This 1969 photo of two college kids bumming their way through Europe has been on my About
page since GardenRant launched in 2006, with my hidden agenda that maybe someone would see it and say "Hey, that’s Bob Oakes!" and tell me where he is now, 35 or so years after I’d lost contact with him. Nothing.
Then recently I registered on Facebook, where they ask you what schools you went to and when, and I got discovered by another guy in our little crowd back at Oberlin in its counterculture and anti-war heyday. He read my About page here and wrote me, "Hey, isn’t that Bob Oakes?" and the next email I get back tells me that Bob’s in Asheville, NC and here’s his email address!
Bam, past suddenly springs to the present, and before it’s sunk in I get THIS photo of Bob (kneeling in front) with his family in front of the Smokey Mountains. Assembled are his adult kids
with their spouses and grandchild, his younger daughters, and his wife Ann. So right away I see that he’s still cute and trim, and a good family man. Notice his "neo-hippie" son? That’s Bob’s term, an obviously affectionate one.
An accompanying email then tells me he’s still playing his guitar, either jamming with friends or playing for kids, and has worked for and with kids all his life. So there’s been no being co-opting for him – our biggest fear back in the day.
And more good news about the mutual friend who sent me Bob’s email address. He and his wife were the first certified organic farmers in Kentucky for over a decade, and now garden for pleasure in Hawaii. So who says growing up means having to change who you are?