The Spinners

Posted on Sunday, June 12th, 2011 in Photos

The Spinners

“The Spinners,” Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jan. 1, 1970. From left, Easy Gravy, Michael Wallis, Louis De Carlo, Suzanne Fitzgerald, James Fitzgerald (kneeling), Proud Mary Wall, Ed from the East, Soapy Foster.

On the very first day of 1970, we climbed into a battered red Chevy pickup truck in Santa Fe, and struck out for Taos. Joining us was our brother Jimmy, between boot camp and Vietnam, along with a band of creative co-conspirators – Proud Mary, Louie, Easy Gravy, Soapy, Ed from the East, and the pickup’s owner, Matt, who during the years of the Vietnam draft lived by the alias of T.K. Flannigan. Filled with much of the spirit that drove Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, we dubbed ourselves the Spinners.

As gypsy-footed as our name and spontaneous as our freshly-drafted New Year’s resolutions, we made the decision to leave in a heartbeat. Some of us wore remnants of our old army and Marine uniforms, others were clad in vintage cloaks and plumed hats and an assortment of colorful caps, mittens, and costumes. Between us we had a few dollars, a couple of old blankets, a bit of rum, and a lot of hope. A tarot card – The Fool – dangled from the rearview mirror.

It was bitterly cold and snow covered the ground. In deference to the low temperature that hovered in the teens, we didn’t take the preferred High Road to Taos that winds through a string of mountain villages. Instead, we chose the more direct route on the highway that slices through canyons and rock walls flanking the icy Rio Grande.

We were on a quest, hoping to find a woman we had heard and read about. We believed she could help us understand all we would need to know in order to start a renaissance. We were young and filled with optimism. No challenge seemed too great – not a seventy-five-mile ride on a frigid winter’s day in the back of a pickup, not the ordeal of securing shelter for the night, and not even the rather lofty notion that the Spinners could actually launch a major cultural movement.