Ozzie and Cherie would walk the few blocks over to the Boston Common for Ozzie to play some terrible music while Cherie “danced.” As soon as a small group of tourists formed, Ozzie would start his spiel asking for spare change to support their art. Being that Cherie could not dance, nor Ozzie Play guitar, it was the rudest form of chicanery. However, the lack of technique didn’t matter, and coins and bills fell into the tin cup. The tourists seemed keen to be clipped.
They would perform until the cops arrived, or they had enough money to support their daily laziness. They were like the lilies of the field ” they neither toil nor spin.” Ozzie and Cherie were our downstairs neighbors at Grove St; their act on the Common was just a whim- Mom and Dad were the actual support of these hippies come to Boston to live the “life.”
By contrast to Ozzie and Cherie, those of us who made up the Folkie Palace crew were super conservative go-getters. We worked, if intermittently. The rent had to be paid, laundry washed, and our excesses at the Harvard Gardens funded. Market finds in the Haymarket did not fill the pantry; we also had to shop. So we balanced time arguing philosophy, painting or writing with day labor, jobs in Boston’s financial district, or washing dishes at a restaurant.
We resented Ozzie and Cherie. They were part of the wave of Hippies that were swamping Boston and Cambridge. Well-to-do parents supported their Bohemian lifestyle, ours by hard work. It was a divide that was generational. But it was much harder on those who had an ideological stake in lifestyle choices.
Among the Beacon Hill Backsider’s ( the Hill area on which we resided) were many old-time lefties and communists. To them, Ozzie and Cherie represented a betrayal. To the rest of us, they were merely a nuisance.
It all came to a head one night when the recondite Marxist-Leninists of the first floor confronted Ozzie and Cherie of the second over the pile of dirty laundry left to stink on the second-floor landing. The counterargument seemed to revolve around the portrait of Lenin on their door. Cherie preferred Mao.
The argument devolved into what it actually about. The battle lines formed over: traditional Marxist-Leninist doctrine versus the little Red Book of Mao sported by Ozzie and Cherie.
As the argument grew heated, we, the politically non-aligned of the third floor, headed to the roof and used our handy plank to cross to a neighboring building. From there, we descended to Grove Street in time to watch the police pull up. Once there, we eagerly applauded Boston’s Finest as they attempted to moderate and then break up the dispute. For once, we were spectators and took the opportunity to wave to our “favorite cop” – Sargent Cappucci as he dodged a kick from an enraged Cherie. Eventually, peace returned. We watched as Cherie, Ozzie, and several CCCP members were hauled away.
Tomorrow we’d all get out trash bags and brooms to clean up the second floor. We also decided to remove the portraits of Mao and Lenin; we hung posters of Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs in their place.