Author: Rhynes, J.D.

My friend Larry Lynch, Champion Irish and Country Dancer/Teacher

Back in October of 1979 on Columbus Day Weekend, I went with The Vern Williams Band, to perform at a Bluegrass Festival, that the National Park Service put on at Fort Baker/Cronkite, in Marin County for a few years. Fort Baker/Cronkite is just inside the Marin County line, jes West of the Golden Gate Bridge, and as the name implies, it is two Army Forts that has been taken over by the National Park Service, and is used for many differrent events, Bluegrass festival's used to be one of them. After checking in, and getting our band credentials, we were ushered into one of the old Barracks that was to be our 'lil home away from home fer the next 3 days and nites. Inside every room, were three sets of bunk beds, and along with our band, there was one of the staff staying in the room with us. A gentleman whose name I cant recall, lo these 30 years later. We checked in on a Friday afternoon, and our first set was aroud noon on Saturday. Immeadiately on before us was an Irish Counry band, who featured the Irish Country dancing of one Larry Lynch, dancer extraordinaire/ dance instructor. I was watching the band perform, and then Larry came on and really lit up the stage with his intricate dance steps, high whirling leaps, etc. I called to the rest of the band to come watch this guy dance! He literally brought down the house with his fantastic performance! The whole band congratulated him on a stellar performance, and we asked him to stick around to watch our set. He asked what kind of music we played, and when Vern told him it was Bluegrass, he kind of looked at him with that "Deer in the headlites look", so I told him that it was "real country music", in overdrive. He agreed to stay and listen, and when we came off stage, he was hooked on the music fer life! As we were onstage, I could see him off to the side dancing up a storm. To say that Larry lynch liked bluegrass music would be the understatement of all time. Soooo, as my old pal Ron Thomason is wont to say; Told ya that, so's I can tell ya this! Fast forward about 5 years, and lo and behold we all get an invitation to attend Larry's wedding in San Francisco, to his lovely fiance, Shaina, and will we PLEASE bring our instruments and be one of the bands to play at their wedding reception? You bet, Vern said! So, come the wedding day, we all piled into my '73 Coupe de Ville and headed over th San Francisco to a LONG day of 'pickin, eating, drinking, and dancing! What a day it was! Well, none of the band had ever been to a traditional Irish wedding, so the way they did things was completely different than we were used to. The most different thing to us was that the Bride and Groom set at the REAR of the room, instead of up front. Their honored guest's set at the head table, and everyone gets to get up and say a few words about the newlyweds, wish them luck, etc., etc. Wellll, 'ol Larry was in the habit of telling everybody that Vern and I subsisted on good 'ol fashioned Bull S - - - , and not to believe a word we said, lovingly of course. Vern kept telling him that he was digging a hole he wasn't gonna be able to climb out of when I got through gettin' even with him fer us. Little did he know that his wedding day was the day! Prior to the wedding day, I mulled over what kind of gift to get them, and I was at a logjam, so to speak. Knowing the Irish temper [ I am half Irish] a set of dishes was out of the question, [ they break when thrown] silverware too was too dangerous a gift [ ididn't want to be responsile fer a murder] so finally I hit on the perfect gift! I would compose a poem of how we all met, and recite it fer them at the wedding, and then give them the printed copy. PERFECT! Well, as the reception commenced, we were seated at the table jes in front of Larry and Shaina, and Larry's cousin, Chico was the Master of Ceremonies. Chico called on numerous family and friends to speak, and finally he asked if there was anyone else that had anything they wanted to say? Thats when Vern sez to me; Sic'em J.D.! SOoo, I jumped up waving my arms, yelling, Chico, me, me ,me , me! AHH, sez Chico! J.D., come on up! When I stood up and looked at Larry and Shaina, he turned pale as a sheeet, and Shaina, hissed at me, you better keep it clean! MY MOTHER IS HERE FROM IRELAND! I gave 'em a sneering smile, and purposely walked real slow to the podium, while drawing the envelope with the poem inside from my breast pocket of my suit. After introducing my self to the 500 or so guests present, I explained why I chose to write them a poem as a wedding present, namely they couldn't break it in a quarrel. It was a huge hit with all present, and needless to say, Larry and Shaina were quite happy with the results. Soo, with out further ado here is the poem in all of it's fun filled glory. I named it;

A Toast to Queen Isabella
Heres to isabella, Queen of old Spain,
Gave Columbus her jewels to sai the bounding main.
He manned his three ships, and sailed on his way,
So that in the month of October we could celebrate Columbus day!

You may say; Why a toast to Queen Isabella,
When we're gathered here to honor this lovely lass, and this
handsome Irish fella.
Well, were it not fer old Chris, and his holiday so fine,
We would not have met you Larry, in 1979!

For three days at Fort Baker we entertained the masses,
We played, and you danced, for the laddies and the lass'es!
And the late night jam sessions, what fine memories to recall,
For our friendship was kindled on that Holiday, that fall.

Well my friend, upon the sea of matrimony, this day you did embark,
With your lovely lass Shaina, why she's as pretty as a Lark!
Here's a recipe my dear that'll win his heart,[it's a favorite of
his daddy's]
It can be fixed in a trice, you dont even need ice, just a glass,
and a bottle of Paddy's!

So you see my friends why I toast today that little Spanish girl,
Who gave Chris the means to put Bucks in his Jeans, to find what he
called the New World.
For no matter the season, without a good reason,
At Fort Baker we would not have been.
And without a Fort Baker, I might've been a Quaker,
And I would've never met you my friend.

J.D.Rhynes May God always grant you peace and health

Oh what good memories of a glorius time long gone, never to be had by all of us again. BUT, when I get over to the "other camp", as my cherokee ancestors would say, I know that we aint seen nuthin' that's gonna compare it to here on Earth. Walk slow fella's, and pretty soon I'll catch up with you!

Posted:  9/24/2009

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