Phyllis Patterson RIP – She changed my life!

 

Phyllis Patterson RIP – She changed my life!

not my pic, Phyllis in the Costume trailer in Devore riding a broom

Vicky Nebeker’s pic of Phyllis riding a broom in the Costume trailer – Devore 1993

Many Tributes have been posted for a remarkable woman who passed away yesterday morning. Here is mine:

On May 11-12, 1963 schoolteacher Phyllis Patterson held a class activity in the backyard of her home in the Hollywood Hills. She and her husband, Ron Patterson presented the first Renaissance Pleasure Faire as a weekend fundraiser for radio station KPFK to 8000 people. The Faire was designed as an actual spring market fair of the Elizabethan period.

Phyllis Patterson RIP

Phyllis Patterson RIP

Phyllis Patterson RIP

Phyllis Patterson RIP

Phyllis Patterson RIP and Ivan doin' the Cocktail Walk! (another great Jenny pic)

Phyllis Patterson RIP and Ivana doin’ the Cocktail Walk! (another great Jenny pic)

 

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NOTE: Today is Monday, May 19.

Paramount Ranch Park - Agoura, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Paramount Ranch Park – Agoura, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

“Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself.”

My life changed in Spring 1980 when a friend from high school brought me to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire workshops at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura. I worked for the Living History Centre for the next 14 years, so her influence on me, my life, my ideology, and my reality is profound (as it is for so many others).

Eryk Bacon playin' wet & dirty, ale taxing the tourists in the streets of Chipping-Under-Oakwood 1480 (Agoura 1980)

Eryk Bacon playin’ wet & dirty, ale taxing tourists in the streets of Chipping-Under-Oakwood 1580 (Agoura 1980)

“You’re not special, and neither is your problem.”

Renaissance Pleasure Faire - Paramount Ranch, Agoura, CA

Renaissance Pleasure Faire – Paramount Ranch, Agoura, CA

I came to Agoura workshops and started performing at the Faire with the Mongers (The Guild of St. Swithin’s), hung out with folks from St. Helena’s (the peasants, middle and lower class characters), St. Minerva’s (Washerwomen), St. Blaise (Cryers), St. Paul’s (the Thieves & Cutpurses) and made a lot of new friends. The thrill and memory of doing live street improv in Witches’ Wood with Greg the Obscene Juggler for hundreds of people is one I can’t forget. The memory of performing in a night show or two, I wish everyone could forget…but I know there are pictures, because I have some.

“Don’t gamble if you can’t afford to win.” 

Mongers! Agoura 1980

Mongers! (St. Swithin’s) Michael, Jim, me, Roger and Richard – Agoura 1980

St. Paul's - Agoura '81 (classic lineup, my very good friends: unknown, Woderick the Wam, Walt, Cooper, Karen, Patty, Doug & Stacey - not pictured Eric, Phredd Daniels, Lisa & Nicole

St. Paul’s – Agoura ’81 classic lineup, my very good friends: unknown holding Woderick the Wam, Walt, Cooper, Karen, Patty, Doug & Stacey – not pictured Eric, Phredd, Daniels, Lisa & Nicole

“This is a Costume.”

In 1982, I got my first Crew job with the Costume Department (Much love to Carolyn, Chriss, Deborah, Vicky, Louise RIP, Freida RIP, Mary Jo RIP, Todi, Daria, Gretchen and Leslie!) and quickly made friends with all the theme characters, stage show performers, CREW and key Staff members.

“There’s no reason for it, it’s just our policy.”

The Costume Crew - Chriss, me, Gretchen & Daria, Agoura 1984

The Costume Crew at the Costume Shed – Chriss, me, Gretchen & Daria, Agoura 1984

“All the Faire’s a Stage!” – “Eat, Drynk & Be Merry!”

My first CREW gig! Press event at the Old Globe Theatre in West Hollywood with Chriss Spring 1982 (from the L.A. Times)

My first CREW gig! Press event, Old Globe Theatre, West Hollywood with Chriss – Spring 1982 This is the first and last time I played a Puritan! (from the L.A. Times)

“Whip me, beat me, show me you care. Make me work the Renaissance Faire.”

In Agoura, I joined the original Sea Dogs at DAW-SOB in 1982 with Captain Charles Taylor RIP. (Actually I was “Shanghai-ed” by Virginia, because I was good friends with her brother)  I was in attendance at Julie & Tracy’s wedding, Cat & Charles’ wedding, the weekend long 4th of July parties in Camarillo and the Antelope Valley, Christmas at Virginia & Mario’s (and the birth of their 3 children), and many New Years Eve parties at KJ’s mom’s house.

“Oh no, not another learning experience.”

Ahhh...Youth! Shirtless Behind DAW-SOB Agoura 1984

Ah, Youth! Behind DAW-SOB Agoura 1984

“As long as you’re having a good time.”

Pretty sure that's me center of between Lance & Keith, The Enterprise 5-20-83

Pretty sure that’s me center of the bales in white behind Virginia, between Lance & Keith – from The Enterprise 5-20-83

“This is a good day to go to jail” – 

Cat Taylor Overstreet's Pic of DAW-SOB Bloke's Group Pic 1985 (I'm in a crew shirt on the end next to Dwayne)

Cat Taylor Overstreet’s Pic of DAW-SOB Bloke’s Group Pic of Capt. Charles Taylor’s Sea Dogs, Agoura 1985 (I’m in a crew shirt, front row, on the end next to Dwayne)

“Ripe” – “Saucy” – “Juicy” – “Stewed” – “Seedy is as seedy does”

"End of the World" - Blackpoint Forest, Novato

“End of the World” – Blackpoint Forest, Novato

I was a Monger and a Soldier in Worthington’s Company-of-Foote (the original St. Michael’s) up north and was a Queen’s Chair-bearer for a couple years (yes, I was the left rear wheel on the Tudor sedan!). 

Worthington's Company-of-Foote Summer 1983

Front and Center with Worthington’s Company-of-Foote Summer 1983

Worthington's Company-of-Foote Summer 1984

Worthington’s Company-of-Foote Summer 1983

“I’ll see your attitude and raise you one.” – “When I want your advice I’ll beat it out of you.”

Dickens' Christmas Fair at the Fox Theatre in Oakland 1983-84

Dickens’ Christmas Fair at the Fox Theatre in Oakland 1983-84

I worked for Costumes and worked for Security at Dickens’ Fair in 1983 at the Fox Theatre in Oakland (and again in 1984) and the Southern Faire. So, I probably approved your costume or checked your passes at one time or another in the 1980s.

“Martyrdom is not as useful as you think.” – “We don’t care, we don’t have to.”

Living History Centre CREW Badge - Devore 1989

Living History Centre CREW Badge – Devore 1989

“No Scudi, No Booty.”

Fool's Guild Coronation of Greg the Obscene Juggler as King! Agoura 1985

Fool’s Guild Coronation of Greg the Obscene Juggler as King! Agoura 1985

I was a proud member of the Fool’s Guild (and the Lord Mayor’s Fool in Agoura sometimes), I partied with Jack, Toby Jo, Jonnathon, Skip, Clay, David and Andy at the Guildhall at Fountain & Harper and the Griffith Park Boys Camp! And later was involved in the American Puppet Theatre fiasco!

“Ya-Ta-Heh” – “I don’t care how you did it last Faire.” – “I can make your night a living hell.”

Clowning as the Lord Mayor's Fool, Agoura 1986

Backstage clowning as the Lord Mayor’s Fool, Agoura 1986

“Sudden prayers make G-d jump.”

I'm Still a Prisoner of Fun!

I’m still a “Prisoner of Fun!”

“We are amused.”

All Hail Saint Stupid!

All Hail Saint Stupid!

“Only if you brush your teeth.”

Camping in Pig's Gulch - Paramount Ranch, Agoura 1980

Tent Village Camping in Pig’s Gulch – Paramount Ranch, Agoura 1980

I camped in Pig’s Gulch and on Cardiac Hill (and slept in Actor’s Camp and a few other places too). I hot tubbed in the PIG. I dated one of Billy’s daughters. Maybe we shared a hooch, tent or shower stall? I had a hooch on-site in the Crow’s Nest above Drench-A-Wench by the snow fence in Agoura for a few years. Later relocated to a hooch behind New Forest and The Maze. “Sleep is for Sissies!” So for the years I was on Night Security, I only slept a little during the day (while commuting north and south to boot).

Guardshack - Blackpoint Forest, Novato (Dario took this pic)

Guardshack – Blackpoint Forest, Novato (Dario took this pic)

“Operating outside of design limitations.”

Security CREW - Blackpoint Forest, Novato

Security CREW – Blackpoint Forest, Novato

“Instant Authority Complex, Just Add Radio….And Stir.”

Tools of the Trade - Security Lieutenant (Walking, Nights, Front Gate and Mobile)

Tools of the Trade: Living History Centre Security Lieutenant – Walking, Nights, Front Gate & Mobile Security 1983-1994 (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel) – We kept it safe!

“What part of NO, don’t you understand?”

“Are you going to come quietly, or shall I pass out earplugs?”

I worked Living History Centre Security as a tunic and walking guard in 1983-84, and then as Walking and Front Gate Lieutenant, Night and Mobile Security in Oakland, San Francisco (Pier 45), and Novato until 1987; and in Agoura and Devore until 1994. Jim Hayes was my walking partner up north, and Michael C. taught me the art of “night walking”.  In summer 1987, I lived one mile off-site with Richard, Jason and Okai in a house in Novato while working on-site during the week as Mobile Security, as well as Days/Nights on weekends.

“Of course I remember you – we tore up your pass last week, right?”

The "EXEMPT" button. Only a few of us had them...

The “EXEMPT” button. Only a few of us had them..

“When you’re up, you’re up and when you’re down the security guard bites you.”

So, Where's Tabitha?

So, “Where’s Tabitha?”

“It’s love making fun.” – “Yes, Yes, No.” – “Forgive me Father, for I have funned.”

We all were temps…but I still prefer the term “Seasonal”. I did have the experience of going from an honorarium of a few food tickets per day (Scholarship at the College of Renaissance Delights) to being one of the highest paid regular hourly employees at LHC.

“My face is my pass.” – “Your face is not your pass.” – 

Chillin' "off the clock" in Napalm Springs, Devore 1989 (the day of Don Mills' Memorial) with Jenny, Janeen, Shannon and Shawn

Chillin’ “off the clock” in Napalm Springs, Devore 1989 (the day of Don Mills’ Memorial) with Jenny, Janeen, Shannon and Shawn

“I’m not real excited about being awake.”

Oh yeah, I still have my radio with a “Thys’ll Killya” sticker on it.

Thys'll Killya! And still set to Channel 19

Thys’ll Killya! And still set to Channel 19 (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

“It all started when he hit me back.”

I also still have my John Schulp’s knife, my Suzy Cooksey Hat O’Leather, one of Robert and Frannie’s Whales, my old CREW t-shirts, framed gate and camping passes, old costume pieces, weird props, psychedelic toys, miscellaneous paraphernalia, a collection of fine jewelry, and a box of buttons with funny slogans and catch phrases.

“I don’t care if you respect me in the morning.- But you will.”

And of course, I have the memory of the unique communal experience of road tripping north and south, camping on-site, sharing everything with others, workshops, privies, hay bales, ring-out, water trucks, earwigs, Faire boogers, pre-Faire build/post-Faire teardown, and the time spent in-between waiting for workshops to start again.

“Drop back 400 years and punt.” – “Carry out your own dead.” – “Fairegate”

The Teahouse of the Mullah Nezzuradin's Donkey, Agoura 1984

The Teahouse of the Mullah Nezzuradin’s Donkey, Agoura 1984

“Eating and Drynking are the Three Best Thyngs.” – “Do the cocktail.”

I remember the smells and tastes of coffee, chai and baklava at Don Brown’s; cinnamon buns in the morning, Stan’s turkey legs and beef ribs; Manny’s artichokes, churros and Monday brunch; Steak-on-a-Steak, Fish & Chips, Scarpone, Bangers, Piroshki, Toad-in-a-Hole, French Onion Soup, Fruit Ices, Tryfle, Strawberry Crepes, Truffles, and the rest of the unique Faire food (and the pleasure of knowing the people who cooked and served it). I can say for a fact that the Faire inspired the love I have for great food today.

“I’m Mad over Madalyn’s!” – “Consuming Passions – Born to Ball, Live to Dip!” 

“No Blood, No Foul.” – “Where’s my booth?” – “Cruel & Unusual”

I also remember the taste of Faire dust, stale metallic water and fire retardant. And the smell of fresh pumped privies, bodice sweat mixed with essential oils; the Horse Tourney, wet earth, hay and burlap; melting ice, warm ale, apple cider, and watered down lemonade; dill pickles, green grass, blooming mustard and warm oak trees!

“No good deed goes unpunished.” – “As long as you’re having a good time.”

Marc Harris' pic of Dickens' Fair at the Fox Theater, Oakland 1984 The Fezziweg's Dance Party on stage taken from the first balcony.

Marc Harris’ pic of Dickens’ Fair at the Fox Theater, Oakland 1984
The Fezziweg’s Dance Party on stage taken from the first balcony.

“Is the screwin’ you’re getting’ worth the screwin’ you’re getting’?”

I’ve met and have the memory of amazing and talented artistic people who were entertainers, performers, designers, builders, artists and makers of fine clothing, arts and crafts. I worked for little pay alongside a crazy dedicated CREW of unique and eclectic characters. I enjoyed the fun of storytelling, night shows, Ale Stand parties, and “after-hours” activities! I’ve had Faire romances, and had my heart broken many times.

Ale King Parade - Agoura 1987

Ale King Parade – Agoura 1987 (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

I’ve experienced a “Carbon Condition”, a radio gone “D-Watt”, and a “Safety Meeting” (all more than once, LOL). I searched for Tabitha, and celebrated at the Hedonist’s Picnic. I know what “Bubba Bud” and “The Spam Feed” are all about. I saw a ghost at the Fox Theatre, was on the lot when the Water Truck crashed down Gray Barn Hill (“Roll Over & Play Ed”) and was there when Six-Pack fell in the mud (and got a new nickname), and I’ve even seen real Orange Sunshine!

“I don’t want everything, I just want more.” – “I used to be special but then I grew up.”

Jenny's pic of the Paramount Ranch at Night

Jenny’s pic of the Paramount Ranch and Fairesite at Night from Procession Hill

“Insanely Zealous.” – “A filthy mind is a terrible thing to waste.” – “No, me first.”

The Faire also instilled in me a deep love and appreciation for Theatre (stage, street, improvisational and guerrilla), Shakespeare, free thought, questioning authority, alternative lifestyles and religions, holistic medicine and massage, ribald humor, healthy sex, strange and unusual people, historical reenactment, living history, juggling, and English history, music, and dance (although I don’t juggle, play music or dance, and I still tell people I don’t know how to sew…LMAO.)

“We’re laughing’ now, mate.” – “Don’t forget, I love ya.” – “One Boss Potato”

I’m sure there’s a lot I can’t or don’t want to remember, and there are things I’ve seen that I’ll never forget. It’s all living as history now in my head. When my family broke up in the 80s, my close friends at Faire became my surrogate family.

Paramount Ranch - Agoura, CA (copyright 201 JoshWillTravel)

Paramount Ranch – Agoura, CA (copyright 201 JoshWillTravel)

“Why yes, I am a rocket scientist.” – “The Pros of Con” – “One Boss Tomato”

I earned a B.A. in Theatre Arts in 1987 with an emphasis on Design/Tech and Film from the University of California, Santa Cruz (and I also worked for UC Performing Arts while I was a student).  My first film job in Hollywood (after working as a Production Assistant on a few PSAs, music videos and commercials) was as a Men’s Costumer and Wardrobe Assistant. After twelve years in production, and ten years as a Talent Manager, I left the entertainment business in 2007, returned for a short time in 2009, and left again in 2010.

“That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.” – “Are we having fun yet?” (Zippy the Pinhead)

Paramount Ranch - Agoura, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Paramount Ranch – Agoura, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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The truth is that I did not know Phyllis well. My direct contact with her was very limited. I was frequently in her proximity while backstage or in the Costume trailer. I knew her a little and knew ‘of her’ a lot, and I know she knew me. Because my circle of friends overlapped Staff, CREW, actors and Security, I heard most of the stories, gossip and speculations from different points of view, but avoided the politics and in-house drama as much as possible.

Phyllis Patterson RIP

Phyllis Patterson RIP

I knew Kevin, Leslie, Robyn and Brian, but always maintained a little distance, because they were “the Owners” and I was their employee. My deepest condolences go out to all of them and the rest of Phyllis’ family….and her friends, and her extended Faire family as well. We are all connected through our shared experience!

Red Barn & Cardiac Hill - Blackpoint Forest, Novato

Red Barn & Cardiac Hill – Blackpoint Forest, Novato

If you’ve read all the way through this blog, the impact of Phyllis Patterson and her Faire on my life and the lives of others is pretty clear. Phyllis touched many peoples’ lives, both directly through the LHC and indirectly through her little idea of a Renaissance Faire, which has spread across the country, throughout the world, and has become indelibly embedded in our history, philosophy and culture!

“Who’s Phyllis?”

Phyllis Patterson RIP (photo and costume by Vicky Nebeker)

Phyllis Patterson RIP (photo and costume by Vicky Nebeker)

Rest in Peace Phyllis Patterson and thanks for the friends, the experiences, the memories, the rewards, and the super fun party!

HUZZAH! FARE YOU WELL! MAY THE FOUR WINDS BLOW YOU SAFELY HOME!

Paramount Ranch, Agoura, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Paramount Ranch, Agoura, CA – Spring 2013 (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

JoshWillTravel is a “Charter member of St. Silas’ Guild”, a alumni of “Doctor D’s Traveling Medicine Show”, and also a member of the Loyal Order of Turtles, Mr. Pickwick’s Box Seats and the Golden Grommet Guild. “There are no martyrs, only saints…”

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21 thoughts on “Phyllis Patterson RIP – She changed my life!

  1. THIS. So very many memories brought back all at once. I went from boothie flower girl to Performing Arts Department and everything you wrote here resonated. I miss Phyllis, but truth be told, I’ve missed her for a very long time. Tears.

  2. “A woman passed away on May 18th, 2014. Her name is PHYLLIS PATTERSON. She is the creator of the RENAISSANCE FAIRE THEME I love so much and where I grew as an artist and free spirit. Please let those who revel in her legacy, learn her name. She is our Walt Disney. She gave us our happy place. ” ~ Christine

  3. “Phyllis Patterson passed away this morning. Most people I know now have no idea who that is. I doubt she ever knew my name but the combined vision of Phyllis and Ron Patterson (and a cast of, literally, thousands) were the heart and soul of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. She was the mother of the circus I ran away from home to join.
    I am more grateful that I can put into words for all of the memories and all of the wonderful people I met because of her. I wish her and her family peace. Hugs to everyone who reads this and knows what I’m talking about. We were a fortunate, lunatic, bunch.” – Gwen C.

  4. “I need to interrupt this stream of fun and exciting posts from our ride today to pass along some very sad news. Phyllis Patterson, the grand lady who, along with her husband Ron, started the Renaissance Pleasure Faire some 40 years ago, passed away today in her home in Novato, CA. I started “working” the Renaissance Faire(s) at the tender age of 19 at southern Faire in Agoura, CA and essentially spent the rest of my life there. Other than my mother, Phyllis has had the biggest impact on my life. I know it sounds kinda crazy but I met my wife there, I raised my family there and made some of the strongest friendships possible there. All of this was only possible because of the amazing dreams of Phyllis Patterson. We made magic happen on a daily basis. We brought the Elizabethan Renaissance to life and spawned hundreds of other ren fairs across the country. I worked Faire in LA and SF every year from 1979 – 1992 as an actor part of the crew. I still visit many of the follow on Faires (Gilroy especially) and still work the Dickens Christmas Fair (also a Phyllis creation). She was my friend and will be missed beyond words. We have lost a Great One. When her memorial service takes shape, a gathering of the tribes will occur on a scale few have seen for such a relatively unknown and simple lady. She touch literally ten’s of thousands of lives through the faires and the incarnation of her dreams. Gods speed Phyllis, your faire family awaits you at SkyFaire with open arms. Be at peace.” ~ Doug J.

  5. From Brien Patterson: (via Grieg)
    The woman who taught me how tremendous and magnificent a woman (or human) can be.. Has passed this morning. Free of her body. Expressing herself no doubt.. On a blessed course to Sky Faire! Mom’s come Home. I Love you everyone.

  6. “Japanese culture has as expression, Giri. It means a debt that cannot be paid, an obligation. That is what I feel about Phyllis and Ron. I didn’t know either personally, yet they bestowed the gift of that place in that time which forever altered my life. RIP to both!” ~ Rounce R.H.

  7. Thank you for the memories long tucked away…a wonderful remembrance of a time and place that seems like yesterday and so long ago at the same time. Phyllis made my dreams into reality by giving me and so many others a place to grow as craftspeople and to sell our work.
    Phyllis and I shared a tear over an oak tree ring I gifted her, as we knew the Agoura site was to be no more… SHER

  8. “Just had to say……”Can you imagine the revelry on the other side that was waiting to greet & welcome Phyllis as she crossed! Pipers playing, singing, dancing & am sure our beloved Mullah Don Brown to present her with a cup of Turkish Coffee or Chai in hand. A huge celebration of her life simultaneously on both sides” !!!!! Mish Mish” – Pamela S-J.

  9. “Today a special someone has passed away. The mother to all of us who called The Faire home. Her vision, hard work and dreams created the playground where so many of us lived and loved. We send thy spirit skyward to the welcoming gates of Skyfaire. Thank you Phyllis for the pleasure.
    “As the day must die like a rose, the Faire must come to a close. As the sun deserts the sky, we bid you good people goodbye”. Goodbye.” ~James S.

  10. From Kevin Patterson (via Dario on 5-21-14)
    “We are saying our goodbyes to Phyllis this morning. The Patterson’s and Stimberts-all, wish to thank you for your many many expressions of love. Please know how much they have been deeply felt by her, and by us, these past few days. At times I felt like I was floating on a river of love. Imagine what she felt. We want to share with you, her Faire family, that her peaceful body, laid in a beautiful wicker casket decorated with a large Rosie garland of redwood, bay, oak, and roses, an Arlecchino mask laid at her feet, will be carried from her home by her son’s, grandson Michael, brother Vaughn, and caregiver Todd. The hearse, a white Caddy, will be driven by a woman, our Sister Heidi Boucher who has also helped us surround her with the symbols of an amazing life of nature, art and love. I know this is quite personal, but sharing it with you is important. We are all her parade. Meet you on Procession Hill. We step off at noon.”

  11. Hey! That’s me up there (Gwen)! I just finished reading your post and was thinking of what to write in reply when I saw that you reposted my own, small, memorial effort. I’m sure our paths crossed (cursed my rotten and uneven memory), I worked crew in 1983 and also worked with Cuthbert, Minerva, Swithin’s and St. Electus (and worked Dickens and Old Cal). Thank you for sharing all of your memories here, Josh.

  12. “Dear Fools, for those who have not heard, our Faire Mother Phyllis Patterson passed through the curtain to Skyfaire today. Phyllis and her husband Ron co-created the first ever Renaissance Pleasure Faire, in Laurel Canyon in the early 60s. It soon moved out to Paramount Ranch in Agoura, and it was there in Agoura where the Fools and later their Guild were born. We are an offshoot of the faire family, and our larger family lost its matriarch today, after a long illness. R.I.P. Phyllis Patterson. She is survived by sons Kevin and Brian; Kevin’s family Leslie, Andrew and Michael; and legions of good folk who were forever changed by what the Pattersons created. Including us, the Fools’ Guild, but one twisted, harlequined, bell-bedecked branch of a large and growing family tree. Thank you Phyllis for creating our world.” ~ Paula C.

  13. Buck&Mug: How do you feel about the Faire now?

    Bob Thomas: It is like one viewing an old girlfriend who one still loves very dearly, but due to the rocks and shoals of life, you have separated. There you are, standing, and you look at her. She’s beautiful and she’s alluring, but there’s no way to get it together again. Do I have any regrets? Yes, in the words of Alexander King, “I should have kissed her more.”

  14. Thanks for the shot of the camping. My tent is center left, open front and full off people. Shelley and I sewed the tent and graded the site to fit it. Great times.

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