—From the cartoon “Meet Jimmy, the Prairie Belt Sausage Boy.” It was at his own insistence that in March 1982, Kurt left 413 Fleet Street and his father and stepmother’s care.
His uncle was surprised to be given the responsibility.Kurt spent several months with his Uncle Chuck, where he began to take guitar lessons.Chuck was in a band with a fellow named Warren Mason, one of the hottest guitar players on the harbor.Built in 1906, Weatherwax stretched over three city blocks, with five separate buildings, and Kurt’s class had 300 students—three times as large as Monte.In Aberdeen, Kurt found himself in a school with four factions—stoners, jocks, preppies, and nerds—and he initially fit into none of them.As Kurt told the story, he only took one or two lessons, and in that short period he learned everything he needed to know.
But Warren remembered the instruction stretching on for months, and Kurt being a serious student who spent hours trying to apply himself. Warren asked Kurt the question he asked all his young students: “What are some of the songs you want to learn? Kurt already knew how to play a crude version of “Louie, Louie.” They worked on “Stairway” and then progressed to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” The lessons ended when Kurt’s poor grades made his uncle reconsider this choice of afternoon recreation.
Though he’d make two stops that were a year in length, over the next four years he would live in ten different houses, with ten different families. His first stop was the familiar turf of his paternal grandparents’ trailer outside Montesano.
From there he could take the bus into Monte each morning, which allowed him to stay in the same school and class, but even his classmates knew the transition was hard.
One day he helped his grandfather construct a dollhouse for Iris’s birthday.
Kurt assisted by methodically stapling miniature cedar shingles on the roof of the structure.
His uncles and aunts were less strict, yet in the more laid-back households there was less of an attempt at structured family togetherness.