close-set eyes and wide hips. You didn’t notice how full her bosom was because she was a bit round-shouldered. She wasn’t pretty. She wore a pale-pink lipstick once, but it didn’t work. She walked like a man with a heavy heal that hit the ground.

She was a great cusser. I can’t cuss that well myself. She didn’t so much inspire as lecture. Someone pointed out to me, many years later, that she didn’t live up to the high standards that she urged on everyone else. Well, I never noticed it at the time, and I don’t fault her for it now.

She was smart, but all the women at St. Mike’s were smart, and generally smarter than the men. She was a go-between between the women and the men because she could make herself at home with either group -- that’s why she had the goods on all of us. It was easy for a man to be friends with her. I was always pawing at the other women, or drooling, or putting on a show. With her I could talk.

She was an instigator and impossible to please. If she knew I was writing this class history, she would be nagging me to finish it and make it a lot better than it is. She died about in 1984 from a brain tumor. I believe, and this is very interpretive, that she got so angry and completely frustrated with the impossible circumstance of her adult life, that her head just busted. I mean no disrespect -- she had power and no place to put it.

Two years after that, Brian Fredericks, her main boyfriend at college, also died. Kathi and Brian both died so young, and it seemed so eerie, as if Kathi was in some other Heaven and with all her power, she brought Brian back home with her. I believe they’re both happy now.

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Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

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