Friday, 28 April 2017 14:53

The Wedding at Three Cities of Spain

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In the 1960s, my favorite hangout and date place was a coffee shop on Canyon Road called The Three Cities of Spain.  It was owned by Bob Garrison and Dave Munn, and they presented an ecletic mix of entertainment, the likes of which Santa Fe hasn't seen since they closed in the 1970s.  It was there that I first saw the movies of W.C. Fields, Busby Berkeley, Buster Keaton, and all of the great films of the 1930s and 1940s.  They also presented a steady stream of folk musicians like Ian and Sylvia, The Dillards, Spider John Koerner, Dave "Snaker" Ray, and Tony "Little Sun" Glover, Utah Phillips, and Ramblin' Jack Elliot.  An enormous Italian espresso machine dominated the east wall and they served various pastries, a world-famous cheesecake, and coffees.  The room was about 20 by 50 feet, held about 20 tables, and every seat was fantastic.  I never missed a show and got to know the musicians pretty well, as they played there more than once.  I was playing guitar and singing then and I learned quite a few songs by watching them.

This story is about the most memorable night I spent there.  It was New Years Eve, 1965, and the artists were a young folksinger from Portales named Gary (I forget his last name,) and Ramblin' Jack Elliot.  Although they had no liquor license, Bob and Dave turned a blind eye toward patrons bringing in their own liquor.  Even me and my date, although I was 20 and she was 18.  Jack played 2 sets that night and by 12:30 in the morning almost everyone had left.  Remaining were Dave and Bob, me and my date, Gary and his date, Jack, and a Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court.  We were all quite drunk and Gary kept kissing and cuddling his date.  We were teasing them that, since they felt so strongly about one another, they should get married.  Suddenly, Gary got down on one knee and proposed.  She accepted.  We discussed what to do next, when the Supreme Court Justice said that he would marry them right then and there.  I found a napkin and a pen, drew up a primitive wedding license, and had them sign it, with Jack and me as witnesses.  (Did I mention that we were drunk?)  Then, with Jack playing The Wedding March on his guitar, the Justice (who almost fell down several times during the ceremony) had them recite their vows and pronounced them man and wife.  Suddenly, Gary sobered up and asked if this whole thing was really legal.  He was quite worried.  The Justice assured him that it wasn't, but I've spent the last 50 years wondering.

--Mike Lord
 

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