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Here's PART TWO of

by Toby Thompson
(from _US_, a Bantam Book published October 1969)

Echo and I are enjoying our second Grain Belt Premium Beer in
Jolly Rodger Cafe, down at the east end of Howard Street.  Old
miners with Pow-r-House Blue Denim Engineer's caps, heavy olive-
drab jackets, and high top boots are drinking and talking in
hoarse roars.  The Wilburn Brothers pick a lively number from the
half-converted nickelodeon in the corner; there's a pool game
going on just this side of the bar; and the cussing of two old
timers at a back room card table periodically knifes through the

Echo tosses her long blonde hair, takes a bite from her hot dog
and a pull of her beer:  "Bob and I loved to eat hot dogs, not
like this one, ugh, but like we used to get out on the road to my
house.  At the A&W Rootbeer stand.  He'd always make me buy him
hot dogs.  With mustard and relish.  He'd say, 'Please Echo,
please, I'm STARVING' and we'd have to stop.  He never seemed to
have any money.  So *I* usually bought the hot dogs.  He'd give
me a bite.  It was the same thing the one or two times I saw him
in Minneapolis.  I can remember having to buy him turkey and
peanut butter sandwiches at the Scholar.  Oof! Didn't want a bit
of those!

"We'd pull into the Hibbing Rootbeer stand on Bob's motorcycle
when the weather was warm.  One time, just outside my house on
the old service road, he tried to teach me to ride it.  He told
me all about the controls, started it up and set me on board.
Only trouble was my feet weren't long enough to reach the ground.
But I didn't realize that until I'd already taken off.  I made
about twenty yards in first gear and thought I'd better practice
stopping before I went any further, so I tried to put on the
brakes; but something went wrong and the engine started revving
and I hit a post or a tree and went head over heels.  The
motorcycle fell over and the rear wheel went crazy with sparks
flying and gravel...Bob stood there with his mouth open and his
eyes real big, not believing it."

Up at the bar, an old fellow in a worn hunting vest and dayglo-
red deer cap suddenly explodes into a fit of the blackest rage,
damning and threatening some invisible foe directly to our left.
One or two of the old timer's barmates looked casually up,
returning quietly to their beers.  I can feel Echo move a little
closer beside me in our booth.

"That sort of thing used to happen all the TIME up here," Echo
shudders, her hand on my arm.  "These old miners, some of them
don't have much brains left.  I'd be so GLAD when Bob was there."


(in bold letters) "Well, this is 4th Street," Ellen Baker informs
me, as she shifts her big Citroen into the incoming turn.
"Whether or not this 4th Street is 'positively' the one, who can
say?  Everyone here in Dinkytown thought their main drag was the
one Bob sings about, though.  It makes sense.  Dinkytown is the
student neighborhood, where everyone Bob hung around with stayed:
the old folk people, the University crud.  The Scholar and
Bastille coffee houses were here too."

"What about drugs?  Any drugs when Bob was here?"

"Sure, there have always been drugs around.  But Bob never
indulged.  Not when I knew him.  Drugs were associated with hoods
in black leather jackets, who wore motorcycles and listened to
rock and roll.  The folk set wouldn't have anything to do with
that.  It just wasn't 'Dinkytown.'  I can remember Bob seeing
somebody he didn't know at a party or someplace, a girl usually,
and saying things like, "Never saw HER around Dinkytown before.'
That was the criterion.  Had to be from Dinkytown."

Ellen parks her car behind a variety shop, and we stroll out onto
4th Street, past student-quarter tobacco and leather shops, a
Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor, Gray's Drugstore, where Bob and
Ellen used to sip sodas.  The College Hotel, where Echo has told
me she spent a two-week post-graduate spree, and...a brand new
Burger Chef on the site of the old Ten-O-Clock Scholar, where Bob
gave his first coffee house performances.  Kids are hustling up
the street; there's music playing from a record store near a busy
railroad overpass, people are buying Burger Chef burgers by the
bagful, ice cream cones in the afternoon.  No sadness, no Hibbing
regrets; just cars and students and noise and not a harmonica in

We make our way back to Ellen's car, and swing out of the parking
lot towards the center of town.  We drive along in silence, past
fraternity houses alive with touch football, down streets
canopied with trees, finally pulling to the side of the road in
front of a shabby complex of light green houses.

"Now right there, 711 15th Street, that row house...Bob lived
there for a while with a couple of his friends.  Hugh Brown and a
terrible boy named Dirty Max.  Absolutely horrible.  I wouldn't
even go over there unless I had to.  But one day, for some reason
or another, I was waiting there for Bob, when Dirty Max screamed
down from the bathroom, 'Hey Ellen, come scrub my back.'  Well,
it wasn't every day a girl got to scrub a back like Dirty Max's,
so I went on up.  That was a real experience!  Bob and I just
howled...Dirty Max isn't in town any more.  Neither is Hugh
Brown.  I guess there aren't too many of us left."


Back on Howard Street, Echo does a suspicious looking hop, and
pulls me to a halt.  "Did I tell you about the song I wrote the
other day?  After you called and said you were coming back out to

"You sure didn't.  Let's hear it."

"Oh there's no music...except that I thought it could be played
like one of Bob's old talking blues."

"Recite it then, for godsake."

"Well, I was thinking maybe we could record it, you know, make a
tape and try to send it to Bob.  Just for a joke.  You play the
guitar, don't you?"

"Yep, and the harmonica.  Regular old Bobby Die-lan.  Got my
guitar in the car, as a matter of fact."

"Let's do it!"

So, I hike back to the car, pick up my instruments.  Echo turns
on her north country smile, and we con Joe Hyduke at Team
Electronics (one of Zimmerman's old competitors) into setting up
a miniature recording studio, four track stereo, monitors...right
there in front of the store.  Joe is incredulous!  Two blond
crazies, one playing this corny country guitar with a harmonica-
chunking along at the same time, and the other bouncing around
and warbling in a little-girl voice:

  First you come around
  with your singing and dancing
  wild hair waving, and fancy-pantsing,
  and you want to be seen!

  So the people came from miles around
  just to see you smile
  and laugh and frown,
  like a crazy clown,
  with your hair hanging down!

  Now you've left town.
  Don't want nobody hanging round.
  You wanna hide,
  won't go outside,
  don't go outside,
  don't make the scene,
  you don't wanna be seen.

  I think you're mean!

"That's great!  Bob would really get a kick out of that!"

"It's AMAZING how much you sound like him."


(bold letters) Barry Bershow is escorting Ellen Baker and me into
the new chapter house of Sigma Alpha Mu, the University of
Minnesota's fraternity where Bob lived for a quarter of his
freshman year.  "We can look in the old scrapbooks, 1959 and 60,
but I don't think we'll find much.  There are some pictures of
the old house, but none of Dylan.  He wasn't here long enough.
He left after a couple of months, quit his pledging.  Wanted to
be alone with his magic, I guess.  Folksingers don't seem to like
fraternity life a whole lot anyway."

"Tell him to call Lenny Levine," a voice bellows from upstairs,
"He pledged the same year as Dylan.  He'd know all about him."

Barry gives Ellen and me a half-disgusted shake of his head, and
continues to leaf through three huge scrapbooks.  There are
hundreds of pictures...of Polynesian weekends, homecoming floats,
the old house flooded for a party, with a waterfall roaring down
the stairs into a pond full of live turtles and fish...but not
even a pledge class shot of Bob.

"Tell him to call Lenny Levine.  Lenny the shit."

Barry snaps the last of the scrapbooks shut, apologizing for not
being more help.  I notice an ancient piano crowded into one
corner of Sigma Alpha Mu's sun porch, however, and ask if it is
the same one that was at the old house.

"It sure is," Barry answers, "I never even thought about that
before" as I'm shooing Brothers out of the way, checking the
light, and setting up a classic, moody photo.  One shot and my
shutter jams...Me cussing, Barry Bershow and the guys still
rapping..."That's gotta be the ugliest piano going, our you really think Dylan played it?"


After a thirty minute telephone conversation ("Why don't you
journalists stop TORTURING this boy") which makes me feel like
Lucifer sneaky and ground hog low, Bob Dylan's Mother has
consented to meet me for a mid-afternoon snack.  I'm to pick her
up at Feldman's Department Store, where she works irregularly as
a salesclerk.  I've deposited Echo at her parents' house a mile
or so from town, and the restless, hungry feeling gnawing my
novice reporter's insides don't mean no part of me no good.  From
Bob Dylan's girl friend to his mother, in one terribly
complicated lesson.  Yes, Mrs. Zimmerman (sure, Mom), I'd love to
meet you for lunch.  "You're up here with Echo, aren't you?"
(No, mom, HONEST.  I haven't done anything wrong...pick you up at

Ah, Sweet Jesus-of-the-mines, deliver me from the existential
metaphysics of my workaday sins.  Mrs. Zimmerman hasn't granted
an interview since 1963, when TIME and NEWSWEEK did hatchet jobs
on Bob, his music, AND his background.  Somehow, though, I've
managed to convince her over the phone that I'm not really an
ogre.  Echo's told me to be "sure and mention that Jewish
fellow's name RIGHT OFF, what is it, Goldstine?" but her advice
is meager solace as I trudge on down Harvard Street.  Feldman's
two-story building looks like some witness stand in the distance.
At the big glass door, the better part of valor nearly gains the
upper hand...but then I'm inside, smack dab in the center of the
Ladies' Department, dresses and scarfs and racks and cash
registers and Mrs. Zimmerman smiling and shaking my hand, more
attractive than I'd ever imagined and friendly as can be!  She
suggests that I hurry next door to the Howard Restaurant and grab
a booth, assuring me that she'll be over directly.  I offer meek
assent, floating back out the door in a cloud of deepest awe at
the responsibility of my task.

I am successful, and Mrs. Zimmerman joins me in a short five
minutes.  Under a Florida tan and a glamorous head of blonde
hair, she is a dead ringer for Bob!  It's positively spooky.  She
even has the same accent; and her eyes could belong to no one
else but Bob Dylan's Mother.

She doesn't wish to be quoted, "except to say that I couldn't be
prouder of both my sons," and then proceeds to talk about Bob
non-stop for over an hour.  But I am lucky.  Most of the things
she says are of Bob's life now, and of no real concern to a
Robert Zimmerman fan.  But she recalls how she and her husband
were besieged for years at the old house by pilgrims and well-
wishers; how reporters still call her from all over the country
to ask such trivia as the hour of Bob's birth; how she can't even
mention her name at a party in another town without people
virtually forming a receiving line to ask about Bob.

People stop at our table every couple of minutes, shaking Mrs.
Zimmerman's hand and asking about Florida, or bussing her in big
welcome home hugs.  But no one asks about Bob here; this is Mrs.
Zimmerman's show.

She goes on to quietly explode many of the old myths about Bob
having run away and not keeping in touch after he finally DID
leave home at nineteen and one-half; about the evolution of the
name 'Dylan' (of course it was after Dylan Thomas.  Bob had no
family name even remotely similar.)  Our hamburgers and several
cups of coffee finished, my ears ringing with tales of the great
man too numerous and terrifyingly close to home ever to see the
printed page.  Mrs. Zimmerman signals our waitress and insists on
picking up the check.  I thank her perhaps too much and we make
our way back to the sidewalk reality of afternoon Hibbing.  I
shake hands and say goodbye at Feldman's big front door, thanking
her again and promising to send a copy of whatever I write...and
she is gone, disappearing into the least assuming building in


(bold letters) Back outside of Sigma Alpha Mu's chapter house,
Ellen takes me past a grassy lawn in front of a University
building, where she and Bob used to sunbathe in Minnesota's late-
spring relief from winter.  "Bob and I would spread out on the
grass here on those rare warm afternoons and watch people go by.
Bob used to love to do that, just watch people, imagining.
Especially girls.  He'd lie on his stomach with his blue eyes
twice normal size, until we had to go to class.  Or until I had
to go to class.  Usually I'd leave Bob lying there on his
stomach, still staring.

"Bob was funny about girls.  At first he seemed very shy, sort of
scared, but it didn't take long before you noticed a good deal of
that was an act.  Bob was surprisingly amorous.  And
undiscriminating!  He's see a girl on the street or at a party,
and it didn't matter what she looked like or who she was with, if
he was in that mood.

"Bob and I weren't that way, and it bothered him a lot.
Gradually, he started coming over to dinner less and less, and
we'd run into each other by accident on the street, say
hello...Later, when we'd stopped seeing one another altogether
and I'd heard he'd actually gone East, I wa surprised.  But not
worried.  I knew that little-boy helplessness of his wouldn't
desert him in New York.  He'd survive."

"Have you seen Bob since he left college; since he's become

"Uh-huh, twice, both times here in Minneapolis.  The first was
down by the river, a couple of years after he'd gone East.  Joan
Baez was in town for a concert at the University, and I had no
idea Bob was back.  But my husband and I were strolling along
that afternoon, and here come Bob and Joan Baez on bicycles.
They stopped to say hello, but Bob was sort of abrupt.  The other
time, Bob was here for a concert and a bunch of us went
backstage.  He didn't have much to say that night either.

"It was funny the way I found out he'd made a record, too.  I was
in Cambridge, Massachusetts visiting my husband, oh, about a year
and a half after Bob left Minnesota, and I was in some club that
was so small it didn't even have a john.  You had to go upstairs
through a record store.  Anyway, I was on my way to the john
through this stop when I spied Bob's record.  It was taped up in
the window, staring right at me.  I can remember stopping and
saying to myself, wait a minute!  I know that fellow!  And then,
after I'd bought the record and seen the liner notes, thinking,
'well, Robert!  You've made it after all."


Sunday after noon suppers for Echo's family in Hibbing haven't
changed much since she was a little girl.  Weather permitting,
parents, in-laws, grandparents, and grandchildren all gather
outside Matt and Martha Helstrom's house, cut themselves long
sticks for roasting wieners and huddle around a big outdoor
fireplace.  The conversation is of game, children, the constantly
changing weather, or any great northern pike that might have been
landed.  At four o'clock in the afternoon the moon has already
risen, pale and icy in the north country sky.  Matt Helstrom has
killed two bears no more than thirty yards from his front door in
the years he has lived here outside of Hibbing, and the hides are
nailed skin-up on an old tractor shed out back.

Inside, Matt Helstrom is running movies he's made this past
winter of deer feeding on hay and grass piled up on deep snow by
concerned villagers.  Ten or twelve deer spring up from their
feeding and race down the service road behind Echo's house.  A
hand-held camera follows them through the windshield of Matt
Helstrom's station wagon, on down the road, and into a distant
woods.  White tails and hoofs kicking up snow through the brush.

Lights come on, conversation resumes, and Echo's mother emerges
from the basement with an armful of old 78's.  She spreads them
out on a sofa, and I browse through a few--some with "Echo
Helstrom" taped to the labels.  Yes, Bob and Echo had listened to
records together here at the Helstrom's.  Probably to some of the
ones I'm holding in my hand.  Mrs. Helstrom puts on several,
well-worn but still playable: Spade Cooley's "Detour," Cowboy
Copas' "Candy Kisses", Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys,
Eddie Arnold, Hank Snow..."That Hank Snow song there, 'Prisoner
of Love.'  Bob used to sing like that, talk-singing.  He'd play a
couple of verses with his friend John Bucklen, and then go into
the talking.  He'd make up songs that way, too.  Some situation
would pop into his head and he'd build on it, going for the
longest time!  I don't think he ever wrote those songs down
though; they were just fun when he'd make them up on the spur of
the moment.

"I wish I had some old picture of Bob, but I don't think--but
wait!  There ARE some old pictures in my yearbooks!  Why didn't I
think of that before?  Let me look."  Echo disappears for a
moment into a bedroom, returning with two dark green *HEMATITES*.
the first is from Bob and Echo's senior year, 1958-59.  They had
broken up by then, and the picture of Bob is a chubby Elvis
Presley pose, with just the hint of a smirk on his shiny lips.
The second *HEMATITE* is the 1957-58 edition, Bob and Echo's
eleventh grade year, when they were still going steady.  This
picture is a little more like it--Bob's curly hair is mussed in a
familiar fashion, his face is thinner, and a grimace of startling
intensity leaps out from the page.

"Look at that face!" Echo whistles, "Boy, Bob must have REALLY
been mad that day."

A decrepit recording of Carson Robinson's "Ohio Prison Fire"
suddenly flips on, diverting Echo's attention.  "Oh listen to
THIS one, Toby.  This has got to be one of the earliest of those
modern-type protest songs; I can't remember whether or not Bob
ever heard it, but isn't it like him?"  I pay strict attention to
the mournful tale of an entire prison gutted by fire--a fire that
took the life of every man still locked in his cell, and
apparently due to over-crowding and negligence on the part of the
guards.  The song could easily have appeared on "The Times They
Are A-Changin."

"These old records were interesting, even in those days, but
mostly Bob played his own music.  Not stuff he'd written but
things from the radio.  He'd sit out front there on that swing
and play his guitar, or perch on some old stone steps that used
to lead up to our front door.  He'd sit and play, alone or with
John Bucklen, and I'd be the audience.  The songs he'd play then
weren't band songs, but quiet ones, sort of country, like what
we've been listening to."

Echo's swaying slowly back and forth on Bob's old swing, draggin
a toe in dirt not toyed with for some years.  Another Hank Snow
record scratches and clicks into action on Mrs. Helstrom's
Victrola, and the sound of muffled guitars and fiddles drifts out
of the yard and up towards Maple Hill.

The song ends, and Echo's mother is calling to us from a window.
She's found something special.  One of Bobby's songs she'd
forgotten she'd bought.  Echo fumbles with the 45 spindle, dusts
off the old needle, and-- "Chimes of Freedom", done in Byrds-
electric fashion by a group called The Bad Omens.  Mrs. Helstrom
smiles her big Swedish smile and does a little bounce.  Echo sits
down on the day bed, slouching to the rhythm.  I listen and

The B side is another old song, "He Was a Friend of Mine."

NOTE:  Toby Thompson is working on a book about Bob Dylan, but he
never met the man or any of his acquaintances until a chance
phone call led him to Dylan's uncle.  One the strength of that
brief conversation, Toby drove from his home in Maryland to
Hibbing, Minn., where Dylan spent most of his youth.  What he
found on that trip appeared last spring in *The Village Voice*.
We sent him back to Hibbing for another look around.
                 Marguerita's note:  anybody know if Toby
                 actually DID write a book?  what happened
                 to him????????

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