Peace and Love - Never Trust the Man - Power to the People - Make Love, – Not War - Give Peace a Chance - Drop Acid, Not Bombs
Yesterday’s just a memory, tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be.
Those are just a few of the “banners” we lived by in the late 60′s and early 70′s. As many of you who follow my blogs know, I have had a unique life experience. I guess choosing forego motherhood and not being tied down to much in the way of conventional thinking allowed me to gladly move from one life venue to another.
Yes. I was a hippie for a while. I mean, how could I not be? After my rather sketchy high school education, I got married, just one month after graduating. I was 18. It was 1966. I had lived through racial riots in Watts, just twenty or so miles from our house. Ashes from the burning buildings fell on our front lawn in Pacoima, CA, in the then, not so bad area of the San Fernando Valley. It was an exciting time of change, demanded by the people. Racial issues were being forced into the open. The Vietnam War was being protested. People were demanding change in corporate America and in the Government. Kennedy had been shot. We were just about to put a man on the moon.
So in the midst of all that excitement and change, Rick and I tied the knot and moved to Vallejo to live with his mother, stepfather, brother, and sister. Vallejo (pronounced Va-lay-ho) is near San Francisco. I was not prepared for the conventionality of that life. I felt stifled and bored. My inlaws were blue collar, salt-of-the-earth folk. Nice, honest, hard working, narrow-minded, simple people. Definitely not what I was used to, although my dad was the poster child of bigots. If you read my “Peeling Potatoes for Jesus” blog post, you’ll get a better idea, and maybe a chuckle or two.
Anyway, getting back to hippie dippie. We finally moved into our own little rented house in Napa on a couple of acres of fruit trees. I had a ringer-washer, no dishwasher, a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. It was probably about 600 square feet, but it was MINE! All MINE! (evil laugh).
The novelty of being “Sadie, Married Lady” wore off quickly and I realized what a mistake I had made. OMG!!!! I was trapped in normalville! Everything that was important was happening in San Francisco! What was I doing there cleaning, cooking, and putting up with my mother-in-law’s constant demand for grandchildren. No way. I wanted more from life. I didn’t drive. Rick wouldn’t let me. I felt trapped. I couldn’t work. Rick didn’t want his wife working. Even though he worked for Kaiser Steel as a machinist, and was on strike more often than working it seemed. Later, after his grandmother gave him a “tongue-lashing,” he let me take a couple of part time jobs and I enrolled in college.
One day, I just decided enough was enough. The world was passing me by. Shortly after watching the first moon landing on Rick’s aunt’s flickery black and white TV, I made a vow to myself. “I gotta get outta here and into the action.” It was a time of war protests, riots in Berkeley, the People demanding to be Heard!
I bought a bus ticket to Frisco, and was on my way. To where? I didn’t know or care. Something would turn up. It did. When I got off of the bus station, a sylph-like young woman with frizzy blond hair and gauzy, gypsy-esque clothing, handed me a flower and said, “Peace and Love.” I was supposed to then give her money, but instead, I said, “I want to join the cause. Who can I talk to about that?” She looked surprised, then grinned with perfectly straight white teeth that set off her natural, no make-up beauty. I was entranced. I wanted to be her. Yeah, right. Like I could EVER be like that.
Thinking about that scenario now, I am reminded of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. She always wanted to be soft, kind, generous, and loving like her mother instead of the fiery, ambitious, manipulative vixen she was. No use. Scarlett would forever be Scarlett. But what did I know then? Nadda.
Any-hoo, she said, “come with me.” She took me to a tall bearded young man who put his hands together and bowed, “Namaste.” After a little explaining, he handed me some flowers and a pouch to greet the incoming busses. I flung my satchel over my shoulder. It held my few belongings, money, etc. and proceeded to spread peace and love for a small donation.
After the “shift,” I asked where we lived. “We don’t live anywhere, but home is Golden Gate Park,” was the answer. Huh? Where? Usually we “crashed” in “pads” of other hippies. Some liked to sleep outside in the vast Park. We ate whatever we could in the way of pre-made food, deli sandwiches, candy bars, chips, etc.
Everything was shared, clothing, toiletries, money, and weed. Lots of weed. Not much acid or other stuff. Weed was their drug of choice. I did a little, but I’ve never really been interested in getting high too often. Or maybe I’m just not remembering.
One guy in the group had a small apartment in town that his parents left empty most of the time because they lived in the wine country. We stayed there sometimes and used the shower when we could. Of course, we had the iconic VW van with psychedelic paintings all over it, including a large peace sign.
We traveled to places where we could get donations, spread hippie sayings, and talk about hope for the future of a better world. Sometimes I hannded out underground newspapers on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco. I vaguely remember that the Grateful Dead lived together in an old Victorian, Painted Lady house near there.
After a couple of weeks I realized that this was not the lifestyle I wanted either. I was cold, hungry, and tired of the endless sameness of drugs, sex, and rock and roll (plus a sea of folk music). I was also tired of the lack of common sense, and pseudo-intellectualism that passed for being truly wise.
So, I went back to hubby, he forgave me, and I plotted my escape, which came in 1969. I told Rick that I was going to visit my mother in So Cal. I packed as much as I could in suitcases, boarded a plane and never looked back. As I write this, the song “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane,” by Peter, Paul, and Mary is running through my head. I enrolled in college, got a job, and began a new life. Well, maybe it was much the same, but with different slogans.
The whole experience was freeing and transformative. However, in hindsight, there was no way it was going to make the huge difference in society that we had hoped. Many of those idealistic, starry-eyed youth grew up to become bankers, brokers, and politicians. Many died of drug abuse, untreated disease, suicide, and other things that came along with the rampant pie-in-the-sky attitudes accompanied by emotional dysfunction. Others grew up to work for the betterment of us humans, women’s rights, civil liberties, and more. So, I guess it was the beginning of many good things, but we were so naive, thinking that we could create a Utopian society of fairness, peace, and where common sense would rule over greed an corruption.
Does all that sound familiar? In today’s world of 2012, the world is again in a attempt for the “people” to change things, for the people’s voices to be heard and heeded about corruption, greed, and cruelty. Thousands upon thousands are taking to the streets worldwide, demanding change. Those who want status quo are fighting back with violence and force. Ah, it brings me back. Being the eternal hippie that I’ve been told I am—even through my attempts to leave that behind—I am hoping that this time, there will be a difference. Maybe this time, real laws will be passed to keep greed and corruption in check and that the tide of the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer” will be stemmed.
Don’t misunderstand my meaning though, I am all for people working toward abundance, being successful, and having as much money as they earn. I am, however, dead against corrupted, greedy practices in order to achieve that success. I am against the flat out deception, and manipulation that attempts to keep the common folk from rising to success without resorting to the same degraded practices. This new uprising isn’t about poor people wanting to grab a piece of the pie, many wealthy people are in the streets protesting, or broadcasting their support. Michael Moore, Keith Olbermann, Natalie Portman, David Crosby and Graham Nash to name a few. So, even though the tie-die, faded jeans, headbands, beads, and flower power are different, maybe this time there will be a difference for the future.
Well, just listen to me. I guess the hippie is still there.
Peace and Love,