Who Knew?

Concert at Manor Downs
Concert at Manor Downs

Who knew I would ever see any of those people again? Part of me had hoped I wouldn’t. Embarrassing memories are better left alone!

My most embarrassing memories…they were from my twenties in the seventies. I lived right smack in the middle of a culture ushered in by counter-culture leaders of the sixties. One of these fearless leaders had personally known John Lennon; another had been friends in high school with Janis Joplin. It goes on and on like that, but that’s all I can remember now.

We smoked pot, went to orgies, demonstrated against the Vietnam war, advocated and fought for civil rights, burned our bras, dropped acid, imbibed psilocybin mushrooms, hosted parties at clothing optional Manor Villa, experienced amazing music at large muddy outdoor concerts “Woodstock style,” enjoyed backstage passes anywhere in Austin. Some of those things I did,; some of those things my partners in crime did; I won’t say which!

Recalling more, now, it wasn’t all just fun and games, protesting and drugging. We worked hard for our idealistic vision. Our work was at the Austin Sun–we wrote about it, promoted it, loved it, and lived it.

What had jolted these long since faded memories?

Fast-forward to 2007, Santa Barbara CA. The Night Bird. For three months, just out my open window a bird was chirping, incessantly, ceaselessly, nightly. I can sleep through anything; so I ignored it. For a while.

My subconscious mind didn’t ignore it, though, and eventually spoke to me about the message of the unceasingly chirping bird…A night bird…Jeffery Nightbyrd.

Who is Jeffery Nightbyrd? He was our editor/publisher/leader at the Austin Sun. I hadn’t given the Austin Sun much thought since I left it.

At the same time my suppressed memories were coming back to life, my sister unexpectedly encountered Bill Hood, a former Art Director for the Austin Sun at an event in Austin. My sister being a connoisseur of memories, brought up the idea of an Austin Sun reunion; and I was surprisingly open to it.

Looking back now, the Austin Sun was a happening, an amazing happening. With the perspective of 35 years past, although fraught with embarrassing, immature moments–nonetheless, these were some my life’s most exciting, creative, magical, formative years.

Warming up to these forgotten years, I kept in touch with Bill Hood via e-mail, and reconnected with Sam Yeates and others. We all felt the creative chemistry flowing yet still, and it was like a day hadn’t passed! When Bill came out to Long Beach for business, he drove up to Santa Barbara to visit me in January 2009.

Together we concluded that the magical creative energy of Austin Sun era was still alive! It had influenced our lives in many ways, and it deserved recognition.

The Austin Sun Reunion was born in Santa Barbara, CA, January 2009.

The Austin Sun Rises AGAIN!

Deborah Stall-Nelson
February 2009
Advertising Sales Manager, The Austin Sun
Program Director, Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic
Gordo’s Pool Hall Program Director

And now, the Communications Goddess of The Austin Sun Reunion!

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  1. Bill Hood says:

    Deb, thanks for writing. At this point in our lives we can look back and know that the times we shared at the Austin Sun were not only some of the happiest times of our lives, but in many ways they contributed to who and what we became.

    It was indeed an exciting time. I remember most of the events – the Grateful Dead at Manor Downs, with joint after joint being passed down the line. The staff meetings at Manor Villa, where we all stripped down and really got to “know” our office mates. The parties, the backstage parties, the house parties, the political parties – it seemed as though life was just one big party at the time.

    Yet, somehow we got the work done and the paper “usually” got out on time. Although, I do remember a few times when the staff walked out en masse for one reason or another.

    They were some of the most creative times of our lives and like you, we remember them fondly.

    Bill Hood
    Austin Sun Cameraman
    Austin Sun Art Director

    And, Margaret Moser wasn’t the only one who cleaned the toilets!

  2. Deb Stall says:


    It has been pure creative joy working with you putting this website together, tracking down the 30 something Austin Sun People that we have found, formulating a mission statement, and building a volunteer leadership staff.

    There have been a few moments where I thought I didn’t need an extra project, an extra duty! There are so many things that seem to require my attention.

    But, as we move forward in this new joyful journey, I am totally excited about the creativity and the synergy we are experiencing and building, and how the momentum is beginning to expanding to others!

    We can be a catalyst and provide the organizational structure because we are moved to do it, and as we respond to the muse (Marty McKenzie); it becomes pure joy!

    Thank you for being willing to do this, to lead with your can-do and humble serving spirit.

    I am so greatful to be reintroduced to you and your very beautiful wife Barbara, and I feel like a whole new friendship at a whole new level has been formed between us, and its based on a sense of teamwork, love, and dedicated to a bigger picture.

    I sincerely invite others to partake of this exciting creative synergy energy, that is maturing to the level of one of the finest spiritual wines ever created.

    Join us in this most exciting journey, all who consider themselves Austin Sun People! (If you have to ask yourself, Am I an Austin Sun Person?…then you are not.) This is a self-defined journey, and all who have the courage to bask in this creative energy, are invited!

    When something is pure joy, nothing can subtract from it, other than the fear that it will dissapear. We are walking in the joy and the light of this creative journey, and it is


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