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Posted: November 20, 2018

What Happened To Alice? - 5 Fast Facts On The Reality Of Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving Saga

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 09:  Singer/Songwriter Arlo Guthrie performs at The GRAMMY Museum on April 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Michael Buckner/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 09: Singer/Songwriter Arlo Guthrie performs at The GRAMMY Museum on April 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, Arlo Guthrie’s vietnam-era protest saga is bursting at the the seems with scenes from a small town on Thanksgiving Day, 1965. What’s changed in town since Guthrie, then 18, and friend Rick Robbins, 19, cleared out the Stockbridge, Massachusetts home of Alice and Ray Brock?(Wikipedia)

1. “Alice” And Ray Brock

The Alice in the song was then restaurant-owner Alice May Brock. In 1964, shortly after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, Alice used $2,000 supplied by her mother to purchase near-abandoned church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where Alice and her husband Ray Brock (c. 1928–1979) would live. It was here rather than at the restaurant where the song's Thanksgiving dinners were actually held. See below a quick interview with Alice courtesy of Blaincast on YouTube.(Wikipedia)

2. The Original “Alice’s Restaurant”

Brock's original restaurant was called "The Back Room". It was located in Stockbridge, in back of a row of stores, as stated in the song lyrics; at the time, it was located behind a grocery store and directly underneath the studios of Norman Rockwell. Theresa's Stockbridge Café was last known to occupy the site; the café's sign makes note that the space was "Formerly Alice's Restaurant".(Wikipedia)

By Dtobias - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

3. Officer Obie

According to the original police blotter from the local paper, “Richard J. Robbins, 19, of Poughkeepsie, New York, and Arlo Guthrie, 18, of Howard Beach, New York, each paid a fine of $25 in Lee District Court after pleading guilty of illegally disposing of rubbish. Special Justice James E. Hannon ordered the youths to remove all the rubbish. They did so Saturday afternoon, following a heavy rain. Police Chief William J. Obanhein of Stockbridge said later the youths found dragging the junk up the hillside much harder than throwing it down. He said he hoped their case would be an example to others who are careless about disposal of rubbish.” Obanhein would be immortalized as Officer Obie in the details of the song thereafter.(Wikipedia)

4. The VW “Microbus”

The Volkswagen Microbus used to transport the garbage reportedly no longer exists, with Guthrie stating in summer 2015 that it had been "relegated to history"(WikiPedia)

VW bus at a local car show.

5. “The Church”

The former church where the story begins, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The church, originally built as the St. James Chapel in 1829, was enlarged in 1866 and renamed Trinity Church. Ray and Alice Brock purchased the property in 1964 and made it their home. Alice sold the building shortly after the film adaptation was released, commenting that the song and film had brought a great deal of unwanted publicity. The building changed ownership several times in the 1970’s and 1980’s until Guthrie bought the facility in 1991 and converted it to the Guthrie Center, a nondenominational, interfaith meeting place.

In the main chapel area is a stage on which Officer Obie's chair sits as a reminder of the arrest. On Thanksgiving, the church hosts a "Thanksgiving dinner that can't be beat" for the local community. The annual "Garbage Trail Walk", retracing the steps of Arlo and folksinger Rick Robbins (as told in the song), raises money for Huntington's disease research. (Wikipedia)


 
 
 

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