Ron Lambe oral history interview, 2015-05-09

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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FRANKLIN ABBOTT: Today is what? May the ninth?

RON LAMBE: Ninth.

ABBOTT: Okay, and I'm Franklin Abbott and I'm speaking with my old friend Ron Lambe here in his home in Asheville, North Carolina. What I'd like to start out by asking you is about your family. To tell me a little bit about your father and where his people came from and your mother and where they came from.

LAMBE: Interesting. They're all gone just about. I have one aunt by marriage. The rest are cousins, but that's another story. My, um, my mother, she had a -- she was a Thornlow. They were Quakers from England. They had moved to this country and part of the family went to Canada and part went to -- near Greensboro there was a Quaker enclave and so they moved there. Charlie, our 1:00father, was quite a character, apparently. And they were not the quiet, meditative Quakers. These were the kind of ordinary Quakers. At any rate, that was my mother's family. She was born [Capelia?] Beatrice Thornlow and he mother was Zylphia Nelson. Maiden name. I've always loved that name. And that's where I get my middle name. Nelson is from my --

ABBOTT: Oh, okay.

LAMBE: Mother's mother's maiden name. My father, Parrell Newton Lambe, was -- they were all born around 1900, ten, twelve, something like that. And, uh, that was another family of about nine people. And he was like this oldest male. So he 2:00was like the second in the family. Blanche was the oldest and they're all gone now. But he worked -- they had quite a lot -- my father and mother, I think they eloped. They were married in Roanoke, Virginia. They had kind of a life of their own. My father worked for Pitney Bowes. He became quite an engineer without the training or anything but he was well-liked. And at some point, he was transferred to Stamford, Connecticut and we all packed up and moved to Stamford, Connecticut and those were my teenage years. And they were wonderful years those. We lived in this little two-block boulevard with a field behind and a stream back there and a little jungle behind the house. And we had this house. 3:00He died very suddenly in the forties with a heart attack. That's when we had to move back to Greensboro and I was there basically until I graduated from high school. And then I joined the army, and then on the G.I. Bill I went to college at UNCA. And then I worked for a couple years. I was surprised when I graduated because I wasn't sure what I was going to do. And so, I ended up selling -- moving to San Francisco in fifty-seven. That's not right. Sixty-one, sixty-four. And, so, I moved to San Francisco from sixty-four to seventy-nine. Halcyon years. Sold records most of the time. So we went to the opera and we did all that stuff. So what else do you need about my family?

4:00

ABBOTT: Well, I want to back you up. So your father's family was from what area?

LAMBE: Oh, they're from Randleman and they were Lambes.

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: And the big controversy there was half the family spelled the name with an e and half the family without the e. I never did find out the story. I asked my mother once and she said, "Well, they just decided they didn't want to do that." So two brothers added the e to their name.

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: And I'm one of the few that have the e in my name.

ABBOTT: I see, I see.

LAMBE: I called it a Norman affectation.

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: Because you have a little extra e in your -- French.

ABBOTT: And so where were your parents when they met?

LAMBE: Well, she was born in Kernersville, which is near Winston. And he was in Randleman and they moved to Greensboro. So they must have met in Greensboro. That's where the Friends had a church there, you know. Yeah.

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: So I imagine it was Greensboro.

5:00

ABBOTT: And you think they eloped. And then how long after they were married did you come along?

LAMBE: No, it was quite a while. I would say maybe nine years or so, yeah. I was born in thirty-six.

ABBOTT: And where? Where were you born?

LAMBE: In Greensboro.

ABBOTT: In Greensboro, okay. And so, your childhood was in Greensboro?

LAMBE: Yes, and then I had a period in Connecticut.

ABBOTT: In Connecticut as an adolescent?

LAMBE: Right.

ABBOTT: And, you know, you said your adolescence was wonderful. Is that in contrast to your childhood in Greensboro? Or?

LAMBE: Yes, and no. I just think that Connecticut was more idyllic in the sense that it had all the other things going on when I was at that age. But that was puberty coming in and all those exciting things and experiments.

ABBOTT: Yes, yes. So, you know, you became aware of being gay fairly early?

6:00

LAMBE: Yes, but remember then the fifties, we didn't even have that word.

ABBOTT: Right.

LAMBE: I didn't know what it was but I knew I had a special attraction. When I was in high school, I had a special friend and we -- he used to play piano and I would just sit and turn pages and I was just in heaven. And we had a little something together. And interestingly enough when he graduated, he joined the navy and I joined the army and we basically lost touch with each other. But many, many years ago -- later -- he ended up in California and I visited him and I said, what did I ever see in him (laughs)?

ABBOTT: Oh, well.

LAMBE: Well, you know, we all change. And when you're young and idyllic -- idealistic -- and it was just a --

ABBOTT: Well, hormones certainly create --

LAMBE: Their own aura.

ABBOTT: Their own aura. Exactly.

7:00

LAMBE: And we see through those glasses and --

ABBOTT: But the beloved is always beautiful.

LAMBE: Yes, and see I still didn't have a name for it. I just feel I had this special attraction that didn't quite fit everything else that was going on. But I was something of a loner. See I'm the only child.

ABBOTT: Right.

LAMBE: And, uh, it was nothing and we lived downtown. My mother worked for the telephone company, but she had odd hours. Late. So, a lot of times I would just go to the movies by myself and walk down back to the house and everything. And, um --

ABBOTT: And there you have it.

LAMBE: Yeah, so --

ABBOTT: So, out of high school you didn't go to college. You joined the army.

LAMBE: Yes, first, which is kind of reverse but that was the way I got the G.I. Bill.

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: Because I couldn't afford to go otherwise. There was no money for that.

ABBOTT: And how long -- were you in the army for two years? Three?

8:00

LAMBE: Three. I was stationed -- that's another whole chapter. Let's see, I went to -- my basic training was in Georgia in August. It was -- this was not easy. Not well thought out. But then my clerk typing -- I went to -- I was assigned to clerk typing school. So, I learned to type, touch-type in the army. And then I was all set to go to Panama Canal. I said, "Oh, that's wonderful." So, I had my beach umbrellas and everything lined up and they pulled me out because they didn't have G.I. glasses. I had perfectly good glasses but they weren't government-issue glasses. So, I had to be in a holding company for two or three months while they processed all that. And I played the organ and raked the grass and worked in KP. Silliness. And I was eventually stationed, assigned to 9:00California. When I got to California, I was assigned to a chaplain who happened to be Episcopalian, which is my faith, so -- by adoption. So, that worked out great and then he after about a year -- and when I was in California, you know, we were at Fort Ord, which is very close to -- it's between San Francisco and Monterrey. I didn't have a car but what I could do was get a ride into Monterrey -- and there were buses, too -- and rent a bicycle and drive the seventeen-mile drive, which was just wonderful. All that fog and the beautiful. And then have tea or something in Carmel and then ride back on the freeway, which was a little dangerous now that I think about it. It was fast. And it was a great experience. I did all kinds of things. I managed to get up to San Francisco to an opera one 10:00time. But I worked as a chaplain's assistant for about a year with this priest, Father Olsen. And he got transferred to Korea. This was after the war but it was the truce -- just about a year or two after the truce. So it was still a little rough. And it wasn't much longer -- maybe six months or so -- I got transferred to Korea. Let him know. Boy, he was a wheeler and dealer. So, once I got there, I was pulled out of this line and this line and this line and scooted out because he wanted me back, which I took was a very good compliment. And we got along fine. He was a character and collected cuckoo clocks as I recall. (laughter) I mean, all kinds of clocks and he set them a minute apart so at midnight it was a cacophony in his house. But, uh, we had a MASH unit across the 11:00road from us and he was always hanging around there. So, and we built this chapel up on a hill on a helicopter pad. It was an engineer outfit and so he was very creative in all of the stuff he managed and occasionally he would go to Japan so I got to stay up on the officer's hill within his hooch. And they would bring the meal to me since I couldn't eat with the officers. I had it pretty good. You know, my biggest problem was having to do guard duty. I hated it. But anyway that was my way to get to college.

ABBOTT: Right, and so, when you got out, where did you go to college?

LAMBE: At UNC. UNC Chapel Hill. I had been there before. I knew how beautiful it was. One of the interesting this is I've been fortunate to live at the right 12:00place at the right time. These were great years to be in Chapel Hill. I mean we had parties. People would drive from Washington to go to. And the morning after there were people strewn in the lawn, furniture in the lawn. They were wild parties and so that was fun. I was hoping that by having the benefit of three years of, uh, service I might be a little more mature in college but, um, that didn't help that much because I was still coming out at that point. That's when I really kind of socially came out. I had, by the way, some fair amount of interesting sexual encounters in the army, but it was all kind of personal and it wasn't social. There's a difference. But then I discovered gay life in Chapel 13:00Hill and we would go to New York for parties and it was quite the affair.

ABBOTT: Wow, and what year was that?

LAMBE: Well, let's see it would be fifty-seven to sixty-one. And then I worked for a couple of years after that because, as I said before, graduated kind of unexpectedly because I had partied so much I had never -- I took a major in comparative literature, which is a graduate level degree. And I can't read -- I mean, I like molasses reading. They would assign a novel in one night. I can't, I couldn't keep up with that. It's a wonder I ever got out through that. I think the advisor took pity on me. But it was a noble endeavor.

14:00

ABBOTT: So, what kinds of things did you study in college?

LAMBE: Well, um, German, French. I kind of was a minor in German. Orchestra. I played in the orchestra then. See I started playing cello in grade school. We had a wonderful music program in Greensboro at that time. What's his name? Harriman, anyway. So, I've always kept that. When I went to college, I played but was not serious about it. I just sort of played along and then I basically stopped when I moved to San Francisco. It was interesting. It wasn't until later in my Running Water days that I picked it up again and now I do it all the time and I have a whole career with the cello again.

15:00

ABBOTT: Wow. Wow. So, at the end of college you migrated to San Francisco? And you went out there because you knew there was a better life for gay people?

LAMBE: Exactly. I felt as, as wonderful as Chapel Hill was, it's still the South. It was not comfortable and I just felt like I needed more freedom, more support instead of having to hide everything or be surrep-- what is the word?

ABBOTT: Surreptitious.

LAMBE: Surreptitious. Thank you. So it was more for freedom, basically. And it was true. When I got to San Francisco, it was halcyon years and it was like a 16:00kid in a candy store, you know. And, so, that's another whole chapter of experimentation and bars, beaches and baths.

ABBOTT: Bars, beaches and baths -- oh, my!

LAMBE: Oh, my (laughter)! And it's true. I did it all and I relished it all. I especially liked the outdoors when I was in San Francisco. So, I had several other careers besides work, which was another passion is the music, of course.

ABBOTT: And you said you sold records?

LAMBE: I sold records but we had -- but this was a store that specialized in classical music. So, it being San Francisco, we had autograph parties. And so it was nothing unusual to have divas like Joan Sutherland or Luciano Pavarotti to come by and sign autographs. And we would get their records and we would get to meet them. And is was -- and then sometimes we'd get tickets to the opera and, 17:00so, that was all wonderful. But somewhere in that process I got into rafting, whitewater rafting. Just sort of fell into it and did that for a number of years. In fact, McGinnis was the one who wrote the book -- a book, anyway, on whitewater rafting. I went with his tours and he liked me a lot because I could be organized. So he brought me along as river chef. Now, I can't cook a boiled egg, you know, but I could organize the food. Because it would be like seven days and you had to have pork chops here, you had to have. So I could do that and we'd go shopping we'd have twenty carts full of food to pack in order so 18:00that they -- so, he needed me for that. And I enjoyed it, it was great. We went to Oregon. One of my favorite trips was the Grand Canyon. I mean, not the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River and Santa Elena Canyon and the Rio Grande -- which is not a big river. Not at all. But it was a -- the river at one point goes through this huge rock cliff and all this stuff goes one way and the river just sort of trickles along. It makes it look like you're just falling down. And but we did that on a New Year's so it was cold in the night and warm in the day. But we did lots of those and then, just reverse, I ended up buying a sailboat. So I had a sailboat in San Francisco and joined the racing club and all that stuff (unintelligible). We had lots of adventures in the sailboat. And one of the most 19:00fun was we sailed to Stockton. There was some friends of mine -- a gay couple -- and we went to in a week we sailed up the Sacramento River and into Stockton and back. It was a breeze getting there. It was a chore getting back because we were upwind and I had this little putt-putt motor that could barely make the tide. But we did it. It was a fun thing. My two happiest days is when I bought the boat and when I sold it.

ABBOTT: Okay, okay. A lot of people say that about boats.

LAMBE: Yes. I have very great memories of that and I've got pictures, of course.

ABBOTT: So, how old were you during that period of time? Were you in your --

LAMBE: Thirties and forties, I guess.

ABBOTT: Thirties.

LAMBE: It must be thirties. I'll have to add it up.

ABBOTT: Okay, so, you were in a relatively young period of time. So, you were 20:00selling records, organizing food for river trips, you had a sailboat. Now, your spiritual life became active in an unusual way in San Francisco.

LAMBE: It did. That's another whole chapter, or stream. So, I had a background -- early on because of my boyfriend in high school was Episcopal, I joined that church and it fit me perfectly because before that I had tried the Roman church and, um -- because my aunt was, who had been Quaker joined the Roman church and she -- I thought that was beautiful and all that was interesting. So, I took instructions for a while. The most remarkable thing was the priest was so 21:00drop-dead gorgeous. I had to take instructions. But when I joined the Episcopal church, it made a lot more sense. It was much more comfortable and so I stayed with that. And when I was in the army, I was with the Episcopal priest and did that. When I went to San Francisco, I dropped pretty much a lot of that. Only occasionally would I go do grace or something like that. Somewhere in that process I ran into some gay men who were doing some kind of church thing that was Eastern. I said, "Well, that's interesting." And they said, "Oh, we're going to have a synod. You've got to come." A synod? A synod is like a -- anyway, you know, this sounds strange but anyway. So, I did. And it is a long, involved story. I'll spare you those -- but it was a process that introduced me to the 22:00Church of the East. They were the Chaldeans but the Chaldeans of the Uniats of the Nestorians who are really Church of the East. And that's what I was really attracted to. And so I studied Aramaic and we formed a religious society, the [kristo matomat?], is the society of Saint Thomas. I collected books -- I'm always collecting something -- and I was the librarian and so I had all these incredible books. I remember we had a bishop visit one time from India and he was very taken with the library and, so, I took that as a great compliment. And while we were there -- and I used to go often to the Church of the East's [cubana?] mass -- it was out in the avenues and the patriarch of that church was 23:00in exile from Iraq -- see, the seat is near Baghdad, [Saleses Hestafan?], near Baghdad -- and he was murdered because he scandalized everybody by marrying a cousin much younger and they murdered him. They killed him. He was just a big to-do. So they had a big funeral at Grace Cathedral and I was able to offer a book in Aramaic for them for the funeral service and so Father Charles and I here in our [shesta?] jubbas come right along behind the patriarchy.

ABBOTT: Wow.

LAMBE: So, that was all kind of interesting.

ABBOTT: Very interesting. So, your group was allied with his group in some ways? Their traditions were similar?

LAMBE: Well, yes. But by adoption and not by canonical lineage. Our canonical lineage was the old Catholics. So my orders 24:00were all Catholic. I was ordained in that whole process.

ABBOTT: So explain that a little bit. How does that -- how does the old Catholic trace its lineage back?

LAMBE: This is, well, they go -- they're valid. I mean, they go way back to the -- the irony is that the See of Utrecht took exception to an edict from Rome that they only use Latin. They wanted to use the vernacular. Nowadays, the old Catholics are using the Latin and everybody else have switched. It's all kind of a fraternal fuss. But it was an avenue, you have to kind of follow these trails and it brought me to the Church of the East, which I have the highest respect for. And that's what I really like because it was the real thing -- incredible 25:00history. Oldest Christians in the world and I could go on for hours about that but I will spare you that.

ABBOTT: Okay, well, it's just I wanted to get a little more information about what it was and how it was connected because it wasn't just a made-up thing? It was, you know, it came out of a tradition?

LAMBE: It -- our introduction was sort of made-up but it drew me to what was real and that's what I associated with later on. And, so, the society -- it fell apart. It was only two of us left, me and Father Charles. And I still have some of the artifacts from that.

ABBOTT: I remember you had them at Running Water.

LAMBE: Yes. I still have the chapel hangings at the church.

ABBOTT: So you're the last member, right?

LAMBE: Yes, I am the last of everything. I'm the last of my family.

26:00

ABBOTT: The last Nestorian.

LAMBE: Well, you know, that's who ISIS is killing now. It's these people. These are the Christians of Iraq.

ABBOTT: I see.

LAMBE: And they're being slaughtered. And I'm fearful that they're going to lose a lot of their books and relics and treasures. But they've been through it before. [Set with Tremerlane?] and all, but there's no reason they have to go through it again.

ABBOTT: Right.

LAMBE: But that's another story.

ABBOTT: So, so now we've talked about your music and your outdoor stuff and your spiritual stuff in those years in San Francisco. What else would you say characterized that time for you?

LAMBE: Well, another spiritual angle was, I got into -- I forget what they 27:00called it -- mind dynamics or something. My lover and I took the course that later became -- oh, what is his name? Gary some? He made it very popular, anyway, but the original was an Episcopal priest that organized mind dynamics, which was a visualization process for healing. And made a lot of sense to me. And we were kind of into that and then that's when I got into reading about Edgar Cayce and all of that. And so I got involved with all those, the society for that. And so we did some of that kind of spiritual stuff in addition to the other stuff. They were not really connected but it was a different track. And so when I -- to jump ahead a little bit -- when I eventually moved from San 28:00Francisco to North Carolina, one of the first things I did was to go to a conference at Virginia Beach for Edgar Cayce and it was wonderful. It was a great program and I always felt really comfortable with that whole thing. The meditations as well as all the history of the society. Um, all right.

ABBOTT: And the readings?

LAMBE: Yeah, the readings, which covered not just medical things but also philosophy of, you know, like Jesus having brothers and sisters and so forth. It gives you a little more detail about stuff.

ABBOTT: So you mentioned a lover in San Francisco. Was this a longtime relationship?

LAMBE: Well, we were together about seven years, I guess. It was someone I met at the beach and to my -- you know, I said, "Oh, you should call me sometime or 29:00something." Couple days later he just showed up with a cardboard box and, "Well, I'm here." He just moved in. and it was great. We had a lot of fun. He was quite a character and it would have gone on except we actually kind of grew apart. He was interested in Chinese cooking and I always ended up doing the dishes. I was interested in sailing and he could not get on the boat. You know, so, we just kind of grew apart.

ABBOTT: What was his name?

LAMBE: Jeff.

ABBOTT: Jeff. And it --

LAMBE: Actually, well, anyway.

ABBOTT: Is he still around?

LAMBE: He is. He's in Reno.

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: His real name is Hugh, but his last name is [Jeffcoat?] but everybody calls him Jeff.

ABBOTT: All right.

LAMBE: We communicate every now and then. We just don't have a lot to 30:00communicate about.

ABBOTT: Well, I under-- that happens people come together and they grow apart.

LAMBE: But those were great years. We have lots of stories.

ABBOTT: Yes, yes. And as you say, those were the halcyon years. Those were the years where many people were migrating to San Francisco because it was a much more open and permissive place.

LAMBE: It was. Right. And that was part of -- it was important for me. It was a personal growth issue and I keep telling people I could not have gotten from Chapel Hill to Asheville without first having gone to San Francisco. In the sense of what I'm doing now. You know, physically (unintelligible), but I'm talking about my who I am and what I'm doing and all that spiritual growth. Just growth. Personal growth.

ABBOTT: Um --

31:00

LAMBE: And those years were, you know, that was the flower children --

ABBOTT: Yes, summer of love?

LAMBE: Yes, and all the pot and everything. You know, interesting enough, I never got into much of that because I have asthma so I don't smoke. I had some bridge friends that would make brownies and we had some fun times. But it was, oh, this whole, it was everywhere, you know. The most I got was the long hair and beads and beard (laughs).

ABBOTT: Okay, so, you looked the part but didn't --

LAMBE: Not completely. I always reserved something.

ABBOTT: Okay, okay.

LAMBE: But those were -- and I was there for the Milk, the Moscone murder. I have a picture somewhere, I'll show you, of when I worked on the Martin Luther King festival -- part of the Society of Saint Thomas with the San Francisco 32:00Council of Churches. They had Martin Luther King festival at People's Temple. So I worked on that committee with Moscone and Jim Jones in the background.

ABBOTT: Oh my.

LAMBE: Yeah, I feel like Forrest Gump sometimes. I was there.

ABBOTT: That you were just placed in different places.

LAMBE: Oh yes, I -- so, yeah, but those were incredible years. And, uh, but the flower children was just amazing and wonderful. And the political issues with Harvey Milk was great.

ABBOTT: What do you remember about the Milk-Moscone assassination? Do you remember where you were?

LAMBE: Yes, I was -- oddly enough, I -- at that point I was working, I had a truck route filling up Coke machines and cigars and I don't what you call it -- catering-type truck thing. And I had a route, and I was coming back and on the 33:00radio I could hear about the riots and everything. And I decided that I would forgo that and go. I went straight home and then I got it on television and everything. But that was happening as I was driving home from work.

ABBOTT: Wow.

LAMBE: Yeah.

ABBOTT: At a certain point, you decided to leave San Francisco. What, why was that?

LAMBE: That's a good question and I'm not sure I have a good answer. I think it was intuitive. And I got to the point where I had done everything in the scene everybody had all just -- been there fifteen years. And never had thought of leaving. So I think I surprised myself more than anyone else, but I got tired of waiting for the proverbial earthquake. Where will I stand at the earthquake? I 34:00got tired of that and I just felt like it was time for something. What I wanted to do was to travel to Europe. I said, "I just need that experience and I know I can't afford it to just visit. I'm going to have to go there." And so I said -- on the way, that's when I got introduced to RFD [through Stella?], a countertenor. Music, again. And, so, I read that. And they had had the first gathering covered. I said, "Oh, that might be interesting." And, so, on my kind of list of things to do was the conferences -- Virginia Beach, Edgar Cayce Foundation. And then I went down the Outer Banks, which I had not visited in many, many years. And what a contrast at a conference with all these people and 35:00then all of a sudden you're on this solitude banks. And then I knew about the Running Water. So I had a friend -- we had bought a -- an old college friend of mine -- we had bought a house in San Francisco. Can you believe this? For seventeen thousand dollars.

ABBOTT: Oh my.

LAMBE: It was a redwood Victorian. It was just poorly located but we changed that around and we sold that for about fifty thousand. We thought, oh, we're making money. But I bet it's two million dollars now.

ABBOTT: I bet it is.

LAMBE: Oh, god. But anyway, he moved back to North Carolina before me and he said -- he had a big house in Mocksville. He said, "You can bring your stuff and store it there." So I can across the country with a little trailer loaded down with chandeliers and carpets (laughs) and all kind -- it was like Steinbeck going east instead of west. And so I put all my records and books there. I had 36:00books and records. I had shipped those and I carried all this other stuff. Dropped that, then I went to the conference at the beach. And I want to go to Running Water to a gathering. And I vaguely had to figure out how to get there. But I'll never forget here I am in my -- I think I just had a t-shirt and jeans or something. Found my way down. I came down and Claire was on the porch. Said, "Yep, you're right. This is it." (laughs) So, it was a magical experience and that was -- that just struck a chord. And I had been looking for years for property, you know, to go back to the land. That was part of that whole effort 37:00and that was part of what RFD is sort of about. And I had a friend that I had met in San Francisco that was also looking. So we thought we would. He said, "I'll come back and we'll look at it together." But in the meantime, I talked to Michael Wilson about it. I said, "Can I come back?" You know, after the gathering just to get a feel for it, before I, you know, make this decision. He said, "Oh, sure." And he just showed me how to get into the house. So I had not been there an hour piddling around maybe doing a little side thing with the (unintelligible). And down the road, comes Peter, Rocky, and John and Sam from Chapel Hill. They were looking for -- they had heard it was for sale because Sam had gone to the gatherings before. And so we hit it off right away because 38:00Cayce's connection, natural foods and all that stuff. So we ended up forming a collective and buying the place -- that went on all that summer.

ABBOTT: And that's when you began to reside there?

LAMBE: Yes. Well, yes and no. Yes, we did. We took possession, I guess it was that summer.

ABBOTT: So, the summer of seventy-nine?

LAMBE: But we not legally until the gathering. The September gathering. We had worked all summer on the logistics of buying it. The whole all that deed stuff. And then we took possession at the gathering.

ABBOTT: Do you remember how much you bought it for?

LAMBE: I think it was something like twenty thousand. Something like that.

ABBOTT: And how much acreage was it?

LAMBE: It's seventeen acres. But it was not flat land.

ABBOTT: No, it wasn't.

39:00

LAMBE: It was lots of character.

ABBOTT: But there was nothing flat about it.

LAMBE: No, and it's called Running Water now because we had running water -- which we did -- but it's because of all the streams. There's two or three streams and springs on the property. So, it had lots of negative ions that were very healing.

ABBOTT: I remember that. I remember it being, you know , you just --

LAMBE: Soothing.

ABBOTT: After a while, it was just kind of --

LAMBE: And, you know, we had names for everything. So, there was a Glenn Ford and Gertrude Stein and (laughs). And it was -- there's a map somewhere. I don't know where it is. It has all those names.

ABBOTT: So, it was a -- it was, I think, the first gathering was in June of seventy-eight. So by --

LAMBE: This was seventy-nine.

ABBOTT: By June of seventy-nine.

LAMBE: So, my first gathering was June of seventy-nine and then we took 40:00possession of it in September of seventy-nine.

ABBOTT: Of seventy-nine. Okay, and --

LAMBE: And then we stayed there for a while and then we packed up and went to Florida like everybody else does to make money. That's another story. And so we -- what happened eventually -- we never made a whole lot of money but I think Rocky and Peter did better with their cooking and waitering. I worked for the telephone company. Getting up at four o'clock in the morning and bicycle to it. I mean, it was cold. But what was interesting about that, I could go to the Y and swim and I had the whole afternoon. My problem was the discipline to get to bed in time to get up at --

ABBOTT: Four o'clock in the morning.

LAMBE: About three o'clock, really. As everybody else was coming home from the bars.

ABBOTT: Okay, where? Y'all were in Florida?

LAMBE: We were in Tampa.

ABBOTT: Tampa, okay.

41:00

LAMBE: We did that for one year. It was enough.

ABBOTT: So, after that --

LAMBE: Then we were always there.

ABBOTT: You were always there. And how long did Peter and Rocky stay?

LAMBE: That's a -- they stayed there most of the time but they would come and go for different things. And I think the last, let's see -- eighty-eight, around eighty-five or so they kind of moved out. But none of -- we couldn't buy -- no one of us could buy each other out. So what we did was we opened up the -- we had a -- Stepping Stone was the stock company. That was the vehicle we used to own the property.

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: And it was this so we had unequal shares. Rocky, Peter and I were about the equal but John didn't have much to put in. So we had to set it up as a shared thing that based on a certain, I don't know. So, that, anyway, what 42:00happened is we opened it up for the brothers to buy into to pay off Peter and Rocky.

ABBOTT: Right, I remember that.

LAMBE: And so you got a share. And when we sold the property, we redeemed the ones we could find that were still living. There were some that had just disappeared. But I remember us all paying those back.

ABBOTT: Wow. So, talk a little bit about your, you know, experience with the, you know, the first gatherings and what it was like to live there and how you perceived people coming and going.

LAMBE: You know, um, it was again a synergy in my life around spiritualness and 43:00gay issues but it a -- most of gay life especially in San Francisco -- it was not spiritual. It was more just carnal. And then I had this other stream of spirituality and this sort of was a combination of that. And so it brought in to me a feeling of spirituality around my sexuality and also for masculinity, too. Being a gay male -- what is the spirit of, what is the zeitgeist of that? What is the spirit of that rather than just the actions, you know? So, there was a -- then there was a I think a very sincere caring that we all shared with each 44:00other. And a lot of that was new to most of us because we just hadn't experienced that anywhere else.

ABBOTT: Right, right. Absolutely. I remember that part.

LAMBE: And so then -- and then the circles. You see where we made special attention -- no one would be left out. Everyone was included and we all shared whatever we could, you know. And some were short and some were long but that's because we all had different things to share. Or we had different things to experi -- uh, express. So, having a tolerance about that.

ABBOTT: Um-hm, that's something good.

LAMBE: And these were -- and this was those -- the years, I remember seventy-nine was when we -- I think that's right. Yeah. Seventy-nine we took 45:00possession. I think it was that year that they had the conference in Virginia Beach that we went to. And I think it was like the next year they had the conference in Colorado -- the gathering in Colorado.

ABBOTT: Oh, the --

LAMBE: Which was national.

ABBOTT: The national gathering.

LAMBE: The national gathering.

ABBOTT: Well, the first one was in the Arizona desert.

LAMBE: Yeah, but that's --

ABBOTT: And then it was in New Mexico.

LAMBE: Right.

ABBOTT: And then it was in Colorado. Because I went to the New Mexico one, but I didn't go

to the Colorado one.

LAMBE: Now, see, just the opposite. And I forget exactly when it was but it was -- it was the most magical thing I've ever experienced, you know. I mean, the stars were in alignment and so that was truly amazing. And then, you know, somewhere in that whole process I was involved with this southeast conference for gays and lesbians.

ABBOTT: Right.

LAMBE: And so I was on that board. And so I was going to Atlanta and different 46:00places, New Orleans. In fact, the funny thing was I think there were four Rons on that board.

ABBOTT: Wow.

LAMBE: (laughs) So, we had to clarify which Ron you were talking about.

ABBOTT: Well, I remember we had faerie gatherings in New Orleans. We had winter gatherings there.

LAMBE: Yes, (unintelligible).

ABBOTT: And, uh, I have a picture of you wearing a drum major's hat. You know (laughs).

LAMBE: Well I have a picture of me with a purple veil that I have that I wore again at the top of the mountain -- and I looked like something death warmed over in New Orleans -- but at the mountain I was just (laughs). I said, "Oh, what a difference altitude makes."

ABBOTT: Yes, yes. Well, it was a time when we had lots of gatherings --

LAMBE: We did. Because we --

ABBOTT: We had Atlanta gatherings and then Short Mountain started up and, um, but those early gatherings at Running Water, I think, for me were just -- I 47:00mean, if I can think of something that really turned my life around and, you know, I didn't know at the time that it would give me the strength to get through what was coming next.

LAMBE: Yep. Ah -- yes.

ABBOTT: But it did.

LAMBE: And I think that's why we're drawn to things -- to give us that strength, if you will. But the ammunition or the -- no, that's a bad analogy -- the muscle.

ABBOTT: The energy.

LAMBE: But that's, you know, that's more kind. That's kinder. Uh, but to deal with things -- uh moxie, if you will. But, uh, and I think we just have to kind of go with the universe pulling us those ways. So, part of my, I think, journey 48:00from San Francisco was listening to that. I had no idea why I was doing that.

ABBOTT: Right, right.

LAMBE: But I trusted that I just -- oh, it seemed --

ABBOTT: There was something that pulled you there.

LAMBE: I think I'm still doing that (laughs).

ABBOTT: Well you learned a long time ago that when in doubt just --

LAMBE: Let it be.

ABBOTT: Let it be. The call will come from one direction or another and you don't necessarily have to know where you're going.

LAMBE: No, because we can't know everything that's coming.

ABBOTT: Well, we can't know the future. We make that up out of the past.

LAMBE: Right.

ABBOTT: And if you only allow that to be --

LAMBE: You can only extrapolate from the past.

ABBOTT: Yeah, then you're just going to repeat your history over and over again, which is boring.

LAMBE: Well, no, it's not boring but it needs something else. It doesn't need to be repeated.

ABBOTT: Right, it's already happened.

LAMBE: Yes, been there done that.

ABBOTT: Well, those years were -- I mean, it felt like we were making things up 49:00as we went. We really had no --

LAMBE: There was no --

ABBOTT: Prototype.

LAMBE: There was no boilerplate. And that made it more alive, I think. And, uh, and just great memories of that. And you know, I sometimes think that maybe it was almost too delicate to survive long. And you notice a lot of times halcyon things, I keep -- there's that word, again -- great opportunities don't always last very long. Sometimes they just go through -- I don't know.

ABBOTT: Well, I think --

LAMBE: Ebb and flow. And, so, I think what we did is we actually transformed it. So, when Rocky and Peter left Running Water and then I finally got a job (laughs) working for an environmental organization -- which is another whole 50:00story working with the food co-ops and all that. [Loafer's Glory?] -- I love that. Um, I was brought to Asheville and I was at a quandary of what to do with Running Water and RFD. And I had someone lined up to take over RFD -- had all these -- oh, he was so enthusiastic about it. But it turned out to be a bad, bad, bad situation. He was immature and he went through all the savings we had to try and find a boyfriend, and almost ruined the magazine. So, we ended -- but thank God Short Mountain took it over -- and they did. They did. That saved that. And then for Running Water, there was a couple of guys that came to visit, they were all excited about staying there and they all -- just wonderful 51:00(unintelligible). Then they had a -- they were a couple of knock-down drag-out fights and that should have been my clue. But I'll give it a try. That did not work. He -- oh I forget his name now, maybe that a good thing.

ABBOTT: You didn't call the "evil fairy"?

LAMBE: Yes. (laughter) The -- the tainted fairy. Uh, but around him just aggravated the neighbors. I had spent y-- all that time, you know, working with the neighbors and it saved us a many a time.

ABBOTT: Well --

LAMBE: I've told you this story.

ABBOTT: Well, Running Water was in the middle of a very conservative area. It was before yuppies had discovered the mountains or artists had discovered the 52:00mountains and so almost of the neighbors were people who had been in that area for generations and had very different values.

LAMBE: They did. But they had some values that -- worked for us and one was "let it be" uh, "you mind your business, I'll mind mine." That's was kind of -- advantage for us. And then I went around -- Rocky and Peter were not very -- (laughs) sociable. (Laughs) You know how (laughs). But I went around and I (unintelligible) and I'd go sit on the porch and would just talk about the weather and when to plant corn and all kinds of stuff like that. So they knew me as a person not as a character. And so that helped greatly. Now, you know the story about old Howard. He used to live up this --

ABBOTT: Go ahead and tell it. Tell it for posterity.

LAMBE: For posterity (laughs). Well, we had this mountain man, Howard. One of 53:00the Ledfords. There were a hundred Ledfords around us and he was staying at his brother's or cousin's house which was otherwise vacant but he would go down for meals to another relative's and the shortcut was through Running Water and had asked very carefully for permission to do that. I said -- we said "Oh, no problem at all," because that was an old road bed, you know --

ABBOTT: Mm hm.

LAMBE: And it was a shortcut right to the house. And he would come down, uh, and really not bother anybody. Just -- just use that. But one time we came down when we had a gathering and some boys had put up mattress over the bridge over Ancreck (?) (laughs). They were just having a little time there. He just -- he said, "Well I'm going to avoid the crowd, I'm going to" -- he would cut through 54:00the woods. There came across these boys (laughs). They looked at him, he looked down and said "You boys taking a rest?" (laughter) And, uh, freaked them out, but he was fine. He was having fun with them.

ABBOTT: Mm hm.

LAMBE: And I remember he died not long after that. I went to the funeral and a lot of the relatives came up to me and says "Oh, Howard said the nicest things about you boys. You fixed the place up and made it shining." (laughs). The values that they had, you know and -- so-- anyway, this guy coming into -- had none of that social skills at all and came from New York. It was a disaster. And so the -- the energy at Running Water was painful. Painful. We couldn't stand it 55:00and so we decided we just had to sell it.

ABBOTT: Well, Short Mountain had been in existence for a number of years by that time and it was much more -- there were two things. It was much more isolated, it had much more land around it and you could live there year round.

LAMBE: Yes. Right.

ABBOTT: You know and Running Water was a hard, hard place to live in the winter.

LAMBE: Yes. Oh I know (laughs). I did it.

ABBOT: You did it, and I remember that the memorial grove moved -- when the --

LAMBE: Yes.

ABBOTT: When Running Water was sold, the memorial grove where there were stones to brothers who had --

LAMBE: Yes.

ABBOTT: Died. You know that was all moved. (Unintelligible)

LAMBE: Yeah, Michael Mason did a lot of those. Yeah.

ABBOTT: Beautiful pieces that are still over there.

LAMBE: I have a couple pieces of Michael right there in my house.

ABBOTT: Okay. We'll look at those.

LAMBE: Yeah.

56:00

ABBOTT: Well, let's talk about the RFD part.

LAMBE: Okay. Well again, that was another -- uh -- stream. I was introduced as I said in San Francisco and we bought Running Water and at that point Running -- RFD was produced in different collectives and different places, [Lasses?], Short Mountain or God knows where. And it was a -- I -- a formula for survival. But it also added a lot of color to it and so, when (laughs) at some point, we decided to take it on. Everybody assumed that we were going to take it on. We had not even though about it. But it became -- it was the logical thing to happen and took a little convincing sometimes with Rocky, Peter and John. Now John was 57:00pretty cool with it. But John was itinerant, he would come and go. Rocky, Peter and I were always there. Rocky was not enthusiastic but Peter was -- he said "let's do that." So we agreed to do that and I forget exactly -- it was in the early eighties (unintelligible). I have the first Running Water issues that -- put them -- because uh -- Jones did the graphic I think -- no it was King Thackston did the graphic of the globe, the world (?) of--

ABBOTT: Running Water.

LAMBE: Of Running Water. Yes. (laughs) It's a big handsy moon.

ABBOTT: Right. There's a beaut-- that's a beautiful, beautiful drawing that King did.

LAMBE: Right. Yeah it's -- I love that. That's where we took it over. And I remember -- there is a picture of me somewhere -- we just had a typewriter. 58:00That's all we had and we -- we did clip art and we just had the most fun with the things we didn't print (laughs) because -- oh wouldn't it be funny to do this and that, oh better not. But we basically typed everything and put them in galleys and took them to the printer and got a printer in Burnsville that printed it like that, so. It was a mailed from Bakersville with permit number one.

ABBOTT: All right.

LAMBE: And of course they had to get a copy. We later found out the postmaster was family and just loved the magazine. (laughter)

ABBOTT: Oh that was a happy coincidence.

LAMBE: Yes yes, it could have been disastrous.

ABBOTT: So how many years did you work as the editor?

LAMBE: Well let's see, that would be about eight years, I guess. Yeah.

59:00

ABBOTT: So that was a nice long stretch of --

LAMBE: Yeah.

ABBOTT: Many issues were produced under your guidance.

LAMBE: Yes, and they varied greatly (laughs).

ABBOTT: Always, always.

LAMBE: Yes. But you know my sense of organization again -- that's who we organize the departments. See, we said we just -- we -- how are we going to do all of this and we have all this talent out there that they could help but they can't come here so we decided to have department heads like poetry -- you did poetry, and the kitchen queen, brothers behind bars and all those things that are still going on.

ABBOTT: Mm hm, mm hm.

LAMBE: Yeah, yeah. So that worked really well and the -- we would put everything together and be the assembly factory. And it -- apothecary, you know, we did all that with Jerry Stamps and Jim Long.

ABBOTT: We, we did what we could do and I think that when you look back at it 60:00now as a cultural document, you know, it's a fascinating thing and the fact that it's over forty years old and still in publication --

LAMBE: It's amazing! It is. And I -- see -- I'm -- one of my (laughs). You know, I sometimes wonder what I'm thinking. I would just go out to these literary conferences and have a booth with RFD and I got in to see -- to join the [CCML?] and it got into libraries. It's a cultural thing and it is. It really is and it still is.

ABBOTT: I believe that it's the oldest continuously published gay men's publication in the world.

LAMBE: I think it is. Yeah.

ABBOTT: And you know --

LAMBE: And it's -- it's

ABBOTT: It's never had a paid employee (laughter) and its always been -- no one 61:00has ever been paid for their writing in it.

LAMBE: That's right.

ABBOTT: There aren't any.

LAMBE: Yes. It's a reader, written journal. We -- we lived on RFD basically. I think we took, for the whole production and everything, four -- four hundred a year. I don't know, but it was a couple hundred a month. And we lived asset -- four hundred -- so we -- a couple hundred a month. We lived on that and then that -- then the gatherings paid the taxes. That's how we lived at Running Water.

ABBOTT: Wow.

LAMBE: We grew the food and everything and joined the food co-op. Our biggest expense was the truck. Gas, taxes, and insurance.

ABBOTT: So you all lived on what?

LAMBE: Nothing.

ABBOTT: Two thousand dollars a year maybe?

LAMBE: That's it. Yeah.

ABBOTT: Maybe and it was only three people --

LAMBE: And more than that because we had visitors (laughter). Which is another 62:00story. Oh it was some of my -- we had -- we had great visitors. But the problem we had was that almost everybody that came, with a few exceptions, was in need socially or emotionally, or financially (laughs) and we were not in a positon to -- we were living on the edge ourselves. So it didn't take much to really cause tensions, so we had kind of mixed experience with that. Now some were kind of longer term, like Michael Mason, Dwight [Wrightstein?], there's [Howard Bell?], remember Bell, uh, some stayed for a year or more. Yeah. And everyone chipped in and everyone helped. It was the cash flow was the problem.

ABBOTT: Yeah.

LAMBE. Yeah.

ABBOTT: Talk a little bit about Michael Mason.

63:00

LAMBE: Oh, one of my favorite people. He was -- he was -- amazing poet. He could just -- he was -- he was a wordsmith that could take any, just a couple things and he played with words all the time and he would just something, he would say -- that he would repeat it with some other kind of rhyme or something and -- and he was gorgeous and very physical. But he loved Running Water and he would come pitch his tent and stay there and write stuff and he was big promoter of RFD of course.

ABBOTT: Well, he was a stonemason too. I mean he sort of to--

LAMBE: He was. Well--

ABBOTT: He sort of took his name and said "Mason" and the he decided that he was going to do --

64:00

LAMBE: Do masonry.

ABBOTT: Masonry and carve --

LAMBE: Well most of what he did was -- it is not -- he didn't -- do carving as much as he did etching.

ABBOTT: Etching.

LAMBE: He wrote things on stone.

ABBOTT: Yes.

LAMBE: Yeah. He didn't -- he wasn't a real stonemason, but he made it his take on masonry and it was great.

ABBOTT: Some of that is still at the -- in the memorial gro -- garden at Short Mountain and you said you had some, so.

LAMBE: And then he had -- remember he was -- in New York for a while too, you know.

ABBOTT: Right.

LAMBE: I visited him up there. Yeah.

ABBOTT: He was one of the most extraordinary, you know, of the creatures to --

LAMBE: Vibrant is the word I'd use --

ABBOTT: To pass through. Yes.

LAMBE: He just full of vitality and you never knew what he was going to say.

ABBOTT: That's true.

LAMBE: Always alive, you know, and --

65:00

ABBOTT: And often singing. I remember --

LAMBE: Yeah.

ABBOTT: He sang almost as much as he spoke (laughs).

LAMBE: (laughs) And when he had a dislike, you'd knew it. Ahh, he did not his feelings (laughs).

ABBOTT: He was from around there, wasn't he?

LAMBE: Yeah, he lived --

ABBOTT: I mean close by.

LAMBE: Just west of here, near Brevard.

ABBOTT: Right.

LAMBE: But further out. From Brevard -- it's -- oh I forget the name of the community. I went to the funeral services. It's a little church on a hill.

ABBOTT: Is he buried there?

LAMBE: I think so.

ABBOTT: Wow.

LAMBE: (inaudible)

ABBOTT: It would be interesting to go there and do a pilgrimage for him.

LAMBE: Yeah, we should. Yeah.

ABBOTT: We really should because to find the place and I bet you something will happen. (laughter) You know he lived in the Montford House with Michael Wilson --

LAMBE: That's -- I did too.

ABBOTT: Right.

LAMBE: When I first came, before I bought this house, I stayed there. And then I also stayed with John Ferguson.

66:00

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: In Montford. Yeah.

ABBOTT: And the lore is that the night he died in Florida, the Montford house burned down.

LAMBE: Well -- you know it did burn donw but I did not connect it.

ABBOTT: Yeah.

LAMBE: That's interesting and I'm surprised.

ABBOTT: It was the night he died.

LAMBE: I'm not surprised. I never did get my chandelier. I left it -- (laughs) I came back with two chandeliers from San Francisco, but I lent one to my Mike Wilson, I never got it back. It's all right. I didn't need it.

ABBOTT: I'm going to ask him if he's still got it. (Lambe laughs) "Ron Lambe wants his chandelier back." (laughs)

LAMBE: Where would I put it?

ABBOTT: Right up there.

LAMBE: Well, I guess I could.

ABBOT: So --

LAMBE: It was the chandelier I had in the chapel actually.

ABBOTT: Yes, okay. Okay. So the Running Water, RFD years were --

LAMBE: Creative.

ABBOTT: Creative and challenging because of the -- I mean you were poor.

67:00

LAMBE: We were.

ABBOTT: You know.

LAMBE: I still am! (laughter) Despite appearances, I tell people I live in opulent poverty.

ABBOTT: It's the best kind of poverty.

LAMBE: Yes. If you're going to live in poverty, might as well (inaudible). Well, if I sold everything, you know, I'd be all right but, my cash flow is still in -- twenty-one thousand. I don't think I've ever made more than twenty-five thousand a year.

ABBOTT: Wow.

LAMBE: Ever. In my life. So, you know, I just --

ABBOTT: But you have a life full of art and music and friends and--

LAMBE: Yeah.

ABBOTT: You know, you are a wealthy man.

LAMBE: Oh I -- oh I am. I consider myself very rich in that regard. It just not -- just not cash.

And what is cash for but to buy things.

ABBOTT: Well to keep things up, to fix things. That's sort of how I look at it.

LAMBE: Yeah.

ABBOTT: As long as I've got enough --

LAMBE: It's enabling.

ABBOTT: To maintain.

LAMBE Yeah. To maintain.

ABBOTT: Then I'm okay.

LAMBE: So I have no complaints.

68:00

ABBOTT: So you got involved in politics.

LAMBE: I did.

ABBOTT: Now that was sort of your road out of Running Water is you became involved in --

LAMBE: Well basically --

ABBOTT: Sort of local land politics.

LAMBE: Well basically through my environmental work. See I worked for the -- that's what brought me from Asheville from Running Water was working with the Western North Carolina Alliance. It was getting organized and we were facing several threats in Western North Carolina and one was extensive clear-cutting by the National Forest and where I was living in Mitchell County and around there, full of national forests and but -- those of us who were in the co-op basically and Rocky and Peter too, to some degree took great offense at this. So, there was -- I was right there at the beginning forming this organization called the Western North Carolina Alliance which was a grassroots environmental group and 69:00we formed a chapter in Mitchell County and a lot of people from Penland and all that was involved. I just got more active with that and next thing I knew, they had this steering committee in All Souls, met in All Souls Asheville got involved with that and the next thing I knew I was on a committee for this and a committee for that. And I was hired. I was on the steering committee first, and -- but then I was hired to do the newsletter and some other stuff and I tried for a year to have an office in Spruce Pine which is near -- it's between Running Water and that just didn't go -- so it's -- it just had to come to Asheville and that's where we met, that's where the center of all this was and that's what brought me here. Now through all that work, but -- and then -- let 70:00me just take a minute with the -- the clear cutting was only one of the streams of problems that we had to fight, and we had a huge effort. I mean it was -- renowned, our effort to get -- we had like, ten thousand names on a petition that we wrapped around the c-- (laughs) the federal building in protest to the clear cutting. So we had a big rally and all that, big visibility. At the same time, Sandy Mush up here was designated as a possible repository for nuclear waste. I can't imagine anything more sacrilegious. So, got involved with the nuclear waste repository for a Christian repository project and it took me all 71:00over the country. I remember going down to Texas to a meeting to fight the repository project there and making a speech about (unintelligible). Anyway, it just kept me going in a lot of public stuff that I said "Well, maybe I can be of use on the city council" and so I decided to run for city council. And said, well -- so remembered as a matter of fact -- this is the interesting thing that connects. I didn't think about this before. My neighbor across the street was a -- someone that had worked for the water department and one of my programs environmentally was called -- uh -- [Mesa?] There was a summit, you know, an environmental summit. We had a little -- we called it a Mesa because it was just a midterm thing that we just touched on some stuff -- and one of the things we 72:00wanted to -- I had on the program to discuss -- and I was organizing all this, was the water department and what was planned. Well Bill DeBruhl used to work for the water department and they had fired him or something and so there was bad blood but he knew where everything was and he knew everything. So, I invited him to speak and right away the water department was very excited about this conference. So I said "What did he -- " (laughs) (inaudible). They were scared of what he would say and he never forget that. He thought that was a great opportunity to for him express some stuff. Now he did this very right. He did not accuse anybody of anything but he kind of out -- laid out of certain things 73:00that just needed to be said. Because you know, we had a -- best water in t-- it was big effort to take water of the French Broad. We had a big campaign and that's why I guess that's I got some of my moxie for political work. I was on the committee to stop that, the -- that (bond) issue. It was called YUK (?) to take the water out of the French Broad because they needed water for their sources. So then they turned around and they took out some of the offending parts of that bond issue and they invited me to be on that committee (laughs). Because they community said (laughs) and some of our community people got on the committee. Ahh, but anyway, it was me that came out with the name actually. I said you got to have to fix it first and then click, people loved that because 74:00it wasn't exactly dead on what they were sa-- were doing, but the point is that people said "yes, fix it first" (laughs) you know, and so that first bond issue failed by two to one and the second bond issue passed two to one so I think I have an aura (laughs) (unintelligible) hardly exaggerated. But that -- and so -- all that kind of stuff with the environmental stuff and all that stuff and so I decided well, maybe I could just be on the city council and you know, participate then. I remember talking to Bill DeBruhl about this and we had a meeting. I said there were two things, "I'm not from around here" (laughs) and "I'm active in gay politics" because you know I was involved with the first gay 75:00march in Asheville. The ministers jump up and down. They were livid. City council could not believe how irate these people were, with the effrontery of these people to you know march up in our streets. Anyway that whole -- all of that worked too -- then the gay chorus. I was active I guess. Anyway, so I said I'd run for city (unintelligible murmuring) and Bill DeBruhl, who by the way was a mason. Getting a theme here.

ABBOTT: Mhmm. Okay.

LAMBE: Said "Oh, that's not going to be a problem." And he -- cause-- he was a good ol' boy from way back and he knew everybody, he greased wheels. So, while I did not win, I placed well to the astonishment to a lot of the people. And then 76:00I was appointed to transit commission and I served on that for that ten years.

ABBOTT: Wow.

LAMBE: I was eventually the chairman. I've got plaques everywhere. (laughter) You know, I've got a lot of stuff because that was a part of my campaign. I said if I was going to run on city council, I not going to run on as -- on a gay ticket, I just happen to be gay. But I'm going to run on a platform that involved public transit and all kinds of things but public transit was one of my main things. So we did -- when I was there we got new buses, we got a transit authority, I mean a new building, we go bicycle racks on the buses and all new signs, scheduled signs. All these things were just lying there not being done so we made it a much more user friendly --

ABBOTT: System.

LAMBE: Program. Yeah and it's still one of the best in the region.

ABBOTT: Wow. Wow.

LAMBE: So I feel good about that.

77:00

ABBOTT: So that's sort of where all your political stuff led you.

LAMBE: Well -- well what happened was my stepfather died and mother was sick and I had to take care of my mother and she was in Greensboro. She had fallen and I just could not do any more than I had done -- was doing so I didn't pursue didn't pursue the political career. It's just as well, I've gotten many other things to do.

ABBOTT: How long ago did your mother die?

LAMBE: It's almost ten years now I guess.

ABBOTT: And how old was she?

LAMBE: She was ninety, ninety or ninety-one. Yeah.

ABBOTT: Okay. So she lived a long life.

LAMBE: Oh yes, she has sisters to live a hundred. They had funny names. They had funny names, they were Quakers, you know. One sister was Fetney (?), Velma 78:00Hyacinth, they all had -- Myrtle. They all had flower names.

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: Just about. Well mothers was Capelia[?] Beatrice. That was -- there was flowers there. (laughs). I had never seen Capelia anywhere else.

ABBOTT: I had never heard the name Capelia.

LAMBE: And you don't see Parrell very often either.

ABBOTT: No. no. Well, so the-- perhaps most current part of your -- well there are two things that I'm curious about in your current incarnation. You -- you seem to --

LAMBE: Current chapter in my life. (laughs)

ABBOTT: Right, right. You seem to have many lives, many lives.

LAMBE: Oh boy. Well see that's one of my things. If I get into something I'm going to do it right. There is no point in piddling. I just don't believe in that.

ABBOTT: So the things that you do now -- you're the secretary of the Masonic 79:00Lodge and you are the music director of an Episcopal church here.

LAMBE: Yes. It is kind of the new -- two columns there. I mean -- I was-- there are connections, I'll give you the thread. When I moved here the neighbor across from me at the time -- was an Episcopal priest, he had not retired at that point, he understand what the anaphora of Addai and Mari was. How many people know that? I was astonished. He knew something about The Church of the East and everything. Well, we hit it off right away. He was priest at St. George's, he invited me to come. They had no one to play the organ. I said "Well I can at least play one note," you know so I started playing the organ there and then their service was at ten thirty and then the person that was playing at this 80:00other church, St. Matthias was quitting and they asked the Bishop and he knew I played there at ten thirty said "maybe you can do both" and so for a couple or three years, I played at ten thirty at this church, put my surplice on, grab the music and ran across town (laughs) to the other church. One is electric and one's a pipe organ, but I loved this organ and I love this church and it's a historically black church. But now it's a successfully integrated, half and half, it's amazing. So it's a beautiful church and it was built about 1894, stained glass windows and they had never had the money to screw it up, so it's 81:00all original. (laughter) And uh, I started playing the organ there and eventually I just dropped St. George's. I just could not do -- that was too (laughs) --

ABBOTT: Too much.

LAMBE: It was. And I'd take a pipe organ over any time over electric organ anyway. So (laughs) there was an incentive. And then I organized a concert series. I started -- the acoustics in this church are to die for. I know have yet to bring a musician there that I want to sing or play here. So, I started with child duets with my -- my teacher Martin Clairfield[?]. I said "We got to just do something" and it was a huge success! I mean, I had one -- one donor give five hundred dollars, I said "well, we've got something here" so we had three concerts that year and one was strings and organ and strings and -- um -- 82:00horns, I think. So the first year we had three concerts, the next year we had five concerts. They grew by two each year until I go to a full month -- I mean a full year every month. We're in our nineteenth year now --

ABBOTT: Oh.

LAMBE: Of concerts and we've raised a lot of money to do a lot of stuff at that church like help with the roof -- the doors are all restored to the original doors. It cost forty thousand dollars, the -- we put in a new roof -- all kinds of things, it was bare brick in the walls had to be re-plastered. It was a lot of work that has happened there and concert series is a great success. So that's 83:00going on. The other stream is -- through -- invitation and I wasn't invited -- what is the word? Led to Masonry, something I've always been interested in of course but it was so hard to find out much about it. How do you join that, you know? Anyway, it was through Bill DeBruhl and his wife --

ABBOTT: Mhmm

LAMBE: Poochie (laughs)

ABBOTT: Poochie DeBruhl.

LAMBE: Now, Poochie was a nurse a, she had been retired -- she would go up and down the street with the dog and she knew everything that happened on this street and it was wonderful. And she was great, but she was very instrumental in leading me and Bill too, to apply and I did.

And so that's another whole stream of (laughs) -- but it was another gorgeous bu 84:00-- it's a theme about buildings here. Gorgeous building and great fraternity and there is actually -- I've been kind of thinking about this. There is a kind of similarity between the Masonic fraternity and the Running Water fraternity. Different focus of course, entirely, but there is a certain -- one of the things we'll -- at the end of every meeting we have a circle, and so I -- I -- instituted something. I said "Brothers, humor me", I said "there's an energy when we meet and we don't want to confuse it." So we hold hands a certain way not to confuse the energy so it's a tradition we did from Running Water into the 85:00Masonic. But it's true, I -- I -- if you have time I'll show you the temple. It's gorgeous.

ABBOTT: Oh yeah!

LAMBE: We're working very hard on that and so were doing rentals. We had a big fight because some of the -- one of the bodies -- members of some of the body wanted to sell it because it was so, so hard to maintain -- and -- and it is. It is very expensive. But others of us that thought of a way by renting it out to public events, we could raise the funds to do the work that has to be done and we were right and that's what -- the whole state loves this building. All the grand masters come and they love it, so it was a great success story.

ABBOTT: So you go to preserve --

LAMBE: Preserve another building (laughs)

ABBOTT: Mhmm. Mhmm.

LAMBE: But it's useful. It's beautiful and useful. What mo-- more could you ask for? (laughs)

ABBOTT: Well, I -- I spend a great deal of my adolescence in Masonic temples. I --

86:00

LAMBE: Oh really?

ABBOTT: I was in the Order of Demolay.

LAMBE: Demo -- oh we just reorganized! We had Chapter number one three and it we-- fell apart and now it's being reorganized.

ABBOTT: So that was- that was part of what, you know, what I brought to those early Faerie gatherings.

LAMBE: Yeah.

ABBOTT: Although I didn't think about it but I was used to ritual --

LAMBE: Yes, and -- and (unintelligible).

ABBOTT: And I was used to the circle, you know the way that things are organized, and to being in a group of men where there was something special about our coming together.

LAMBE: Right. It's all -- it's the same energy. Uh, yeah.

ABBOTT: Mhmm.

LAMBE: Exactly and see that carries over into the new life of mine.

ABBOTT: Well, I -- I did think after I left and of course the -- you know back then the Masonry was very conservative.

LAMBE: Oh yes! Absolutely.

87:00

ABBOTT: You know and -- and may still be in lots of places.

LAMBE: It is in places but what was remarkable is I've very open about being gay and that seemed to be no barrier. It was never discussed, it was just not a barrier. It was just not relevant to the issues that was much more important. It's true about Masonry its ab -- it's really talking about your inner self, your person, your character, that's whe -- all those we call Free Masons because you take the working tools and apply them allegorically to yourself so that you are on the level, you're upright, you're -- you know, on the square.

ABBOTT: Mhmm.

LAMBE: So, every-- it's all about integrity. And its where the Radical Faeries are too. In a way.

ABBOTT: It's different.

LAMBE: It is --

ABBOTT: But it's the same.

LAMBE: It is. It is.

ABBOTT: It's the same.

88:00

LAMBE: So it works. It resonates with me very well and I love it and they all know me and they accept me. We have several gay members, two or three, maybe four. One -- one is, he came -- he said -- he married his companion and so I said okay, so on the rosters and everything, I put down spouse -- wife, you know. I said -- I told the grand secretary "I'm going to change that to spouse?" (laughs). "I have a brother that is married to a -- a man?" I said "he -- that doesn't fit, he's not a wife. He is a spouse." He said "Oh, I guess we have to deal with the times." (Laughs) He -- this guy is great.

ABBOTT: Oh my.

LAMBE: And so --

ABBOTT: How astounding.

LAMBE: Yeah. (laughs)

ABBOTT: How astounding. You are so subversive.

LAMBE: (laughs)

89:00

ABBOTT: You really are. You have just been a subversive character your whole life long.

LAMBE: Thank you for the compliment. (Laughs)

ABBOTT: (Laughs)

LAMBE: I always thought I was overt. But anyway --

ABBOTT: Well, but I mean you -- you are.

LAMBE: I co -- could be--

ABBOTT: In one sense you don't hide who you are but then you -- you just.

LAMBE: I just don't broadcast it.

ABBOTT: Well, you also find the gentle way -- you know -- the sort of water way in right?

LAMBE: Mhmm, yeah. Well I have found a way -- this has been a path of mine that it's -- it's -- it's very detrimental to have to declaim who you are. I would rather just be who I am and they have to -- most everybody has no trouble at all with that and just, I don't have to broadcast anything, I just am and they take me for what I really am and not the -- the idiosyncratic whatever.

ABBOTT: It's like you said on the latter level operates from a place of integrity.

90:00

LAMBE: Right, right. (inaudible)

ABBOTT: And part of your integrity is that you are a gay man.

LAMBE: That's right, that is part of me. So how I deal with that -- see that's a whole -- subject I would love to see a whole Gay Spirit Vision conference deal with is the -- what is the integrity of gay m -- of gay faeries in this world? That a har -- big issue. Because you know, it's just equal right and all that kind of -- or being accepted, what do we offer?

ABBOTT: Right. Who are we.

LAMBE: Yeah and how can I be better -- a better faery. (laughs)

ABBOTT: Well you mentioned Gay Spirit Visions and you're one of the founders of that. Can you talk a little about that?

LAMBE: Oh! One of my proudest children (laugh) -- I'm proud of these children. Yeah, I'm very excited about that because when Raven and Peter and I basically 91:00were the ones that organized this. We went out -- was out (unintelligible) Running Water gathering said "how do we take it to the second -- the next level" because we got a little tired frankly of Faery 101 where it's just "Oh this is the first experience I've had", "Oh it's great, we all love it", but those who have done that for ten years say it's got to be more than "Oh how wonderful this is" to get together and so we said, we need a little more structure, which is a little antithical [sic] to Short Mountain, of course (laughs) but it's very Running Water. We just needed more structure to this whole process so that we could get more done for those who care to do that, not everybody would be interested in that. It's like in Masonry, we have a lodge now that is reclaiming 92:00older traditions very formally, not for everybody but for a select few. That's very exciting. I mean they use candles, and incense and very ritualistic, live music. I get -- I'm a musician for two of the bodies now. I play piano for one and cello -- solo cello -- then we have a solo flute that does it, and then a little fellow that does Indian flute, so it's -- it's an experience so it's quality of the experience. I'm very proud of that. (laughs). But anyway, Gay Spirit Visions Conference, so it was a way of getting Harry Hay and we need people that were on the forefront, the cutting edge to lead us into deeper waters, if you will and I think that's been a great success.

93:00

ABBOTT: I agree, I agree. Well its- it's been going on for twenty-five years now.

LAMBE: Yes, and the interesting this is without me having to be there (laughs). But the concept was right so it was -- but it was Raven and Peter and I that basically crafted that and then you know the stories about finding a place to f-- (laughs) it was a struggle but we've finally did. Short -- I mean the -- the Mountain has turned out to be a really hospitable place for that. I mean that's key. I mean you just can't do that anywhere.

ABBOTT: Right, right and I think that's -- you know -- that a -- that's a matrix in a sense the synergy of the GSV and Mountain come together --

LAMBE: Well, not only did they accept us, they welcomed us. We've been waiting for someone to (laughs) come -- they said "well, we've been having a hard time getting here but we got there" (laughs).

94:00

ABBOTT: Well talk a little bit about your personal experience in music. You're a musician, you've written music, music is really important to you.

LAMBE: Oh it just sings my soul. Yeah, it's all around me (laughs). What I'm doing now mostly is organizing things around music, organizing concerts. I -- the things I wrote were back at mostly at Running Water. A lot of -- the core of the music I've written is that. (Unintelligible), it's like Bach's cantata, (unintelligible) for everything. And what I'm -- in my -- I have a cello choir that I organized and so for the last concert we did a whole concert on just pieces I arranged or wrote.

ABBOTT: Okay.

95:00

LAMBE: So you know when there is a need there's an opportunity to do something so there was -- a limited number of additions for just cello choir, there more growing now so I just rearranged some of the songs. Interesting thing about that how little I had to change because the songs are based on the -- the poetry so it's the meter of the poetry but I don't have to change anything. So, I feel that's pretty good, if it works musically without the words, then that's a good synergy without worry. So anyway, I'm having fun with that. What were -- we -- I lost train.

ABBOTT: Well, we were just talking about, you know, music as being a thread that 96:00comes through the whole of your whole life experience.

LAMBE: Oh! Oh my whole life, yeah. I mean when I was child -- my earliest -- when we -- when I was very young my father liked classical music and so I have some very fond memories of staying up late listening to the radio and he was cracking nuts or eating bananas or something, I don't know what and we would listen to Beethoven and all that. Mother would go upstairs (laughs) she couldn't care less, she was not interested at all, she never did. She liked Lawrence Welk --

ABBOTT: Okay.

LAMBE: But I have two unc -- my father and one of his brothers like classical music. They're the two that have the e on the names. There must be a connection there.

ABBOTT: Mhmm. The Lambe's with an e.

LAMBE: Yes, the classical part of the family.

ABBOTT: So what haven't we talked about?

LAMBE: Oh let's see.

97:00

ABBOTT: Well all your china. (laughs)

LAMBE: Oh they're another passion, yes. Into -- you know it's interesting-- I was going to -- I was always kind of curious. I inherited some of this collection from my mother, she was a collector and my -- even -- I was raised with some of this furniture.

ABBOTT: Wow.

LAMBE: So my mother and father collected a few things in their early years like this hall table and the étagère in there. They got that old, the étagère was black, she said and they had to get a toothbrush to clean it. It's all solid cherry and it's a fabulous piece of furniture and so they collected a few things and then when my mother remarried -- Robert, he was a quite a collector himself. 98:00He had a big collection of commemorative glass he sold to the Greensboro Museum. I still have his paperweights, he has over two hundred paperweights, they're still boxed up there (laughs) I haven't figured out what to do with those. Anyway, so when Robert died I took some of the stuff that was there here because (inaudible), and then when mother died -- before mother died, she had to clean out the apartment. (laughs) I was going through her stuff she had a -- I'd go into her lingerie and there was a paperweight wrapped in her hose.

ABBOTT: It was everywhere.

LAMBE: They were everywhere and it still is everywhere, so it was great. But I 99:00go all their stuff and then I -- going -- and so I got really the bug about antiques and I think it was a trip east that I stopped at a place, some kind of shop and they had for sale some Minton china that just took my breath away. I said "ooh," and you know it was very rare to find some then. Now you go on Ebay and you can get five hundred pieces a day but that's because the network which is a hell of a good way to sell it because I have way too much. But there are some exquisite pieces. They are no -- they did a lot of hand painting stuff so it's quality, high quality. Exhibits with the royal family and all that stuff so --

100:00

ABBOTT: Well you certainly have plenty of it.

LAMBE: Yes, more than what I need, but I will keep the more precious pieces.

ABBOTT: Of course, of course.

LAMBE: And there is one I have to show you. I won't do it now, but there is a -- a -- they did a -- just commercially -- they did souvenir plates things, you know, and one was this kind of blue border with a scene in the middle and you will never guess what the scene is.

ABBOTT: No, I won't! (laughs)

LAMBE: It was perfect. It was the Golden Gate before the bridge.

ABBOTT: Oh wow.

LAMBE: It -- it was perfect for me. (laughs). I said I got to have that.

ABBOTT: Yes, yes. Before the bridge. Wow, that's -- that's -- that's a remarkable thing.

LAMBE: Oh my God, I feel exhausted having lived all this stuff over again (laughs).

101:00

ABBOT: Well, before we stop, let's -- I mean is -- I guess I -- you know, we've covered most everything we think of to cover right now.

LAMBE: I know. I'm just --

ABBOTT: And we can have a subsequent conversation later -- because I think after you do this kind of review, you'll think of all kinds that you didn't say.

LAMBE: Oh I wished I had said this; the French has a term for you "Pensée d'escalier.

ABBOTT: Okay yes, then it will be that and who knows whether this equipment will work --

LAMBE: Oh my God! (laughs) I f-- (laughs)

ABBOTT: I've had a wonderful time if it doesn't (laughs)

LAMBE: (Laughs) Oh I've had fun too, I don't know --

ABBOTT: But, I think that probably -- you turned 80 on your last birthday?

LAMBE: No, next year --

ABBOTT: Next year you turn 80.

LAMBE: Yeah. I'm 79.

ABBOTT: And so as you look ahead, given all your life experience, all your 102:00interests, you know, what do you look towards and what do you hold most precious?

LAMBE: Ah, my memories there, my music. One thing you would never guess this, one thing I wish I had -- as a career done- but I never got a career path (laughs) is I would have loved to have been an architect. I would love to build things. What I think I would like to do -- when I can't do all the stuff that I'm doing now is write. I would love to write some stuff.

ABBOTT: Well you certainly have quite a memoir to compose if you want to that.

LAMBE: (laughs) Well -- but it's more than that. It's also crafting words. It's also -- and so at the temple I do the minutes and that's very prosaic and factual stuff. Even when I did Running -- RFD and Running Water, I did very 103:00factual stuff. I didn't do creative poetry or-- and I'm not a poet but -- I've tried it a couple of times and fallen flat on my face. But I would like to do some creative writing sand with computers these days, maybe I could so it. At least I don't have that awful typewriter. (Laughs)

ABBOTT: Yes, yes, so much easier when you make a mistake or when you want to revise.

LAMBE: I will never forget po -- do you remember Charles Simpson?

ABBOTT: The names rings a bell.

LAMBE: He was at Running Water for -- sweet little lad. Well, he typed, and Dwight was -- they -- they -- I forgot the issue we were working on but they had to do it cam -- you know -- had to do every stroke by count --

ABBOTT: The finger type.

LAMBE: You know count them, backspace.

ABBOTT: Oh wow.

104:00

LAMBE: So he wanted you to do a circle. Charles spent days working on this thing that was in the shape of a circle and Dwight said "That's just not right. You got to do it over again." I thought Charles was -- (laughs) -- he was devastated. But he did, he did it over again. (laughs) So we had all those interesting (unintelligible).

ABBOTT: Yes.

LAMBE: Stories about creating.

ABBOTT: Well it's so -- I mean you've got plenty of material to write about.

LAMBE: Yeah. I could do memories, I could do something else.

ABBOTT: Mhmm

LAMBE: I don't know what that'd be, that's just a thought, you ask.

ABBOTT: Yeah. Yeah. Well I appreciated you sharing your stories here.

LAMBE: (laughs) Well thank you. I appreciate having the opportunity to -- to -- 105:00with someone who knows where on I speak.

ABBOTT: Well I know a little bit, but you know, it's interesting for me with people I know from a piece of life to kind of get the whole arc --

LAMBE: Yeah.

ABBOTT: Of their experience of how they got from point A to point B and sort of how -- how their life has worked as an art.

LAMBE: And how it fits. Yeah.

ABBOTT: Yeah.

LAMBE: Now not everyone has a smooth arc, but mine sort of makes sense to me. I mean what I'm doing now fits those building blocks that brought me to this point.

ABBOTT: Well and I think that you have perspective, which you know, alas many people don't have much of. I mean you've been able to look back and to see how one thing connects to another to another.

LAMBE: Right.

ABBOTT: And, I'm sure whatever the next thing is, it's going to be connected to 106:00what comes before it but it's going to be its own thing. It's going to --

LAMBE: Yes, and it may be completely serendipitous--

ABBOTT: Exactly.

LAMBE: Out of nowhere. That happens to me. (laughs)

ABBOTT: It does. That's part of your magic.

LAMBE: Yeah. Well, magic is having the eyes to see it.

ABBOTT: That's sounds like a wonderful place to turn this stuff off. (laughs)

LAMBE: (laughs) Well, thank you for that!