As mentioned on the main page I have a Cowsill story. First, let me preface that I was not the Cowsill fan. My sister was crazy about them. I only knew of them through her - the posters in her room, the records she played nonstop and the numerous concerts she attended. Her favorite Cowsill was Barry. Here's my story......
I got a call one February Friday night from my sister who asked "how close is Newport RI to you?" I told her it wasn't far, maybe an hour and a half. She said that a memorial service for Barry Cowsill was going to be held tomorrow at a gazebo, in a park in Newport RI. and could I go and get pictures.
Most people would think this strange but if you know my sister - nope. Perfectly normal. I told her I didn't know what was planned for the weekend and that I'd get back to her.
My husband walked in the room, and I asked him if he wanted to go to Barry Cowsill's funeral tomorrow. "Who?" I repeated myself and explained that he was one of the members in Lisa's favorite bands and that unfortunately he died under a bridge during Hurricane Katrina. It was all over the news when the family was looking for him. Very sad actually. It was also all over the news when they located him.
Much discussion ensued but we decided to take a spin down to RI and our thought was that there was going to be so many people there we could show up and leave after ten minutes. That was our plan.
The day was as bright as could be - but the wind and cold was unbelievable. I wore jeans, boots and large parka than went below the knee. My husband was also dressed warmly because the temperatures were in single digits. We found the park and gazebo. It was located directly in front of the water. Since no one was there I wasn't sure if we had the right place but there were three or four Newport police officers standing in front of the park. I asked one of them is this where the funeral is going to be and he chuckled and said it was.
Well, considering the service was scheduled to start in less than five minutes - and we were the only ones around I wasn't so sure a large crowd was going to be there.
Two others straggled toward the gazebo (all the time the wind is blowing and howling) and then a few people in wheelchairs and several assorted old hippy types meandered towards the gazebo. My husband and I were the youngest and trust me, we're no spring chickens!! Anyway, we heard bagpipes and a large group of people walking toward the gazebo. If you were looking at the gazebo we were situated to the right. Since there was not a large crowd (perhaps 75 in all) we all gravitated towards the front. We still were to the right but close.
The bagpipe player played beautifully and the family gathered on the gazebo. For the life of me I could not tell you who was who but they sang beautifully a few songs and then said a few nice things about Barry. It was a nice gathering. Then the mayor sent someone with a proclamation that it was Barry Cowsill day and the family invited everyone to a hotel so they could listen to the Cowsills play in Barry's honor. It seemed that the service was over. The large group was walking to the water where I assumed they were going to scatter the rest of Barry's ashes.
I turned around to my husband who is a head taller than me and said "we can go now". He looked over my head and said "Oh my God". I turned and said "what's wrong) and as I said it Susan Cowsill opened the urn and poured Barry's ashes. The wind caught the ashes and I've never seen such a giant puff of smoke. I was ten feet or so in front of Susan and was drenched with Barry's ashes.
I couldn't open my eyes. The ashes (and to be perfectly frank, they're not all ashes - there are chunks of bone shards in there) got under my contact lenses. I couldn't see. I had a mouth full of ashes. I could feel the grit on my face. My husband had to help me back to the car - I couldn't see. People thought I was overcome with grief but I was overcome with Barry. We get back to the car and I had to take out my lenses, rewash it with bottled water, kept washing my mouth out with water. The ashes were everywhere. After I cleaned my lenses I could see it on my boots, on my jeans and it was even in the hood of my coat.
So, I tried to calmly think of other things so I wouldn't get too panicked but the ashes were everywhere. When I got home I took a shower and used up all the hot water. The ashes even stuck to the parka I was wearing. It's almost like pepper is imbedded in the material. I don't wear the parka anymore (except to go to the mailbox or shovel snow). I just can't get rid of the dang thing.
Last winter I donned the coat to go get the mail and my husband said "does it really take two to get the mail?" I told him he wasn't funny, then said "c'mon Barry, let's go."
So that's my Cowsill story. There even was a mention in the Newport paper the next day that because of wind some mourners caught the ashes. And even though I didn't know him I suspect Barry would have had a good laugh with this story because it sounded like he liked to play practical jokes on people.
I don't tell a lot of people other than friends because who would believe this? But it's true. And I have the parka to prove it.