With the benefit of hindsight, I am able to see the era after Steven as a turning point for Big Gray. Before and during Steven's tenure, I remember us acting much more by acclimation rather than by deliberation.The Native American metaphor, provided a kind of back story for us, and it produced a house where action often came before discussion. I suppose it would be valid to call it anarchy. I had a prejudice about establishing rules, as did many of the earlier members. We did have basic expectations that we would act towards each other in good faith, however. I mentioned before the way we took Kim into the house. We decided 5 minutes after he left the room that he was in.. We used to clean the house the same way. You might see Richie and Sylvia standing on the roof over the first floor shaking out rugs, and you would start cleaning yourself. Or the time right after Steven came, when we spent the day refurbishing the Library and painting (On Magic Mushrooms). Of course, a person could easily feel overlooked with that kind of "gang mentality" but I liked it better than setting up rules and having to say at meetings," The Library wasn't cleaned last week". During the early days, we were hated by the neighbors and that snake George (from the church) who would prowl around the house and take grape leaves without asking. All that adversary brought us together. I guess what happened after those initial 6 or 7 years is that we all needed a break from the chaos around our little group, and in a way, we became ordinary. Oh, the parties would still be good, and we would still have the opportunities to meet some great people along the way. And the internal disputes would continue,not as intensely for sure,. We would still have our share of eccentrics, but we would never again feel the same kind of exhilaration as when it was "us against the world".
The next person we took into Big Gray caused many meetings and discussions before we decided on her.She was a new direction for all of us. Every person we took into the house prior to Joyce had a certain kind of connection to the so-called" hippie or alternative" culture. Even Andrea who was pretty "straight" was extremely interested in alternative communities. In a way, Joyce symbolized the era that was to follow. Ironically, she wound up with Kim who was the most visible of our hippies. But when I interviewed her, I perceived this rather frail, cool woman who was here to study, (like many before and after her) who hated her present Manhattan "closet" and needed to find a cheap place to live. I never felt a real need(from her) to want to live with us because she thought it was anything more than a practical idea. I couldn't get off that till Barbara made the point that we needed her rent, we had been interviewing for a month and, she emphasized, we needed to clean up our act. I didn't want to clean up our act. I liked that we grew pot in the backyard. However, Barbara had a point too. It was right for us to take in someone who would be steady, straight and more "main stream". In the end, Barbara's thinking prevailed, and we voted Joyce a member. Maureen too came at that point. She too needed a place more than she needed to live in a commune. John wanted her because she was his age, but in the end, Maureen would join forces with Joyce and become a "voting block" to be dealt with over the years. There were many times I felt frustrated by their combined wills as when they voted against accepting a good friend of mine into the house. But, I can also recall many meetings where it was Joyce's cool way of looking at a problem that produced a solution. They both stayed to the end of our time as a house, so in many ways, the last fourteen years of our history can rightly be known as the Joyce and Maureen era. They were both part of the next group that would leave their mark on Big Gray- the group led by the Ohio Kid, Dan K.