The Outlaw Gypsy


I remembered her face immediately.  Lisa walked into our high school and our lives after having disappeared many years before.  She had made a brief appearance in grammar school.  Just a few years at Beverly Vista, then vanished.

We looked at each other as our nearly grown-up selves, knowing instantly we had once been close.  And we started up again.

I introduced her around.  She was now a beautiful flower child and stepped into life at our school so easily.  Lisa Saunders wore white peasant shirts and the oh so ubiquitous bell-bottoms of our time.   Chris Head, a wild musician type, became her boyfriend.  And now Lisa adopted a new name and we were all on board to call her by her new moniker, Gypsy.  In fact, coming and going as she had, in and out of our lives, she was a gypsy.  I usually hate when people change their names, but this one suited her.

Gypsy was part of a strange phenomenon in Beverly Hills.  Or perhaps everywhere.  She lived with her grandmother.  Or was it just déjà vu because I had another friend who moved away and was now living back in B.H. with her grandmother?  I don’t know what the story was.  But I think her grandmother was ill-prepared to take care of a rebellious youth.  The apartment on Camden Drive just south of Wilshire, crawling with vine on the outside, too small on the inside, grandma getting old.

I don’t know what the infraction was, maybe drugs, maybe staying out all night at her boyfriend Chris’s, but suddenly there was some big teen drama brewing.  Gypsy came up to us, her posse of friends at school, and said she needed help running away.  Today was the day.  She could not go home. If she did, she would be in BIG trouble.

One of us went to the drug store to purchase hair dye.  Diane, Cathy, Libbie and I would transform Gypsy from a blonde to a raven-haired beauty, right there at Beverly Hills High School.    We were all in the girls’ locker room near the swim gym.  A retro, urinal-looking sink is where we applied the product.   None of us knew what we were doing so we took turns reading the directions, making it up as we went along.  Then Diana (wayward youth herself, sent away to school) took over, saying she knew just what to do because in her boarding school she had learned how to dye hair.   The heavy-duty paper towels are what we used to dry her newly wet jet-black hair.  We left that sink a big mess; it looked like we murdered someone.  But we were smart enough to throw the incriminating Clairol box in a trashcan in an alley outside school.  Off we went, dropping Gypsy off on the Sunset Strip.  Is there any other place for a teen runaway?  Pandora’s Box was the location of choice.


I drove the getaway car.  Being the only one of us with wheels,  I was the eternal designated driver.   She would blend in and then find her way back to her boyfriend’s house.  Gypsy managed to escape the authorities for several days.  When she was caught, she was sent off to Juvenile Hall.  Juvy.  This was some serious shit.   None of us were in trouble for aiding and abetting.  This is what I remember her telling me about her time in Juvy: the inmates weren’t allowed pimple cream for fear one of them might ingest it.  However, they did have toothpaste.  So, every night when they needed to dry up a zit, they would dab a bit of toothpaste on.  Gypsy claimed it really worked.  For years to come, I would do that for my flare-ups.  To this day, whenever I hear Led Zepplin, I think of my old friend Lisa/Gypsy, as that was her favorite music. (click and listen below)

I like to think of her alive.  No, seriously, that would be good.  So many of our friends did not survive the times.   I like to think she’s happy and has raised a brood of kids somewhere… and hope she’s told them the tale I have just told you.

VOICE OVER: Once upon a time, there was this little girl named Fredde Duke…


Gypsy as Lisa, far right, second row from bottom, me, far left, bottom row


When I think of the strip, I think of many restaurants that I loved in those days, all long gone.  I am sure I will get to talking about all of  them eventually.  Never in a million years could a teen runaway have afforded Scandia Restaurant, a favorite of mine.  The dish I craved and still do crave, but feel I will never know how to make it quite like them is a Scandinavian dish called Pyttipanna.  I will just tell you how I think you might be able to throw it together.  Make some roast beef hash.  Fry or poach a few eggs.  Put the eggs on top and serve it with fresh Bearnaise Sauce.  Scandia would give you a gravy bowl filled with Bearnaise Sauce and I would of course drench my dish with it.

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14 Responses to “The Outlaw Gypsy”

  1. Carol Dudley says:

    You sure do come up with some interesting story – I do hope she is alive ad well and you two meet up somewhere – that would be wonderful. xxooc

  2. Alan says:

    I was secretly in love with Lisa, but I guess most of the guys were, as the moth is drawn to the flame.

  3. Mel says:

    Love roast beef hash with an egg! A home dish! (one of dad’s faves) and a rare craving and treat – – not for the longest time now! ah, roast beef hash ~

  4. Leslie Simmons Potts says:

    So enjoy reading your stories Fredde! Loved Scandia….remember celebrating many a holiday, graduation, birthday at Scandia! Thank you Fredde!

  5. Julie Phalen says:

    Another great story Fredde. Thanks for the great read.

  6. Keep writing, cutie pie. Sorry I changed my name, but it was that or homicide.

  7. Mitch says:

    I never ate at Scandia, though I worked with a guy whose dad helped it get started by plugging the place on radio. And I don’t remember Lisa, but your description of her all but brings her to life. She sounds scrappy enough to have survived those times.

  8. Doreen Ringer Ross says:

    Kids in BH lived with grandparents often so that they could use a BH address to go to that great school. You were always the driver….I remember that. And, thank you for all those rides home from SMC. Wonderful piece….I can so picture that girls locker room mess. I hope she’s alive too….and I hope you meet again and then write about it!

  9. Pauli says:

    Well, talk about wild swings from juvy to Scandia in one breath. I thought you would have talked about The Source – and something with sprouts. You have a wonderful knack of pulling the reader in to your world, Fredde – I could almost smell that awful sink and felt afraid for Lisa. Hope she made it. So, so glad that you are putting this all down. Keep writing!!

  10. libbie says:

    Fascinating what we did back then! Naivete. What a great space to be in. I love your work and you!!!!! Fabulous visuals always accompanied by amazing aromas. xoxox

  11. libbie aroff-lane says:

    Love this!!!!!

  12. Phil Kaufman says:

    I signed up for an all-school wrestling tournament at Beverly while a freshman or sophmore. The match-up chart had me paired with a “C. Head” , which turned out to be Chris Head. At the start of the match, Chris whapped me across the side of my head with the flat of his hand, which surprised me and threw me off balance. I didn’t think it was legal to whap your opponent in the head during a wrestling match. Anyway, once I was off balance, he continued to move forward and eventually pinned me in about 20 seconds. I was kind of ticked off because I really thought I had a chance of winning. Eric Gibson was watching the match from the sidelines, and snapped his fingers as I walked off as if to say, “Tough luck, Phil, better luck next time”.

  13. Christel Chesney says:

    I do hope Lisa/Gypsy finds her way back to you. Keeping my fingers crossed that she does.

  14. gari says:

    i used to love to eat at Scandia~i do not remember what i liked there but was always so happy when i knew i was going~your writing is so descriptive that i feel like i am actually there~

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