A Photo From Hana. Kris Kristofferson mailed me a signed photo. Why his song, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” has special meaning to me.
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
This column was written September 7, 2007
A week ago tonight, my partner Greta and I were in the kitchen preparing dinner. Greta held up a large envelope. "You received a package today from Hana, Hawaii. Looks like a photograph," she said.
My first thought was that my sisters, who had just been on vacation in Maui, had sent a photo of the two of them together.
"Who's it from?" I asked.
"Someone with the initials KK."
"KK" didn't strike a bell. I thought, yikes, what if one of my Finding Love After 50 newsletter subscribers sent a picture of herself in a bikini or hula skirt? After all, many of them have sent photos to me and I do have subscribers who live in Hawaii. I could tell Greta was as curious as I was. She asked if she could open it.
"It's from Kris!" she said excitedly.
Again, my reaction was that it was from my sister Chris, from her vacation in Hawaii, although she spells her name with a C.
At this point, I need to provide you with a little background info.
In April, 2007, I read that Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, presented the Johnny Cash Visionary award during the CMT Awards show in Nashville to one of Johnny's closest friends.
Johnny and his family were friends of mine when I was the marketing director in the 1970s of the Victoria Station restaurant chain. I hired Johnny to sing our radio commercials and traveled with him extensively. I was a good friend of Johnny and his wife June Carter. Plus, Rosanne and I were pretty good pals from those days also.
Last year, I published a memoir titled, "Prime Rib and Boxcars. Whatever Happened to Victoria Station?" (www.vicsta.com). It chronicles the rise and fall of Victoria Station during the eight years I worked there.
Rosanne is quoted on the back cover of the book, and the man she presented the award to in April is also included in the book. In fact, the title of one of the chapters in the book is, "Sunday Morning Coming Down," which is the title of a famous song that he wrote. His name, of course, is Kris Kristofferson.
I contacted Rosanne and asked for Kris’s address, which she provided: Hana, Hawaii.
Four months ago, I sent Kris a copy of the book and the following letter:
"Rosanne Cash gave me your address.
"I wanted you to have a copy of this book. It's a memoir I wrote about Victoria Station, the restaurant chain that thrived in the 1970s. Your friend Johnny Cash did our radio commercials; he and June were friends of mine and are featured in the book.
"You are also in the book. John and June always spoke highly of you and I thought you'd enjoy hearing that from a person you've never met.
"Congratulations on all of your achievements, including being a Rhodes Scholar. I admire your work. Your song, Loving her was easier than anything I'll ever do, is one of my all-time favorites. As is, “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” There is a chapter in the book with that title.
Here is why “Sunday Morning Coming Down” has special meaning to me. One night at Lake Tahoe, at the Sahara Tahoe Resort, I was visiting with Johnny and June backstage before a concert. Johnny asked me what my favorite song of his was. I told him, “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” He came out and opened the show by saying, “This song is for my friend Tom Blake. And he sang, “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”
"I've owned a deli in Dana Point, California, called Tutor and Spunky's for 18 years (Tutor and Spunky's Deli). I would love an autographed picture of you for our deli wall. You'd be up there next to Johnny and June. It would mean a lot to me.
"Enjoy the book. It's in memory of Johnny."
Back to last Friday night in the kitchen. The autographed picture that was in the envelope came from Kris Kristofferson. On Saturday, I mounted it on the deli wall-of-fame, alongside Johnny Cash's photo.
Handwritten on the picture: "Thanks Tom. Peace. Kris Kristofferson."
Sometimes, it's the little things in life that make one's day.
2016 update: The deli sold in 2015. The picture of Kris is now on my office wall at home, next to the Cash family pictures. My partner Greta and I have seen Kris perform twice in concert. We still haven’t been able to shake his hand.
Kris Kristofferson picture for Tom