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All the Ghosts Dance Free, A Memoir by San Miguel Author, Terry Cameron Baldwin

By Cynthia Simmons

Terry Cameron Baldwin, the consummate daddy’s girl, invited her father, Jack Gray, to live with her in Mexico after Jack’s investments took a nosedive following the 2008 financial collapse. Jack, who was 89, consigned his valuables to an auction house, hitched a utility trailer to his grey Subaru and drove to Mexico.

All the Ghost Dance Free
by Terry Cameron Baldwin
Copies available in the Biblioteca Tienda

Living with her father again ignited memories. They reminiscenced. And during a silent retreat Terry started writing about her childhood. Terry, who’d been a stained glass artisan, print maker, painter, calligrapher, and jeweler, had always wanted to write. After the retreat she studied writing with Eva Hunter and enrolled in classes at the annual San Miguel Writer’s Conference. All the Ghost Dance Free is the result—a multi-layered memoir of her storied life.

All the Ghosts Dance Free is a provocative exploration of family, beginnings and endings, loss and letting go. Written in six parts, the first three trace Terry’s beginnings. Book One, Daddy’s Girl, explores her privileged but unstable childhood on the southern California coast. Terry’s move to Palm Springs with her mother and sister Carol, following their parents’ divorce, is the subject of Book Two, Living as Sisters. Terry’s marriage to George Cameron and escape from this energy-stealing environment to become a “flower child” is examined in Book Three that ends when Terry returns to Palm Springs as a single mother the year after her son Yohosame’s home birth.

Endings are explored in the second half. Book Four, Flyboy, catapults ahead forty years to Jack’s arrival in Mexico. To avoid the cracks in their relationship that emerged from the strain of living together as adults, they joined David Rico’s Vagabundos and traveled to Copper Canyon, Oaxaca, Guayabitos, and Chiapas. Jack wanted to live forever but eighteen months after his arrival, he died from complications following a routine medical procedure. In Book Five, Matriarch, Terry is summoned to her mother’s bedside while Kitty fights death. The final book is Asilah, a town on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, the final resting place of her first husband, George, who converted to Islam and became Yusuf.

At each stop on this journey, the places Terry lived and numerous family trips interspersed throughout the narrative—Greece, Tahiti, Italy, Paris—Terry’s lyric prose and lapidary details transport her readers to the locations. We see, hear, and smell these places and are immersed in their cultures.

Yohosame prompted the last stop on this pilgrimage. He urged his mom to join him in Asilah for the 10th anniversary of his father’s death. They met people who revered Yusuf, walked the streets where he’d found peace and paid tribute to him at his gravesite. When Terry left Asilah, she let go.

All the Ghosts Dance Free is listed on Buzzfeed’s “10 Most Anticipated Memoirs for Fall 2015” and the Culturalist’s “Ten Best New Books of October 2015.” It can be purchased at the Biblioteca Tienda, at and by emailing Terry at Additional information about Terry is available on her website,

Cynthia Simmons is a writer and arts development consultant living in San Miguel.


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