Peter didn’t join Micky, Davy and Mike when these three Monkees took wing for England and other places across the Atlantic. Instead, he flew to Greenwich Village, his “home away from home”—there to renew old friendships and talk about “old times.” This is the story of that visit.
While the other Monkees were cavorting around England and Europe, Peter Halsten Thorkelson (or Peter Tork to all you members of the Monkees “Monday Night Madness” Club) was quietly enjoying the slightly Bohemian leisure life of New York’s famous Greenwich Village. When Micky, Mike and Davy set their sails for London, Peter got on the first plane to New York City—for he had a deep longing to visit his Village pals and buddies (whom he hadn’t seen in many a month), to see a few of his “uptown” friends and to spend a quiet evening with his beloved grandmother, Mrs. Catherine Straus.
Before we get into the story, there’s one small item which should be covered here and now for once and for all. Yes (as it was recently printed in a film magazine), Peter Tork was, indeed, married once.
It was one of those fast “childhood” type marriages that some young people of every generation throughout history have gotten caught up in. The ex-Mrs. Tork’s name was Jody. She came from a horse-loving family, and during her holidays from school, she had spent most of her spare time training horses. At the time of the wedding, she was 16 years old, and she and Peter had been going steady for a number of months.
They were married at Jody’s mother’s home in Nyack, N.Y., on June 5, 1964. It was an informal ceremony, attended by the bride and groom’s parents and a few personal friends. Peter and Jody tried hard but coldn’t [sic] make a go of it, and were separated three months after the wedding. Some time thereafter they were divorced. They are still friends and see each other occasionally in New York and Los Angeles.
Back to Greenwich Village. Peter’s return there this past February was a typical hero’s homecoming—Village style!
As one friend recalled, “A whole bunch of us were sitting around the Tin Angel on Bleecker Street on a busy Friday night. A guy came through the door wearing beat-up levis, a heavy dark jacket and a funny-looking tan cowboy hat. ‘There’s Tork,’ someone said casually and, sure enough, there he stood—with a big, boyish grin on his face. ‘Sit down,’ someone said. ‘Hey, man—you look like you’ve been eatin’ regularly.’
“Peter laughed, and breathed what sounded like a sigh of relief. Then he relaxed completely. The next hour was a happy whirlwind of greetings from old friends and good-natured cracks about the Monkees came from all corners of the crowded restaurant. Jenny, the waitress—an old friend—rushed up and threw her arms around Peter, giving him a warm, friendly hug. ‘Hey, Jenny, stop Monkeeing around,’ someone shouted—and everybody broke up. Peter, feigning at being a super star, stood up and grumbled, ‘Don’t you recognize who I am?’ ‘Sure—that’s the trouble!’ came an answer, and everybody laughed some more.”
Peter’s friend told me later that the thing Peter appreciated most about the Village was the casualness of everyone there. “No matter how big or how small you are in show business,” Peter says, “you can go back to the Village and be your real self. That’s all anyone cares about down there, and that’s a relief from some of the pretentiousness of Hollywood.”
While in the Village, Peter stayed at the apartment of his buddy, Lance Wakely. Sadly, he only got to spend two days with Lance—as Lance left for Tokyo on a concert tour shortly after Peter arrived.
Peter didn’t go out of the Village much during his stay there—he sat around listening to LP’s by Judy Collins, the Beatles, Jimmy Reed and Ravi Shankar. Many of his old friends came by to visit Peter and his host, Lance’s roommate, poet Marty Gutherz.
Among the entertainers Peter saw during his trip we’re Tim Hardin at the Scene, Orlo [sic] Guthrie (Woody’s [sic] Guthrie’s son) and Jack Elliot at the Gaslight, and Eric Andersen at the Go Go. At the Dugout, he had long talks with such “folk world” luminaries as Phil Ochs, Felix Pappalardi and Jesse Colin Young. Peter also spent time eating at the English Pub on Sixth Avenue, practicing guitar, reading loads of science fiction and watching—every Monday night—the Monkees. He also attended a recital given by an old friend, Peter Basquin, who was graduating from the Manhattan School of Music—and he spent a quiet evening reminiscing with his grandmother while dining with her.
On his birthday—February 13—he called his mom and dad in Regina for a long, friendly chat. St. Valentine’s Day found Peter Tork departing for Los Angeles (a week before he was due back) to face the terrible hum of the dentist’s drill. It seems that he hadn’t had that recommended bi-annual checkup in a couple of years, so it was time for him to pay his dues. Ugh!
The future for Peter, and the rest of the Monkees, is so sunny that the light rays are blinding—but they won’t be so bright that you can’t go on happily seeing Peter’s golden hair, sparkling antics—and don’t forget about that shining smile!