Today is Puck's birthday. It was because of her that I live in my spacious present apartment - a seven room flat I occupy with a good friend, one dog... and lots of rugs, antiques and books.
Carol Rineheimer was an only child whose older parents belonged to my father's church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Her father was president of Pennsylvania Blue Shield. Carol and I went to kindergarten together at the Catherine Sweeney Day School and were in MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) through junior high. Then I went away to boarding school at The Mercersburg Academy and she, to high School on the Camp Hill side of the river. After that I really wasn't in touch with her for several years.
While I was in New Haven, Carol went to art school at RISD, Rhode Island School of Design, but transferred to the Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, because her parents wanted to break up what they thought was a bad relationship. It didn't work. He just followed her to Kansas City. It was there that Carol adopted the name 'Puck' from Midsummer's Night Dream.
In the winter of 1972/73 I lived at home in Harrisburg to help my parents get resettled after Hurricane Agnes, but was planning to move to San Francisco in the Spring. Puck was living in the avenues with a med student at UCSF. When she heard from her parents that I was moving to San Francsico, she offered to find a place to live together. She had just broken up with her boyfriend. I agreed and asked only for two things, a bay window in which I could put a baby grand piano, and a place that would allow dogs. My Dad was lending me his cocker spaniel EZ Dandy for the trip. (That's a separate story sometime.) So I've never had to look for an apartment in San Francisco. Puck found the place on 23rd Street. Then she was back East and gave me keys to the place before I even left. I was a renter as of May 1st, but didn't move in until Memorial day weekend 1973.
Puck lived here through Thanksgiving, then moved to Marin. She met her future husband Greg Erikson while living here. Puck asked me to play my 'cello at her wedding on the patio at her future in-laws' horse ranch in Solvang, a cutsey Danish community near Santa Barbara. (Dennis once rode his bianchi bike in the Solvang Century.)
Puck wanted me to play Pavane for a Dead Princess by Maurice Ravel. It really means dance in an antique style, rather than something funereal. Still it is rather subtle. I didn't want to play it as 'cello solo, so I asked a flautist friend, Dennis Parlotto, from Grace Cathedral choir to join me.
We drove down together, then afterwards he dropped me off in Long Beach by the Queen Mary to meet somebody I had met on a weekend in San Francisco.
I clearly remember a conversation I had with Dennis Parlotto in Huntington Park between services, more than thirty-five years ago. I forget how we got on to it-- probably a discussion of my traumatic past-- but Dennis said he concluded that sexual orientation was more nature than nurture. His reasoning: he was from a family with a dominant, over-bearing mother and absent father; he was a tenor, a flute player, a ballet dancer, and had a lot of gay friends. By all rights, he felt he should be gay. Yet he was completely straight. Dennis had married and was divorced, and had a young child, whom he adored. He later moved to New York to dance professionally.
Puck-- probably Carol again-- got divorced herself. She had a beautiful baby girl, Jennifer, who's probably in her thirties now. She looked like a Gerber baby. I remember how Puck said she felt sorry for Jennifer. She would never have to develop her personality as did her mother. I've completely lost touch with them. This post may encourage me to try to reestablish communication. In any case, Happy Birthday to Puck!!