Welcome to “Flashbacks with Katie Mae”

REALLY?! Has it been 41 years since my path changed course? Welcome to “Flashbacks with Katie Mae” no pun intended, they happen all the time and I consider them a rebate.  And better yet, through all the years combined and the dreams made, I find my memories of my happy place; still in full tech-n-color and vividly in tact.

My journey, which is not over yet, just on Covid19 hold, began in 1979 at the San Diego Golden Hall for two shows, and then continued at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion for one night. This was my first three-day run. It was my experience during “Looks Like Rain” that opened my mind and soul and took my breath away. I have never forgotten that moment of bliss where I was whirling and twirling around the upper level deck that circumnavigates inside the entire arena. If you have been there, you know what I am referring to. WOW! I magically ended where I had started after one full circle. I remember my heart and soul filling with so much LOVE and knew, at that moment, I AM in this for the long haul. My life is better because I was present in the moment!

Fast forward three years, a high school graduate and16 shows later, I find myself among a close group of friends from Redondo Beach, California.  I was the 10th person in line for entrance to the first Grateful Dead two-day run at Ventura County Fairgrounds. It was July 16, 1982.

Not knowing what to expect, we thought we better arrive early in order to get a good spot. Our small caravan arrived at Ventura County Fairgrounds by 10am. The actual shows did not start until Saturday at 4pm. The campgrounds/parking lot opened up on Friday afternoon to get the party started. Our group consisted or The Buck Mobile (Yellow Van), a camper, two smaller trucks and my camping car, a 280Z. After two years of traveling and camping in my sporty 280, I traded it in for a VW van with a bed and plenty of room for friends. The early arrivers had been hanging out for a few hours in the parking lot across from the entrance to the fairgrounds. 

This pattern of arriving a day early, forming a line and taking turns watching out for all GD Family, and helping others when needed, became the norm. Whether one was on the West Coast, East Coast, or in the Mid-West, creating a strong bond was, and still is, an important part the journey.

One could not just put a blanket down and walk away, expecting to return when the gates opened. It’s all about putting your time in, and getting to know the Grateful Dead Family, many whom are still around to this day.


These tickets are what got us inside the camping/parking area by early afternoon. Not having the knowledge of how the fairgrounds were laid out, we just followed the parking attendants lead and found our selves in the “DEAD center” of the lot.


Our job was to get the party started which we did. The day grooved on, nighttime came, the atmosphere did not disappoint, and pretty soon night turned into day again. And by 9am, Saturday morning the line up began.


We had constant action and not much down time because we were in the thick of it, RV’s, trailers, campers, and cars were all just mixed together.


Fortunately, we got parked where the line to go in was situated, so of course, we were some of the first one’s “on line.” In order not to lose our spot we took turns hanging out on the blankets, line sitting.


Finally, an official looking Bill Gram Productions (BGP) blue coat supervisor showed up to get things organized. Since we had already gotten ourselves into the first of the many organized “line ups”, the supervisor just handed out tickets to those of us who had been there. My ticket number was #10