As with Minneapolis, there were no hotel rooms to be had at a reasonable price in the DC area. (By this time, we had become white motel trash, addicted to the $79 or lower rate).
Fortunately, Larry’s old friends Alex and Max came to the rescue and offered to host us, despite the fact it was their anniversary. Readers, ask yourselves: how would you like to receive the Intrepid Travelers as your wedding present? Please don’t answer that question. Suffice it to say we doubly appreciated their hospitality their sense of humor, and their spot-on understanding of the importance of our quest.
Alex and Max are both big Dylan fans who have attended a number of Dylan concerts, including one last year. Larry and Alex have been discussing Dylan since about 1969 when they met in college, setting the psychology world on fire in their undergraduate class. Alex also considers himself a Dylanologist, and it wasn’t five minutes after we arrived that he was throwing in his two cents about the origin of Dylan’s genius. Equally important to his learned views was the fact that he had worked for many years with Dylan’s Hibbing born-and-bred first cousin. Naturally, Larry and Bill were focused on wheedling out of him her contact information. As a native New Yorker himself, he picked up on our little hustle immediately, but nonetheless forgave our pathetic efforts and promised to see what he could do. Long talks about Dylan and other catching up made it a memorable visit.
Morning found us boarding the Metro for a trip to the National Mall. We did a little sightseeing (well, very little…it was 105 degrees outside), but we focused like a laser on our mission for the day, which was to stand on the very spot Dylan and Baez occupied on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when they sang “When The Ship Comes In” and “Only A Pawn In Their Game” at the historic March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Standing on that spot, we looked out toward that vast expanse where 250,000 citizens once stood and listened to one of the greatest speeches ever given in this country. From there, we walked over to the new MLK memorial and were blown away by its power. Ditto in a very different way regarding the neighboring FDR memorial, which is spread out over 4 “courtyards,” one for each of his presidential terms. The portion that dealt with the Great Depression couldn’t help but remind us of Woody Guthrie’s great dustbowl ballads, which have always inspired us, much as they once did a kid in Hibbing, Minnesota.
We returned to Bethesda to retrieve our car and move on to New York where Dylan made his debut in January 1961. But that “closing of the circle” will come tomorrow. We still had one secret mission. We opened the sealed envelope and removed the instructions we had written to ourselves. Our orders were to proceed immediately to 4 North Calvert St. in Baltimore, where once stood the old stately Emerson Hotel (now demolished and replaced by the Sun Life Building). There one Hattie Carroll worked as a maid and “was slain by cane” thrown for no reason by one William Zantzinger. We came to honor and remember her, this woman who “gave birth to ten children” who “carried the dishes and took out the garbage/And never sat once at the head of the table.” We expressed ourselves in the style of the first movie about Dylan, “Don’t Look Back,” performing our own street theatre version of the opening scene. While examining the photos, hum “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.
Having accomplished our mission, we left Baltimore, two New Yorkers heading back to their hometown. For now, we weren’t looking back either. Greenwich Village, here we come!