THE ANCIENT GALLERY


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“He took a face from the ancient gallery and he walked on down the hall………

From The End 1966.

When we were producing, “Morrison, The Rock Opera”, at Gazzarri’s, I received a call from my mother-in-law, Clara. She asked me to check out a lead on someone who was selling 8×10 photographs of Jim along with a taped interview of Jim, Ray, Robbie, and John that had been conducted at SUNY College in upstate New York. The interviewer was a journalism student, who had held onto the tapes and photographs now offering the package up for sale.

With all the national press coverage of Anne and I producing the project about her dead rock star brother, anyone and everyone came out of the woodwork to sell or tell anything about the Lizard King. This would be the first of many contacts – some weird, some poignant, and lots of off- the-charts, out-to-there Fan-a-tics.

When I spoke with the seller, I was surprised he was letting them go for such a pittance. I bought two sets and took one to Clara.

I found her going through a box of black-and-white baby pictures of the three Morrison kids. She was picking out all the photographs of Jim. There was one of a flaxen, blond-haired Jim sitting on Coronado Beach in 1946 in a linen diaper.

Clara removed Dylan’s picture from an album of her grandchildren by her daughter, Anne. I was blown away as Clara started laughing when she compared the photography of our firstborn, sitting on the same beach, in almost the same pose, wearing a linen diaper, some twenty years later. Dylan was Jim’s living double. Those Morrison genes are strong, and Dylan, especially, along with his mother, resembles Jim the most.

Clara and I chuckled as we continued looking at more photographs. A few minutes later, she abruptly left the room and returned with an old suit box. She removed the lid, took Jim’s Cub Scout uniform out of the box, and laid it gently on the table.

As Clara stood there fondly gazing at her find, I realized this was the first time I had ever seen her show a profound sense of loss. She fussed over the uniform, straightening the collar, and soothing the small garment out, as she lovingly reminisced about her firstborn.

The sadness that permeated the room was contagious leaving me with a suppressed mourning mindset to this very day.

I once saw a documentary about elephants in which the matriarch was leading her herd through the jungle. She stopped at a pile of baby elephant bones. The rest of the herd gathered around and joined her in gently turning over and caressing the bones whilst making sad, throaty sounds. That forlorn scene transmitted the same grief ridden pall I experienced that day.

This poignant scene was interrupted by the sound of the Admiral’s car returning from a game of golf. Clara quickly gathered up the precious items and left the room. We never discussed with the Admiral the real reason for my visit. He refused to talk about Jim publicly and Clara complied even though she truly longed to recoup memories of her son kept secreted away for such a very, long time.

Some years later, Clara put together a Jim Morrison gallery in the garage of the family home. She plastered the walls with his baby pictures, lots of school papers and letters he had written, along with all of his gold, platinum, and double platinum record albums, posters, buttons, et cetera. Finally, I thought, the late Lizard King was being honored out in the open.

One Christmas morning, not long after, the Admiral and Clara were sitting in front of the fireplace with a blazing fire when a burning ember flew out igniting the throw rug in front of the hearth. The Admiral quickly stomped out the small flame, then rolled up the carpet, and put it in the garage.

During the night, while the Morrison’s slept, the carpet re-ignited and burned down half of the garage, incinerating and obliterating The Ancient Gallery that had been carefully and lovingly put together by a grieving mother.

“Look! See it burn. Bask in the warm hot coals…” – Jim Morrison

It was a sad and macabre way to end our story, but that was just like Jim Morrison: a Greek tragedy keeps playing on a perpetual celestial loop.

 

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