A Season for Reunions

by Ann Moses on October 12, 2013

In my blog post “My Trip to the Rainbow Planet,” I told you about reuniting with Jim “Harpo” Valley of Paul Revere and the Raiders. Once connected via Facebook, we madly emailed back and forth. Later, we even Skyped once, and I met his lady love, Wendy, and got a tour of his home and his treasures from his travels as he carried his webcam through the house.

Loved this invitation

Loved this invitation

What I did not expect in my in-box a few weeks later was an invitation to Jim’s 70th birthday party! Because my husband and I are still paying off our sons’ college loans, my first thought was: no way, it will be too expensive. Then my next thought was: I’m not passing up one more important event in my life. Connecting with friends and loved ones should be priority one. The bills will get paid.

Then I went into panic mode – what would I wear? I should lose a few pounds. When I told my younger friends at work about my exciting upcoming event — just three months away — they kicked into high gear to get me up-to-date on hairstyles and make-up. I came home each night having been “made-up” by my friend Mindy, with a new eye shadow or new eyeliner.

My husband said he didn’t want to go because he wouldn’t know anyone. Little by little, as I dropped pounds and started wearing my hair in a softer, more flattering style, he began to tease me that Jimmy would probably “hit on me” even though we both met Wendy on our Skype call. I was looking hot, in my husband’s eyes anyway. We’ve been married for thirty-three years, so these “jealousy” moments were all in fun, but they felt good just the same.

I booked a flight to Seattle for the day before the big party. I had reservations at the Gig Harbor Inn where some of Jim’s friends were also staying, and he had made arrangements for me to ride along to the party with another couple so that I could enjoy adult beverages and still safely get back to the inn.

My husband, Tony, paid me the biggest compliment of all about two weeks before the big night. “You are looking like a stone fox,” he said “go into the office and see if you can get me a ticket on your flight.” Done and done. In my mind, it was our chance to have a romantic getaway. We hadn’t been on a trip together in ten years except when we went to the Caribbean for a week (twenty-two years after our honeymoon trip there).

Jim expected about 150 guests to the birthday party, which was to be held at the Longbranch Improvement Club in Longbranch, WA, about a half hour south of his home and our hotel. I knew face-time with Jim would be in high demand, but he was so sweet and told me he wanted us to come to the house for a visit at four that Friday afternoon, as soon as we got settled into our hotel room.

Our son Mike drove us to the Phoenix airport that morning. There was a steady rain, so rare for Arizona. We landed at Seatac and took a shuttle to our hotel in Gig Harbor, a gorgeous little seaside town about an hour north of Seattle. I had not been to Seattle since I spent a weekend there with Merilee Rush and the Turnabouts in the late 60s. By the time we got to our hotel, there was not a cloud in the sky and from the window of our hotel room, you could see the snow capped Mt. Rainier – a full-sun day just as rare for Washington in March.

I couldn’t wait for 4 p.m. to come. I had prepared a birthday present for Jimmy,

Jim and me in his historic and cozy home.

Jim and me in his historic and cozy home.

and I didn’t want to take it to the birthday party. I wanted to give it to him personally. Finding his house wasn’t easy. After a couple of wrong turns we finally turned down a winding road and there it was. As we pulled into the gravel driveway, Jim and Wendy met us in the front yard. I felt like no time had passed whatsoever. Of course, we kissed and did the bear hug thing – that has always been Jim’s way with people. He is one of the warmest men I have ever met. Of course there were hugs from Wendy too. And I proudly introduced my husband to them.

Before even going inside, Jim took us on a tour of his magnificent garden. Only a few things had begun to bloom so early in the spring, but his land is lined with hundred-foot tall pine trees with bushes and flowers planted everywhere. Amongst the gardens are treasures like birdhouses, beautiful stones, and garden sculptures from exotic lands. He said it’s his own little piece of paradise.

We went inside to share a glass of wine, but before we went out to enjoy it on the incredible deck overlooking the bay, I wanted Jim to open his gift. To make the gift, I took issues of Tiger Beat to have all the articles and photos of Jim and the Raiders digitally scanned. Then I made a photo book titled, Jim ‘Harpo’ Valley – The Raider Season.

He looked through each page in amazement. It brought back so many memories, like my photos from the two separate tours I went on with the Raiders. He had forgotten their visit to the children in the hospital where they had taken many of the stuffed animals that were gifts from fans. He paused as he looked at the photo of he and Genie the Tailor as if they’re dancing on air. “I loved Genie so much,” he shared.

During his year (or season) as a member of Paul Revere and the Raiders, he rarely saw all the things published on them. He was too busy traveling and performing. My present brought tears to his eyes and that validated to me how much he loved my gift.

Tony and I spent the rest of the afternoon getting a room-by-room tour of his home. The structure was the original general store in Gig Harbor from the 1800s. Jim has restored the historic house, plus added on to make it more roomy. In the dining room and living room, the south wall is all glass and looks out on the bay and across the bay to the pine covered hills. Piece by piece, we got to explore his art collection, with rare work from all over the world – everything from Chinese marionettes to Nepalese weavings and all sorts of paintings. All the art is from the places he has visited in his travels singing for children around the world. I recounted his life after the Raiders in my other blog posts and will share Jim’s website and Facebook page at this article’s end.

About the time we were leaving, Jim’s son Timothy Bananas Valley (remember, Tim was born during the hippie days, so his name was not so unusual for the times) arrived and we got to meet him, a handsome young man, now living in Southern California. Jim immediately showed Tim his book and that made me smile.

Tony and I went to dinner at a wonderful restaurant in town and as we chatted with our server, she asked if we were visiting. We explained we were in town for our friend’s birthday party. She asked who — it’s a small town — and we told her Jim Valley. She let out a little squeal. “Oh, he came to my grade school,” she said, “and I still remember all the moves to ‘Splish Splash.’” Besides appearing at international schools all over the world, Jim has probably performed at most of the schools in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

Tony and I tour the Heritage Distilling Company.

Tony and I tour the Heritage Distilling Company.

We woke to another sunny day and decided to do a walking tour of Gig Harbor. We visited a number of used bookstores — I always search for rare cookbooks — and we enjoyed the scenic harbor. In the afternoon, we went back to our hotel and noticed that there was a distillery right next to the hotel. We went in to Heritage Distilling Company and got a personal tour from one of the owners. My husband enjoyed tasting hand-made vodka, bourbon, and gin at the tasting bar. I passed on the tastings, but we were both tempted to join the class in distilling your own liquor that was being held. We didn’t have enough time, but we had them ship us all the things to distill two quarts of hand-crafted bourbon in our own mini-barrel. This was Tony’s birthday present and would be ready for him to enjoy by his birthday in June.

I was excited as we got close to the Longbranch Improvement Club. We’d been told we couldn’t miss it as it was on a two-lane road, but after a very dark drive through the countryside, we followed all the other cars pulling into a parking lot and knew we had found it.

The club was a huge wooden structure, like a community center. The floor

Wendy, me and Jimmy

Wendy, me and Jimmy

was a well-worn but perfectly maintained antique wood floor. The stage was decorated with big rainbow hanging, and the front of the stage was covered with children’s art presented to Jim on his many travels. Behind the long buffet table was another huge Rainbow Planet banner he puts up for some of his shows. There were two birthday cakes, one with guitars and a rainbow, the other with edible flowers to honor Jim’s love of gardening.

The place was packed with Jim’s loved ones of all ages. The band, the Daily Flash, took the stage right away and most everyone filled the dance floor when they weren’t visiting. Jim made the rounds to speak to everyone who had honored him by attending. Some friends came from as far away as Hawaii and the East Coast. After about an hour, Jim took the stage and played a few rockin’ numbers — just as rockin’ as it was in the 60s!

Jim's son and daughters join him on stage.

Jim’s son and daughters join him on stage.

But it got better. He asked his son Tim to come up and play drums and his two daughters, Vicky Ray and Jamie Lynn to join him singing. They performed a Janis Joplin/Kris Kristofferson song “Me and Bobby McGee” and The Bands’ “The Weight.” During Jim’s entire performance, everyone was on their feet, up at the stage, and moving to the music.

As the evening was winding down around midnight, I had only had one hello

Save the last dance for me!

Save the last dance for me!

from Jim. So as he was saying good night to some of his other guests, I told him, “I’ve got to have one dance with you.” The Daily Flash was still playing on stage, and we had our dance while my Tony got some memorable photos.

Perfect end to a perfect reunion. Jim and I continue stay close, and Tony, who is an internet marketing guru, has helped Jim set up his Facebook page and helped Jim’s fans to find awesome bits, like videos from the birthday party on YouTube. On a funny, side note, I spent the next week noticing how sore my thighs were – then it dawned on me, I don’t dance for four hours straight anymore.

Some days I’m driving to work and a photo will pop up on my phone, sunrise over the Gig Harbor bay, or a new flower in bloom – a great start to any day. I reciprocate with a desert sunset or the palm trees swaying during a monsoon downpour, but it’s more than sharing, it’s letting me know that Jim is thinking of me. That’s the warmest feeling and, of course, he copies Tony on everything so he can feel the love, too!

You’re the best, Jimmy! XOXO

Good times. . .Ann Moses reporting about “back in the day.” And the recent past!

Website: http://rainbowplanet.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JimValleyRainbowPlanet

 

 

 

 

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Thomas Anderson September 7, 2016 at 8:09 pm

I was only about 6or7yrs we have a beach house in gig harbor we used to sit on the beach and listen to Paul Raveer and Raiders practice you guys had a beach house next to the entrance to the harbor .thanks for the memorys would love a reply did you use to play at the house I’m telling you about .send pics if any thank you.

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