The Gray Rabbit

This is a quick overview.
The contributions are broken down by year listed below.

Please feel free to send in anything, I’ll be happy to post it. Occasionally people have asked to used pieces from this blog for other articles and documentaries. At first I contacted the contributor and asked for permission. This is becoming burdensome, if you don’t want what you send repurposed, please tell me and I won’t post it. Anything on this site is free for anyone to use- if you posted earlier and are uncomfortable with someone using your material please write me and I’ll pull it down. Any suggestions as to content, style, or format would be appreciated.

There’s a very informative article on ‘the grey rabbit’ to be found on Wikipedia. We spelt it both ways back in the day. When it went legal right toward the end it was listed only as ‘grey’.

James

James Spach and Richard Cook Washington Square 1976

James Spach and Richard Cook
Washington Square 1976

This blog is a place to assemble memories and try to contact other people involved as drivers or passengers on the gray rabbit. I was a driver on various buses from 1975 to 1978. I drove with Lester, Peter, Richard (Cookie), Jody, Miles – everybody that was involved at that time. Joe and Rene ran the ride center in Berkeley- Shep the ride center in New York. I found the warehouse Lester bought to garage the busses down in Hunter’s Point.  The buses in the picture below belonged to Lester, Peter and Richard.

Interior of Hunter's point warehouse- busses belonged to Richard, Lester and Peter

 

My name is James Spach- but back then people called me ‘JD’ or ‘Spock’ – the proper pronunciation of my name.

James waking up

James waking up

A couple of thoughts about this post.  I don’t want this blog to be about me or my memories and experiences, but everyone’s. It would be great to find peoples’ posts from the same trip. Also please leave your full name and perhaps the time period – if you can remember- that you either rode on or drove the bus. As you can see, I’m just putting up disjointed memories to start things rolling. If you have a quibble about the veracity of a post remember that it was 30 or more years ago and we were all living in some state of befuddlement in those days.

A very great girl w/ a dragon tatoo Nevada
A very great girl w/ a dragon tattoo (really)  crossing Nevada

If you have pictures or longer comments that you want to send I can be reached at dspost@sbcglobal.net Please don’t send anything that you don’t want reused in a larger project. I’m new to this, so apologies in advance for any mistakes I make.

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about what I’ve been up to for the last 37 years. You can look me up on LinkedIn. I’m still working as a film editor at Warner Brothers

. I may live on until I long for this time in which I am so unhappy and remember it fondly -From the Japanese translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Scan 

On hearing Richard Cook had died-

Last I saw Richard was in 1977 at his place just outside of Santa Rosa. We were friends for a long time but had a falling out over a stolen Volvo. I didn’t drive for Richard, I drove with him on Lester Rall’s buses. We went to his place in Maine a couple of times before it burned down- met his pig ‘Hamsteak’ On our first cross-country trip from SF to NYC we dropped all the passengers and decided to light out for Maine- we had a major breakdown and ended up sitting in the South Bronx -right across from Yankee Stadium- for 2 days until we could get parts. Limped back home and Peerless Oakland rebuilt the engine. We had some amazing adventures. About 8months after our first trip Richard used the insurance money from the loss of his house to buy his own bus- he brought a few friends down from Maine and they moved into the warehouse in Hunter’s Point. Richard and Reeny (?) stayed in a studio apartment on the GG park panhandle, and we also kept one or two buses parked up there. One of his friends, Peter Frantz, bought his own bus and we made many trips together. After Richard’s bus was torched in Jamaica Bay. He and I made one last trip together in Peter’s bus. One of our passengers lost it and we had to pull him stark naked out of a freezing river in Miami, OK. When the split happened between Richard and Lester I drove for both the guys from Maine, excepting Richard, as well as Jody, John Durham, Miles and sometimes w/ Lester – most of the time w/ Peter. I never owned a bus outright, but loaned Peter $3000 to rebuild his. He paid me back and I used that and the money I’d earned driving to move to Europe and go to grad school. Peter Frantz is the CEO of Maine Entertainment. John Durham is working as a trucker in Portland.

I’ve added snippets from songs we played while traveling. Always in italics.

James and Peter
James and Peter

Lately it occurres to me 
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
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1983

Marc Daquila 

I drove the Grey Rabbit for the four years while attending chiropractic school in portland OR (79-83). Every friday afternoon a driver would come down from seattle and a group of 20 or so people would be gathered around the ride center chick (my gf meg) who put posters up around town and took calls. We’d all hop on, wave goodbye to meg and pick up more folks in Eugene. Soon we’ld stop for a soak in a huge hot springs in the national forest and arrive in Bezerkly then SF at the haight before noon. The return trip included a swim in shasta lake getting me to ptld before, usually, my first class. This run was a natural follow on from the early days where Lester, a very cool but sometimes misunderstood fellow started it all by bringing the east coasters out west to begin with in school buses and later retired LA diesel 4-speed coaches. There was also “another grey rabbit” and the green tortoise, still operating (legitimately) today. If stopped we were just a bunch of friends camping, although I did spend a night in jail in Eugene once. There were so many experiences we all had in those days that I can only recount a few. For thanksgiving we has 2 buses going south to san fran and mine (my favorite mission trails) conked out and we had to put all 87 people and all their luggage in Don’s bus for the final 4 hours. I ended up succeeding in bleeding the air out of the fuel line and ended up passing Don’s bus an hour from the finish line. Imagine an empty bus with all the curtains flapping in the wind with an open door cruising by in the pleasantly hot california sun. Don decided to just get there and not put our folks through any more roadside attractions. Another time Iwoke up (in the drivers bunk) in eastern OR, after driving most of the night on a x-country run. When I returned from the truck stop facilities the bus was gone heading east without me ( it was assumed that I was still crashed). I had to get a fast ride to overtake the bus and hopped on after flagging them down. This was all done without cell phones. Imagine making dropoffs at 15 different places and arranging to meet 2 weeks later without cell phones. I’m sure there are storiesof forgotten passengers but none of ours were nor were there any injuries. A good time was definitely had by all.

Julie Dolan

Rode the Grey Rabbit back from the West Coast to NYC late July 1983. Heading home after a backpacking trip up in the Canadian Rockies. A lively group of Rajneeshpurum folks were on the bus. I remember a young girl, Ayesha. She must be around 40 now.
We stopped at a hot springs and what I thought was called Voodyroos State Park, but can’t seem to find it on google. Great way to travel across the country. I’m sending a photo:

grey rabbit 1983

Mark Fisette 

I drove for Green Tortoise 1982-1985 “Cowboy” was my nick name great times, loved those days…..