Happy Birthday, Daddy

As much as I love the month of May, it’s really a struggle to get through. Along with exams and other end of the school year plans, May also brings my father’s birthday and death date, ten days apart.

But I believe in celebrating life, and the precious, glorious time I had with Daddy, never mourning him. That’s why I am choosing to write about him on his birthday, not on the fifth anniversary of his death.

Daddio was the oldest of five boys, a regular Richmond hippie growing up in the sixties. He was a theater boy at Benedictine, kicked out by headmaster Father Adrian Continue reading


Grateful for the Dead

There are a lot of perks of being a musician’s daughter.  I have many memories of going to father’s shows at a young age, jumping up and down and dancing to his original songs and covers. And as a hippie, Daddy’s favorite band was the Grateful Dead, so by the time I reached kindergarten I knew the words to “Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” and “Not Fade Away” while my friends were making up their own lyrics to N*SYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”.  My parents owned a stuffed animal Dancing Bear that I used to add to my menagerie when I would go to bed at night.

And by some kinda strange stroke of psychedelic luck, my father was the long lost twin of Jerry Garcia, the Dead’s frontman. Both men with wild and gray hair and beards, Daddy’s fans would refer to him as Gary Garcia. It even got confusing as his daughter: when I was ten, I noticed his Jerry Garcia doll (Why did he own that?) and yelled out,  “Daddy look it’s you!!” “Oh no Claire, that’s Jerry Garcia”. daddyjerry.jpg Continue reading

Cupcakes, Family and Festival: St. Patrick’s Day

When I woke up this morning, my first though was “holy balls snow again!” but it really should’ve been “holy balls Saint Patrick’s day!” I probably shouldn’t rant again about the snow and my great desire for sun and flowers (and sunflowers), and how crazy it is to snow in Mid-March, so let’s move on to bigger and better things: Like a really good excuse for the Irish to get drunk.


Happy St Patrick’s everyone!!

Well, I concluded my spring break yesterday with St. Patty’s Day baking vanilla Lucky Charm cupcakes. And since this is part food blog, I’m going to share it with you 🙂

100_1629 Continue reading

History of History

What happens when a girl is stressed out and tired from college-exams, tests, planning for next semester? Why, she blogs of course! And as a little stress relief, let me tell you about my one true love.

It’s 2001. Saturday morning, about ten am. A six year old girl wakes up, and runs downstairs to the kitchen, hoping her parents will fix her a bowl of Oreo cereal before she watches hours of Recess and Spongebob. When she gets to the kitchen, her father is propped up at the table, Richmond Times-Dispatch spread out and a cup of coffee by his side. She greets him and they start talking. Before you know it, the dreams of cereal have dissipated and a bowl of honeydew is on the table while the aroma of sausage fills the room. The conversation has turned from what words she learned to read that week in first grade to Emperor Nero.

Of course, that young girl was me and her father is my incomparable Gary Gerloff. Being the man that he was, Daddy thought that cartoons and cereal were going to turn me into a sugary, uncultured monster. His great story-telling abilities fought (-and won!) against my cartoons, and he enchanted me with mythology and early civilization. Those early morning conversations of the Greco-Roman world is what lead me to my love of history.

Once I was reading books by myself, my mom would take me to the library-and she would always loose me. By time after time, she would catch me in the historical fiction section- American Girl series to princess diaries- and at night I would run to Daddy and tell him about Marie Antoinette, Anastasia Romanov, or any of the other princesses I was divulging in that day, and he supplemented my knowledge-probably more than a seven year old should know.

Flash forward 2013, yesterday to be exact. That same girl went to the History major course fair, where she was greeted by the undergrad adviser by name, a man who shares her passion of the ancient world, and remembers that about her. She’s looking at a double minor in Art History and Mediterranean Studies, to continue her other love of art and her favorite part of Europe, as well as getting her master’s in teaching.

I’m indebted to so many more people that just my father. I’m lucky enough to have been taught by some of the greatest teachers in Richmond who expanded my love and knowledge. These ladies have also been great role models and mentors whenever I’ve needed them, and I can say 100% they’re why I want to be a teacher. (Much love to my Gertie women- you rock Mrs. Hoggatt, Mrs. Rives and Mrs. Carrig!) (ps I love you too my non-social studies teachers)

Now at VCU, I’m an active member of History Now!, a club that visits historical sites around Richmond like the capitol, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and next spring-Monticello (eeep! Thomas Jefferson!!!!) This week we had a meeting in the Cabell Room at the James Cabell library-which looked like a time machine to the Victorian era (so beautiful!!), and hold James Cabell’s personal book collection.

Cabell Room


I honestly don’t know where I would be without history. What would I ever major in!?!? I briefly thought about social work as a back-up and becoming a grief counselor until one of my customers told me his horror stories as a social worker and I backed out.  But I think I’ve picked the right thing for me. I’m quite social and teaching lets me get to know my students as they get to know my passion and help them understand it all. OmgteachingisgoingtobesomuchfunplusIwanttogobacktosaintgertrudewhyisntthishappeningnowIcantwaitfiveandahalfyears

(PSST Did you know Shaka Smart has an undergrad in history?)

I am Folk Festival



Happy Folk Festival 2013!!!

Isn’t it ironic that the first folk festival my Daddy worked, it poured down rain, and the first folk festival I work, it rains? I see what you did there, Daddio. 

I absolutely loved volunteering. Asking for donations, meeting people, seeing old friends, giving out stickers, it was perfect. (Plus I got to hear a lot of amazing new music) Let me give you a play by play. 

Saturday afternoon I worked at the Community Foundation Stage. Working the buckets, you mainly walk around the area and ask for donations that help keep the festival free. Then before every couple of shows, introducers come on stage and do an “ask”, asking for donations, and bucket brigaders like myself go out and that’s when we collect the most money. I ran into family friends, Planet Granite friends, VCU friends, SGHS friends, and made plenty of new ones! In fact, Planet Granite friend Todd introduced me to Alex Meixner of the Alex Meixner Band, a really good polka group, who then invited me onto stage while he played and do an impromptu Ask! I stayed after my shift for about 45 minutes but I didn’t mind at all. I loved being there so much I didn’t want to leave, plus I got to see Sarah Kate! I almost immediately ran into my friend Courtney and got to enjoy the festival with her, which was so awesome, seeing that I never see her around campus and really missed our talks from Saint Gertrude art class. 

I went out for round two today in the same gross weather, but on Brown’s Island. It started out the same, a need to pull out my not-ratchet umbrella and ask the same people for donations constantly until more showed up when the rain stopped pouring. I had a little bit more fun, meeting a cute VCU boy/fellow brigader and having a competition to see who would get the most money. (I actually don’t know who won, he walked away later when high schoolers starter flirting with him.) Seredipity occurred when a bunch of my Honors College friends passed by and visited me for a while! (Seeing all of you guys made me so happy!!!) The weather was worse today, but I think I gathered a good money of cash for the crowd we had. After my shift, I got my favorite food at the festival- hot, fried plantains to warm me up, with an Indian vegetarian samosa. I tried Thai Iced Tea for the first time just where has it been my whole life?

So now, I’m sitting here, in my bright orange  volunteer shirt wondering if I’m turning into my father. I made friends with festivallers on Saturday who recognized me on Sunday, somehow found my way on stage, and kept his same enthusiasm about the festival and Richmond. I’m so blessed to have been a part of this great part of Richmond, something Daddy helped start. So many of the people I saw this weekend I know through him, and I made a few Gary like connections myself. I already am counting down the days for next year’s festival. 

And would you like to know something else? Every year Daddy volunteered, he would come home with that year’s poster. Since this was my first year volunteering, I decided to revive the tradition and buy the 2013 poster for my first year as a volunteer. Did you see the cats on it? Did Daddy have some divine intervention influence on the artist when it was created? I know he’s loving it, zee little kitties having a campfire

The Richmond Folk Festival means the world to me, not just as a volunteer or a Richmonder, but as Gary Gerloff’s daughter. If you went, you probably saw the Gary Gerloff Trail. That was dedicated to him months after he died, during the 2009 festival. Thank you, committee, for keeping my father’s spirit in the festival he brought to Richmond. The Folk Festival was up there in his great loves of life- people, baseball, food, music, and Planet Granite Pool. I know he was watching this festival especially close this year, maybe teasing us a little bit with the rain, but that’s okay. It might have been his little test to me: “Claire, if you want to work the Folk Festival, you’re going to have to go through what I did nine years ago during the flood of the first festival. But you’re my baby, so I won’t make it that bad.”

 I did it, Daddy.