The Days Between at the Archive

The sculpture of Garcia’s hand by Tom White, outside of Dead Central.

For Deadheads, the time between Jerry Garcia’s birthday (August 1) and death (August 9) has come to be called The Days Between, after the song of the same name. In keeping with the spirit of Hunter’s moving elegy, that eight-day period has become a time for reflection for those whose lives have been changed or touched by the Grateful Dead phenomenon. For some, that week has become a time for forgiveness and healing; for others, it is simply a time to remember and reflect on their experiences with the Dead and with Garcia in particular.

Since opening in June, the Dead Archive has become a destination for fans traveling to Northern California, often as part of a Deadhead tour to visit the Haight-Ashbury and take in a meal and a show at Phil’s Terrapin Crossroads or Bob Weir’s Sweetwater Music Hall. Noted band photographer Herbie Greene visited on August 14, just after the Days Between, and dozens of Deadhead baseball fans made a pilgrimage to the Archive before heading off to the third annual San Francisco Giants’ Jerry Garcia Day on August 3, benefitting the Rex Foundation.

Thanks to the generosity of Manasha and Keelin Garcia, who threw out the first pitch, the Archive was represented at Jerry Day and watched some fine ball playing (alas, the Giants lost). Moonalice, who honored the Archive’s public celebration with a great show at the library on June 29, gave an inspired performance to open the festivities; they played a fine set that built on their prowess as a first-rate original band who can also do ample justice to the Dead’s songbook.

The number of visitors to the Library spiked during The Days Between,  with fans coming from as far away as Germany, New York, and Florida to see the exhibit, “A Box of Rain: Archiving the Grateful Dead Phenomenon.” As the Archivist and the curator of the exhibit, I gave impromptu tours for several groups, and it was interesting to see what pieces engendered the strongest reactions (most visitors singled out the letters on display on the band’s conference table, especially the ones from Pigpen’s father to the band, and from the band to Richard Nixon).

One of the cards left at the Archive, celebrating Jerry’s birthday.

As the week progressed, the sculpture of Jerry’s hand, by Santa Barbara artist Tom White, became a focal point for several fan contributions, shown here. The Archive has thousands of fan letters and gifts like this; it is a pleasure and an honor for the Archive to now be the recipient of that attention, and to continue the tradition.

That tradition has now lasted for seventeen years after the untimely, early death of Jerry Garcia, and these expressions of the reverence and wonder that the Dead inspired seem no less heartfelt and immediate as the sentiments expressed at the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park on August 13, 1995, when more than 25,000 of us gathered there to pay our respects. On behalf of the Dead Archive, many thanks for sharing your feelings with us, and with everyone who paid homage during this special time of remembrance.

~ Nicholas Meriwether, Grateful Dead Archivist


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