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memories of Harpo
by 4beats2the wind

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  • My Harpo story   by  4beats2the wind     16 y     2,471       7 Messages Shown       Blog: memories of Harpo
    I was one of the many souls he saved. When I first met Harpo, he was standing in front of his restaurant, “Harpo’s health house by the sea”. He sized me up pretty well: walking on the wild side of life, self- destructive, sad, and lost. “Honey, what does a man like me have to do to get to know a girl like you?” he said. “That’s easy,” I said, “just pay me.” He was merely confirming his suspicions, not really interested in what I had to offer on that level. I was a vegetarian and quickly became hooked on his food. He thought I was broke so he only charged me $2 a day for all I could eat plus a huge smoothie. I came every day to feast, and from Harpo I learned what REAL, FRESH, wholesome food was, at its best. He made different wonderful sauces from the freshest ingredients, colorfully topped over brown rice seasoned to perfection. Each day was a flavor adventure. My favorite thing was his avocado tacos made from corn tortillas straight from Mexico, loaded with guacamole, and topped with Mexican goat cheese. One day I invited him over to my apartment and when he saw that I had a plush place right on the bay he raised me to $3 a day.

    It was 1976, and I went out and bought myself a brand new Lancia Beta, an Italian car. Harpo, seeing an opportunity here, thought that the car should be put to work, and I was soon making monthly trips with him across the border to bring back produce for the restaurant. Those were some of the best times! We would laugh all the way; mingle with the farmers at the outdoor market, and pig out on everything we both loved: papayas, mangoes, melons and freshly made corn tortillas. He was truly in his element around food, and the humble people who grew and sold it. Our big thrill was sneaking the mangoes across the border. We weren’t allowed to bring them across, and of coarse we weren’t going back without them, they were a key ingredient in the tasty smoothies which Harpo brought to life, as a non- dairy answer to the Mexican drink, the Liquado, which was sold on the streets Tijuana.
    My life was slowly changing from darkness to light. I was waking up to the love of a friend, to laughter, to health, and literally to loving the daytime and not wanting to work at night anymore.

    One day I came to Harpo telling him that in 10 days I was supposed to have a hysterectomy. He had to think on that one for a couple of days. (He always took the time to carefully think and pray over serious matters) He recommended that I go to a homeopathic doctor. I did and ended up getting well without the surgery (later having two kids). I know that God put us on each others path to help one another and that there are no coincidences, only opportunities. What a different life I would have had, had I not known him.

    When Harpo lost his restaurant, due to the landlord not renewing his lease, it was a huge blow to him. He had nowhere to go and seemingly no purpose left. The “Harpo family”, his family of friends, no longer had a gathering place. It was a place to live for many and a place to crash for some, traveling through. I had just moved to another apartment, a sweet older building with a courtyard. Harpo decided that he should come live with me and feed me back to health. I wasn’t sure about that, but what the heck I had no life anyway. He needed a purpose and I was grateful to have a live in cook and he was my friend and I was glad to help him. We agreed that he would do the cooking and buy all the food and I would pay the rent. At this point I went out and found myself a job making costumes for a street theatre group and I was crewing on sailboats. At some point during those times I learned photography and worked for a local photographer. The sequence slips my mind now so many years later.
    Harpo and I had food in common. We loved to raid avocado grapefruit, orange and persimmon trees along the alleys. He would lift me up on his shoulders and we would fill huge gunny sacks. Often times we would drive to the farms up north and bring back huge bags full of fruit, avocados, and even some macadamia nuts. If anyone confronted us while in the fields, Harpo would put them to work loading the car, as if we were supposed to be there. People would always do whatever he said. And did we ever laugh! We laughed all the time. Harpo loved to laugh, his laughter was infectious. Our apartment was always filled with fruit ripening all over the shelves, drawers the corners. Nothing ever went to waste either. Harpo was a master. He was a gem. A great gift.

    It was during this time and while I was away that he met Mary. He would be down in the courtyard lifting weights and blasting his Christian radio station, much to the annoyance of all the other tenants. That was Harpo. He was on a path to Jesus. He let everyone know it and let them know that they should be too. He told me that I kept him on his knees. Mary walked by and that was it. They’ve been friends ever since. Before Mary and I, met he would tell me “Honey, you’re gonna love Mary. You and she are going to be friends forever.” Then after we met he would say, “Mary just loves you so much” He wanted to make sure we became friends, I guess. And we did and we still are. AND…..It’s because of Mary that I met and married my sweet husband now of 25 years. Funny, life’s chain of events. Harpo where would I be without you? (Also, married by “your enchanted gardener.” In Balboa park what a circle!)

    Harpo went to live with his “marvelous mother” as he called her. The years went by. Sometimes Harpo was in my life, sometimes not, always in my heart. One of those connections that the instant you talk, it’s just like old times, and he had a tremendous gift to tuning into you and knowing exactly where you were at.. He was something else while on this earth and I completely know without a doubt that he is still laughing and loving, getting absolutely the most out of being alive. Because I know he lives, in that place where we go when we leave this earth. Probably not far from here.

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    4beats2the wind
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