By Erika Meyer
It’s the last days of February. Gilly (her name is pronounced with a hard “G”, like “garden”) agrees to talk with me. We will meet at her salon at 11:00 before she starts her day at work. Across the street from Gilly’s are two other long-time female-owned businesses: Dot’s Café (a late night hangout with good food, a full bar, a pool table, and walls full of old rock posters and kitsch art) and the Xtabay Vintage store (a shop with a 50s boudoir vibe and the most amazing vintage party dresses, handbags, shoes), neither of which are open yet.
I walk into Gilly’s shop where another hairdresser is already doing a haircut and discussing midwifery regulations with her client. The sky outside is a marmalade of gray, and everything is rain-washed.
Elliot Smith’s ‘Rose Parade’ drifts from the salon’s iPod speakers.
Soon Gilly Ann arrives, bundled up in a coat and scarf, her wavy hair up in a high pony tail, and wearing glasses with leopard-pattern frames. She always looks comfortable, and she always looks good. Sometimes she wears these bright, playful fabric flowers in her hair – they are made by her friend Laura and you can buy them from Gilly at the shop.
We step outside together and walk to 26th street to a small café called The Press Club where I order a glass of red wine. Gilly orders a grilled roast beef sandwich and when it arrives, gives me half. At some point, she mentions she is expecting her second daughter this summer. Her first daughter is nearing 10, and she now has a stepson, about the same age as her daughter.
I dig out my cassette recorder and a couple of scotch-taped Boo Frog Undead at Satyricon cassettes. They aren’t big sellers. They are so 2010. Cassette buyers (assuming they actually exist) and cassette distributors seem to prefer inscrutable music on beautifully-decorated cassettes. No one actually listens to music this way, do they? But cassettes and tape recorders still work pretty good for interviews. This is an old-school interview: done in person, and recorded on a not-very-attractive-looking cassette.
One of the things I think is super-cool about Gilly, is she grew up in Cave Junction. Cave Junction, a town with a current-day population of around 2,000 people, is probably the biggest town on an 80 mile stretch of road that joins the big west coast highway Interstate 5 with the coast highway 101. It is an old gold mining and logging town. Tourism is a primary industry, and while the northwest logging industry has largely crashed, though there is still one mill still operating there. The population includes hippies, ranchers, farmers, cannabis cultivators. It’s also a good place to view darlingtonia, a swampy carnivorous plant. Twenty miles to the east, tourists flock to the Oregon Caves National Monument.
In 1927, someone in Cave Junction photographed a U.F.O.
The tiny town is surrounded by rugged mountains, forests, wilderness: the Rogue River National Forest to the northwest, and hundreds of miles of rugged up-and-down mountains to the south, starting with the Siskiyous. Most of the famous 20th century Bigfoot sightings occurred within 100 miles of Cave Junction. The shy hairy cryptids are just part of a deep and rich mythology that reaches back long before the European invasion 160 years ago.
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