BALLAD OF LASLEY, THE WRITERS, AND THE PASSION FOR HEARTS
(Apologies to Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin, Robert Penn Warren, Robert Johnson, Robert Earl Keen, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Bobby Zimmerman, and the Boss)
Call her Ishmael, the traveler not the wanderer. The child of the BOOM escapes from Jersey (allegedly the “New” one) but never with “a damp, drizzly November” in her soul, always on the road to a better land never forgetting the burden of time and place.
At last, the CROSSROADS, otherwise known as Duke—Jersey meets the arsenical green of tobacco. What deal does one make when the Devil is dressed in blue?
Introductions come first.
Says the Dark One: “Betty Crocker, meet Betty Friedan and liberation!”
“What will this cost? Will I have to open a vein and pour my blood out onto the page?
“NO! Too purple!
“Nay, would be too little.”
“Then, what? My children?”
“Ah, the children, yes. You shall have not three, but multitudes, AND you will never cease to walk the road with them!”
“Do not ask, you will know it when you find it.”
“Where does it lead?”
“It goes on forever, BUT your party will never end.”
CROSSROADS again, further South (of course). Mephistopheles appears in green. Choices are made and awakenings reveal the truth even if told slant. Her children are indeed a multitude. Betty Crocker is fading as Lasley realizes that she “contradicts herself and contains multitudes”. Twenty years of bringing the heat and light of her passion for the words, the thoughts, and the feelings that define joy, hope, and love through the lines of Walt, Emily, and Kate. Reminding her ever-expanding brood that learning without passion is a stillborn creature, and she will have no such thing in her extended family. She sees no heart, young or old, that cannot escape the winter of a Blue Hotel. The journey has been long but “up ahead in the distance….”
CROSSROADS again, time to reflect. What road has the Queen of Hearts been traveling? Highway 61: the path from New Orleans to Memphis, to Chicago, to Jerusalem and back to Asbury Park always carrying and caring for the hearts and souls of her students. “You’ve come far pilgrim.” Like the Rachel, you have always searched for another orphaned learner. Your colleagues and your students have been blessed to journey with you. After 57 years of going to school only three of my English teachers have influenced me in a significant fashion. You Lasley Gober are one of the few. As we see you take a turn in the road, the great bluesman Elmore James said it best, “The Sky Is Cryin’”