In 1967-68 Nickelodeon Theater founder Bill Raney took off in a VW van – with his wife JoAnne and their infant son, Zerky — for a year of quintessential hippie adventures around the world. Literally. From Portugal to Greece to Afghanistan to Thailand, with pitstops everywhere in between.
During the journey, Bill started writing letters to his little boy about the trio’s daily foibles and sweet moments, so that when Zerky grew up he would have a record of this amazing journey. But Zerky would never read those letters.
The following year – 1969 – Bill had just opened the new art theater in Santa Cruz, when both JoAnne and Zerky died. After 36 years stuffed into a back drawer, the letters Bill wrote were recently re-discovered and in a heroic labor of love (I’m still in tears over his introduction to the book), Bill published his chronicles as a legacy to his lost son.
The result – briskly edited from Bill’s letters and his late wife’s diary of the trip – is the rugged, fascinating, and ultimately almost unbelievable account of a year that couldn’t ever be repeated today.
Letters to Zerky will be unveiled at a kick-off book talk and event at the Nick, at 11am on Easter Sunday, April 12. Go find out that there was a whole lot more to the crusty movie maven than simply a crewcut and a few velour shirts.