Frances letter to Steve, Kelly, and Karen

MacGregor & Gallopaway

October 19, 1985
Dear Steve, Kelly, and Karen,

I don’t feel like writing this letter, but I stamped and addressed 23 envelopes and they’re in my way. This truck is crowded, I mean STUFFED. All we need now is your dog, Karen. I’d kill myself. I almost do all the time anyway, bumps and bruises, because I go too fast in here. Even Timothy, though hardly, gets scrapes and scratches.

So that’s the exciting news. Band Aids for Bingo. Yes, dear friends, Bingo hid under the bed and he won’t come out. I guess he got tired of getting banged up, standing by the backdoor, shoved half-way into the closet right next to the toilet. Once he fell over pretty bad, but he still has his head. I swore at him a lotta times: he was one of the main sources of my cuts and bruises. Every time I’d sit down to go to the toilet (almost every time) he’d give me a cut or a bruise. He never picked on Timothy. And it was my idea in the first place to make him! So now he’s in the storage locker, inside his old green duffle bag. Bingo The Half Dead Robot. But believe it or not, he’s scheduled for brain surgery Christmas week. Address all inquiries to Bingo Gallopaway, P.O. Box 418, Soquel, CA 95073. “Jest in time” for the holidays.

Money goes too fast. How did we ever live on $400.00 month? And how are we gonna do it when we leave here? Hustle. Get out there on the street and get your place EARLY or someone else will. And even then, if you’re, say, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion? The regulars have their spots all reserved, it’s the street musician’s law, and maybe that’s a good thing. But it wasn’t for us. The first time we played at DCP, this real loud electric Dixieland band set up close enough so you couldn’t hear us; we could hardly hear ourselves. We left. We went back on a different day at a different time and they weren’t there. But neither were the people, the main attraction had been cancelled. We went back again. Made $2.75 and coffee and bagels free from the bagel man. He gave us some tips about where to stand and when to get there.

The night we left LA we made $25.00 there in a half hour, because we hit the right show. Plus those loud guys weren’t there. I wonder why? No, I’m wrong! The LAST time we played at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was an afternoon they cancelled the show again. And we had Bingo. He couldn’t do anything yet, except look cute. But we didn’t make a penny. Nothing. Not even the bagel man was there. Not even the janitor. Oh yes he was, he’s the one who told us there wasn’t going to be any show. 

We dragged all our stuff back to the car. It was hot, really hot. We weren’t even living in Los Angeles then, we were living in Randsburg, in the Mohave Desert. We drove down from Randsburg on our last eleven dollars to make a lot of money playing on the streets for the Olympic crowds, the Olympic hoards. But, “NO MUSIC ALLOWED.” Not in Hollywood, not in Westwood. “POLICE CLEAN UP STREETS FOR THE OLYMPICS.” It was in all the papers. So there we were. We had to leave Randsburg. Too hot. No money to go on with our work, no money for robot parts, no money even for a stupid typewriter ribbon. And it was 25 miles to the food stamp office. But we had enough money to get us to LA and we had a camera to hock. We got $25.00 for a $450.00 camera at a Hollywood hock shop, the same one on Santa Monica Blvd where we used to hock our stuff when we lived at the El Nico Hotel, my favorite place I ever lived: I wrote three songs there. I work better under pressure. There must be something wrong with me.

March 17, 1988 
Dear K and K (S disappeared but was seen last month on the streets of San Francisco.)

We’re still here. I’m still sitting in the very same seat in the very same parking lot, but things are not the same.  We are leaving this valley on or before May Day, shot back out into the cold cruel world of the unemployed, to live by our wits and to come back to life. Four years in Silicon Valley, four years in this truck, hiding from the police each night, it’s against the law to live in your truck on the street.  Soon we’ll be hiding out from the police in unfamiliar territory. THE SOUTH! NEW YORK CITY! WASHINGTON D.C.! THE OZARKS!!

We’re taking a trip all over the place, heading first to L.A., where we have been hired to play backup for a friend (with money). Then we head to New Mexico…bocce bocce… Eventually we will probably come home through THE NORTH, dropping down to Woodstock, Illinois, to drop some material in the lap of our great friend, Cecil O. Johnson, who did our play in Redding, remember? Now he’s doing the same trip in Woodstock IL.


Kelly, we got the beautiful brochure with your name glowing at us, that must have been a Christmas or two ago. Oh well.

I’ve finished a song: words and music. Timothy printed it out on the computer as a lead sheet. We have an Amiga 1000 with an extra megabyte of memory, that does amazing graphics! You will be amazed at this machine. Do you still have a yard for us to park in? Do you remember us?

Frances Gallopaway

P.S. from Tim (Timothy Tompkins-Flaherty-Boggs-Burditt-MacGregor)
What’s Steve’s mom’s address in Connecticut? She wrote us a frantic letter a couple weeks ago saying she hasn’t heard from him in over a year, and he’s usually such a good boy, but she’s afraid something terrible may have befallen him, and could we send her some reassurance? But she was so distraught that she forgot to include her return address!

We are very keyed up for the coming trip, counting the days (about 40) left to work in our respective factories  – electronic and mental.

Spring fever always has hit us pretty hard, but this year for a change we get to go with it. If we spend half a year on the road, we’ll be moving south along the Oregon coast sometime in the fall. Where, of course, you will be our primary stop.

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