Carolyn Adams GarciaPranktown Busriders
|b. May 6, 1946|
She was the daughter of a botanist mother and an entomologist father. As a teenager in Hyde Park, New York she had read and loved Jack Kerouac's novels and fashioned herself a "beatnik" wearing dark clothing. School was a problem. She kept looking out the window dreaming of something more interesting. She was independent and smart.
In the summer of 1963 she left her life in New York and rode to California with her brother. She was 17 and had $600 in her pocket. By the time Cassady spotted her she had already got and lost a job working in a science lab at Stanford University.
Cassady brought her to Ken Kesey's La Honda compound, home of the Merry Pranksters who has just returned from their now-famous bus trip across the United States. Here's how Tom Wolfe describes Carolyn Adams in the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
Mountain Girl was a big brunette with a black motorcycle, wearing a T-shirt and dungarees. She was only 18 but big, about five-foot-nine, and heavy; and loud and sloppy, as far as that went. But it was funny...she had beautiful teeth and a smile that lit up one's gizzard [...] Mountain Girl was a big hit with the Pranksters right from the start. She seemed always completely out front, without the slightest prompting. She was one big loud charge of vitality [...] She caught on to everything right away. She was decisive and had all the nerve in the world. Also she was getting more beautiful everyday.
Kesey and Carolyn had a romance and she was soon pregnant. In 1965 a daughter, Sunshine, was born.
In 1966 at one of the Acid Tests Carolyn met Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist of the Prankster's house band, the Grateful Dead. They fell in love and shortly afterwards Mountain Girl left La Honda and moved into the Grateful Dead's communal home at 710 Ashbury in San Francisco. Describing the moment that Carolyn and Jerry fell in love, Rock Scully, a former Dead associate writes,
There's Mountain Girl right up front boogying her ass off. She's an R. Crumb hippie-chick vision, swinging her bright orange bleached hair, her baby girl Sunshine, her kid with Kesey, bouncing in the basket on her back and just beaming at Jerry. She'd been with Kesey but she saw Jerry and she just fell hard!
Carolyn and Jerry had two daughters (Annabelle and Theresa) but the marriage began to falter in 1975 when Jerry left Carolyn to live in New York with Deborah Koons. Rock Skully observes that after the split Jerry "begins to lose his bearings."
For business and tax reasons Carolyn and Jerry were officially married on New Year's Eve 1981. In a personal divorce agreement made in 1993 which will later be contested by the Jerry Garcia Estate, Jerry agrees to give Carolyn $5 million dollars as a final monetary settlement to their relationship.
All the while Mountain Girl is surviving in and around the swirling Grateful Dead vortex and raising three daughters. Eventually she moves to Oregon and pursues a more agrarian lifestyle. On August 9, 1995 her ex-husband dies. At the time of his death Garcia was married to Deborah Koons. Koons did not feel that the agreement Jerry had made with Carolyn in 1993 was fair or valid and sought to discontinue the monthly payments. Carolyn took the matter to court. A trial was held in December 1996 and in April 1997 the judge ruled in favor of Mountain Girl.
Today she lives in Pleasant Hill, Oregon with her boyfriend Bill Burwell who is described as a "huge shambling, robust, ex-logger." The couple is surrounded by a multitude of animals.
What makes Carolyn Adams so special? Dennis McNally, former Grateful Dead flack man calls her "an authentic personality." Jon McIntire, manager of the Grateful Dead from 1968 to 1990 reflects that Mountain Girl is a
person possessed of spirit and weight, will and energy. She had the ability to meld her energy with the energy of others to do more than what one person could do by themselves...She had intelligence, joie de vivre and a directness that is really remarkable. And her beauty. She was amazingly beautiful.
And any person, man or woman, who intimately stimulated and inspired the likes of Ken Kesey and Jerry Garcia must also have a soul worth taking notice of.
Carolyn & Jerry Garcia, 1967
Official Cosmic Record
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