Roberta Browne, Class of '64, 1946-2009
"Berbie". Many of you knew Berbie; I never met her. You have mentioned her often over the past 9 years, always with tenderness and affection. She passed away at the end of March.  Berbie deserves a poem, and I hope she would have liked this one.
 

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David Butterfield on January 20, 2016 at 1:30 PM said:

Berbie and I met in 1969 when we were living in Echo Park. She lived at Villa Laguna, Jackson (or Jackie as I knew him) lived next door. I lived in almost Elysian Park apartment court. My courtyard neighbor was Steve Noonan.

One summer day I was playing my J-160E when a knock on the open screen door revealed the silhouette of a tall, slim lady with waist long straight hair in a flowing floor length dress. She peeked in and asked, "Is Steve here?" I recognized this beautiful creature....she'd picked me up hitching on Melrose in her VW van a few weeks before! Steve Noonan it turned out was Berbie's friend from high school. I took her next door to Steve's cottage and we were an inseparable item for several months. Yep, same paisley curtains, same VW, same beautiful woman.
Bill Stull, SHHS '65 on October 19, 2015 at 11:33 PM said:

With posts as lyrical and inspiring as John Wiesenthal's about the ever-enigmatic Berbie Browne, the Spoon has alchemized from silver into gold. I spent a little time on the fringes of the Echo Park scene, including a vino-inspired episode when after an evening in heaven with the Brownes and co. I decided to take a moonlight rowboat ride on Echo lake. The troll who guarded the spring collared me, of course, and only an invocation of the spirit of roller-skating Amy S. McP. saved me from the slammer. What a a magical place and time it was. Thanks, John, for evoking it so vividly and with so much love.
John Wiesenthal SHHS '63 on October 13, 2015 at 12:11 PM said:

Beautiful sentiment.

Roberta remembered by John Wiesenthal

It was Topper Smith's Public Speaking 101 class at Sunny Hills - 1961-62 was the year. The assignment was an extemporaneous, that is a hastily prepared, poorly researched speech. The topics were: Castro - Who Does He Think He IS?; Tariffs - No Tariffs; My Summer at the Car Wash; Teddy Kennedy - Another Bad Apple; Surfing the Big Ones; My Pet Dragon... My Pet Dragon? Was it fiction, fantasy, alternate reality? What it was was absolutely charming. And prophetic, pointing to the magical Puff, the Smothers Brothers and the soon to come SIXTIES. It also tweaked the noses of some members of the Key Club and and future young Republican leaders of tomorrow and all of us who took ourselves seriously. How open, sparkling, refreshing, beautiful, and innocent was this tall, tan, strawberry blonde! Berbie Browne made an impression on the aggie-surfer of 16 down-from-the-hills that was me. We became immediate friends and soon she was in my driveway handing me a wrench as I dismantled my 1948 Chevy sedan. We hung out, sang songs, went to the beach. I took her brother, Jackie, surfing. Her mom Bea and dad Jack made me feel like one of the family. Our junior and senior years we flowed through each others homes, cars, swimming pools and parents' liquor cabinets. We learned the Kingston Trio's songs off the record player as soon as they came out and listened to the folk singers at coffee houses and stomped to the Righteous Brothers at the Rendezvous Ballroom and Dick Dale and the Delltones at Harmony Park. Bea turned us on to some Beat Poets and Jack tried in vain to clue me in to the Circle of Fifths (no connection to the liquor cabinet.)

I went to college in New York and we sent letters and tapes (featuring the late, Davey Roter) from my dorm room. We were good friends. She dated some of my friends and I dated some of hers. But we were already family so dating seemed redundant. I remember coming back to California after a year or two at Stony Brook. Berbie was very involved in things Eastern and I was excited about my philosophy and science lessons. She didn't share my enthusiasm. We argued a point about scientific method. She said: "Scientists, they're all Pisces and Capricorns. What do you expect?"

Our roads went mostly separate ways but I was always glad to see her when we'd meet for tea if I was visiting from out of town. Now it's been about 20 years since she and Jeremiah and Jackson came by Bettina's one Christmas break.

We shared digs for a short time when I dropped out of school for a semester in 1968. Villa Laguna in Echo Park was a fertile ground for music and art . I expect that someone will write a book about that hillside perch where we half expected to see the ghost of Amy Semple McPherson float out of her Angelus Temple. How many songs, poems, paintings and drawings came out of there? What a cast of: Scot Runyon, Greg Copeland, Suzanne Beauchamp, Jackson Browne, Pamela Polland, Charlotte Rampling, Glen Frey, J.D. Souther, Ed Sanders. I can’t leave out our landlady, Sally Grove who admonished us to study the ant and be wise!

The summer of 1969, Berbie, Jeff Kagel and I made a hitchhiking "pilgrimage" to a community of Rosicrucians in Mill Valley. I'd been taking yoga classes at the Self Realization fellowship. Jeff had thrown in with Richard Alpert (aka Ram Das) and Berbie was devoted to T.M. and the teachings of the Maharishi. We were hitchhiking up the coast and made it to the San Simeon lighthouse - the southern end of Big Sur. After a long dry spell by the road two cars pulled up. A young man at the wheel of the front car was covered with a special combination of sand and oil, his girlfriend at the wheel of the other car- in tow on a long chain (Shades of Pozzo and Lucky in waiting for Godot.) We were split up. I rode in front with the driver, a tattooed guy in his early twenties - a pack of Luckies in his folded-back tee shirt sleeve. Berbie and Jeff got in the broken down blue Corvair being pulled.
Julie Okey Pryor, '63 on April 20, 2009 at 8:04 AM said:

What a lovely poem and very sweet sentiments... I'm sure that she would be pleased to know that she is remembered so fondly.... I never had the pleasure of meeting her but have always enjoyed her brother's music.

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The only photo of Berbie we have: 

http://www.shspoon.stirsite.com/berbie-browne-1946-2009.html