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Brunch Sampler: Annie Guyon

(Host) All this week we're sampling recorded excerpts from the latest VPR Commentator Brunch. This year, the theme was When World's Collide... which reminded commentator Annie Guyon of the time her father met some of her more colorful friends - at a party.

(Guyon) I'm Anne Guyon and this is Parental Love versus Life on Haight.

When I was in college, my Dad would sometimes take the train into the city so we could play tourist together.

Once, while strolling in Golden Gate Park he got to talking about childhood memories - village life in England, being a farmhand, living through WWII. We lost track of time so he missed his 6 o'clock return train and the next wasn't til eleven. I'd have driven him home but my roommates and I were having a housewarming party that night. When I explained this, he shrugged and said You've got yourself a diii-lemma. I'll just come along. No worries.

No worries! I was mortified at the thought! I hadn't told him I'd moved into a funky flat on Haight Street with five slightly bizarre people. One of them, known as Jinx, was a roadie for a local rock promoter, which meant the music would be ear-splitting and the guest-list colorful. But since I had a lot of friends coming, I felt obliged to be there.

So I took a deep breath - and took Dad to the party. Settling him at the kitchen table, I prepared to keep the Dead-heads, shaved heads and potheads away from him, especially Jinx, who was like a blathering blend of George Carlin, Keith Richards, and that Muppet with the wild hair.

After a while, though, I got distracted and was chatting in the living room when a friend came up and said Your dad is amazing... he even shut Jinx up!

I bolted into the kitchen imagining my father offended and stomping out. Instead, he was reminiscing, a Guinness in one hand, a chicken wing in the other, surrounded by half a dozen guys, who were completely transfixed - most of all, Jinx.

Dad was describing a day in 1940 in Ipswich when a Stuka diver bomber had made a direct hit on a shelter across the street. He told how it had killed everyone inside and slammed him against the building he'd been running past, on his rush to get to his family's shelter. kidding, said Jinx. My Dad leaned in and nodded gravely at him. That's right, he said.

For the next few hours, he recounted one story after another - some serious, some funny - giving his rapt young audience a bit of insight into what his world had been like, while being plied with food, drink and very polite questions. So rather than being put off by my modern, anti-establishment world, he'd found a place in it and was loving every minute.

Annie Guyon works in Development at Dartmouth College and occasionally writes as a freelancer for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe.
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