Cathy's Appearance/Disappearance
Larry Hankin

         It was the same on the flight back. She came out of it a bit when she saw Katy, but it took a while.
         Three days later I came back from rehearsal and a friend was there, babysitting Katy. Cathy had called her to watch Katy ‘til I got home. Cathy didn’t come home that night. Nor the next. No reported sightings by her friends. I resumed taking Caitlin with me pretty much everywhere, mainly because I liked her company and Caitlin seemed up for it. She took crayons and a coloring book everywhere and if she got bored, out came the crayons and pad. 5 days: no Cathy; no word, no trace. 6 days. Cathy had disappeared. I called, searched, asked: Gone. Into thin air. Again. This time I just waited. A couple of days after that I got a call from Mike, the Prankster’s cameraman. He said he was calling from Berkeley, California, just across the Bay Bridge. Cathy was with him, staying on his houseboat. I figured a houseboat is familiar for Cathy so that’s a cool thing. He said he didn’t think Cathy was able to take care of Katy so I said I’d take care of Caitlin ‘til we can get in touch with her real father and/or Cathy’s parents.
         Katy and I hung out for a couple of more days – to me it was a Mutt & Jeff act: we were a well-oiled team by now. Katy was cool. Then I got a call from Mike saying Cathy was gone again. He didn’t know where. And after a week or so I got hold of her real father, who lived across the bay. A few days later this nice guy, who was Caitlin’s real father, came by the apartment and took Katy home. A short time after that, I got a call from Katy’s dad. He asked me to meet Katy at her day-care school in Sausalito which was much nearer to me than where they lived at the time. Katy and he were moving far away and Katy wanted to say goodbye to me. The next day I rode over the bridge to her school, her teacher met me and got Katy out of her play class and Katy and I spoke and hugged and said goodbye.
         I didn’t see Cathy again until many years later when I ran into her in New York City with her then musician boyfriend, and then about 2 years after that, I ran into her back in North Beach in San Francisco. She was living alone over by Golden Gate Park. We hung out for a few days, but we were both very different people by then and I was about to move to Los Angeles in another 2 weeks. When I did, we lost track of each other. I never saw her again.
         Years later, I heard that Cathy was living with a painter up in Northern California. And then I heard she passed away. More time flew by and then I got a phone call from a young woman who said she was Caitlin: Cathy Casamo’s daughter. She wanted to talk to me about her mom and about Cathy’s disappearance in Houston for 3 days. It was amazing to see Caitlin after all those years. She was a smart, strong young woman; married, with a kid of her own. We talked about Cathy and Houston and where Cathy had been since then and I remember being awed by Caitlin all over again. I came of age in the ‘60’s in San Francisco, and Cathy and little Katy let me share a part of it with them and showed me worlds I could never see without them. It was an amazing gift. And Cathy’s laugh. I always thought that it was like if you told Cathy a joke and she laughed, she not only got it; she got you.

Larry Hankin, Marinadel Rey, 4.3.10



Letters From Jay Thomas


Dear Caitlin,
         I was with your mom for a while in the late 70's. We lived up on a hill in Fairfax. I am a trumpet /saxophone player and I met your mom when she was with David Watson. When I first saw your mom I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen! Seriously...anyway she rescued me in a very dark time...I was living over in the city and was lonely and depressed and a methedone addict. Well, your mom swooped me up like an angel of mercy...I lived with her and Holden. She used to take me on bike rides and we ate really healthy food and I had many good times...we would go out to Bolinas and swim at a lake that we had to hike into. Your mom was amazing and unfortunately I was still a long way off from pulling it together. I went down to play at the No Name bar a few years ago with Michael Aragon and heard about your mom's passing at that time. I was shocked and saddened. I wish I could have talked with her again. I do remember you, but not well. I got clean in ’85 and I'm doing OK these days...I have a son who is 28, his name is Miles and he is a good kid. I hope Holden is fine. I remember playing baseball with him...he was just a pup...ha. The website is a revelation. Anyway, I have a website…

Hi Stephen,
         Thanks for getting back to me. I'm still a musician and I am friends with Michael Aragon who leads a band and plays drums at the No-Name...or used to last I checked. I came back up here in ‘78 or ‘ is very hazy. I know we were together from one summer to the next! We lived in a house in Fairfax on a steep had to park below. We had some very idyllic times riding bikes and she took me out to a nude beach in Bolinas somewhere that we hiked into. I was a junkie in those days but an upwardly mobile one…ha. I was on methadone much of the time. We had one time when my brother, who was a big crab boat fisherman, came and visited...John came and there was drinking and Holden decided he was going to get into it also...I got up in the night and saw that Holden had puked. I was savvy enough to be more than a little alarmed when he did not wake up when I shook was 911 and off to the ER…yikes! I was not really that stable and Katrina, as she called herself at that time, was also involved in legal hassles...we shared the same probation officer and he was kind of a stalker...he probably had the serious hots for her...who wouldn't!...anyway he put pressure on her to not have me around, but that is not really what happened...Katrina had to go to the honor farm out in Novato for some little thing...maybe shoplifting...I'm not sure what...anyway she met a guitar player there and that was also fine because I was returning to the NW, where I was from.
         Katrina and I had great times in that house...the sun came in and it was a beautiful space...we ate such healthy meals and every day she would walk down the hill into town...and weigh herself…ha! There was a free scale in Fairfax that she liked to use! Katrina was a very healthy woman and kind of an her heart she always felt for the underdog...she knew many great New York jazz musicians...Tony Fruchela was one of the quintessential " lyrical losers"...even more than Chet Baker... and Cathy was friends with him and told me many stories. When I met Cathy she was with David Watson a tall black singer who lives in Hawaii now. At a rehearsal or jam session I was playing at I remember Katrina was there...I was very good in those days and had already been to the Big Apple and recorded etc...I was pretty good, if I do say so myself...but unstable emotionally...or very over the top emotionally...whatever...we were playing a tune and it was completely wrong somehow and I yelled out and made some kind of comment...and then realized what a fool I had made of myself and tears spurted from me...and lo and behold who was there to comfort but Katrina...she said to me..."that’s alright...your fine...don’t worry of the most beautiful women I had ever seen or met and she was suddenly aware of me and knew and heard me. After that I always had eyes for her. She was a free spirit and loved all kinds of could be African, Jazz or Country and Western...whatever
...actually, she could carry a tune really well and knew large amounts of what is considered the "Great American Songbook"...she could sing all kinds of standards...I think with coaching she could have been a professional singer and that probably would have been really good for her. Katrina was very spontaneous and did not like too much regimentation or hierarchy...she had a real intellectual anarchy streak. I remember she could be very Sicilian in her likes and dislikes...we lived briefly with Chuck Sher and his wife...Katrina just hated Abby. Finally it just came to a head and they had to split. Chuck has become quite successful publishing the New Real Books. Anyway, I was down to SF again, maybe 8 years ago, when Boogie, a guy named Jan Davis, wanted me to perform for an event after his wife died of brain cancer...I found out that Michael Aragon's son had died of cancer also...and then when I asked about Katrina and was told that she died of cancer it was a shock.
         I have been clean since 1985, so my life has changed a lot...when I think of Katrina, I think of some bike rides with Holden and my dog Frodo and stopping to get a smoothie...and the sunshine coming into the house on the hill.

Thanks Jay,
        This is great and helps put more of the color in the ongoing portrait...I can see her and Holden in your tale...Cathy/Katrina was the quintessential Free Spirit...I checked your website and noticed what an amazing amount of great work you've done...impressive...I didn't see any references to your early drug use and was wondering how you feel about that being up on the net?...I can soft edit it but it is a part of who she was...the Cosmic Angel of mercy. I would like to use one of the pictures of you from your you have a preference? I also know Michael Aragon...I used to play/sing at the No Name with Susan Pease as a duo called Susan & Stephen for 2 years circa 2000-2002...we have many good live recordings.
        Anyway thanks again,

Hi Stephen,
         I'm ok with it...I'm not too worried after 25 years...the only people who remember are my old friends. San Francisco will always have a place in my heart and Cathy was great. My regret is that I was not really as supportive and good to her as she was to me...she was so kind. I was a huge baby...but it goes with the territory of being a very self involved musician/drug addict ...she was one of a kind and I am glad she rescued me...I will never forget those times. Holden was a good little he is probably 40 or, how time goes by so quickly...I remember Caitlin was a beauty like her mom...sounds like they are happy and well...that's good. The Cathy site is a very loving thing...thanks for doing it. If you see Michael Aragon say hey for me.