Monday, 21 December 2015

Hippie Redux: #31 Why I'm Glad I'm Over 65!

Pictured: Several bands in front of one home.

San Francisco and the Summer of Love

Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco was an area of grand ornate Victorian mansions bordering on Golden Gate Park. In the early Sixties the cheap-rent rooming houses set up in the now run-down buildings attracted artists and musicians. Several local rock bands, including the Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead, lived communally each in their own house. With the freedom of the park next door and the Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom not far, the area became the home of the Hippies. In January 1967 there was a Human Be-In in the park that drew 30,000. Communal groups like the Diggers, the Family Dog and the Free Clinic cared for the community and put on events.
The media covered it all. That summer, called the Summer of Love, I received a letter from a friend who had made it there. My hitchhiking took me as far as Cleveland where food poisoning and a hospital stay turned me around. But not others – 100,000 youth soon swamped the area. The scene became less than ideal. Dirt, disease, needles, abuse. In October a mock funeral was held called “Death of the Hippie” to encourage people to take the revolution back home.
The original culture, I suspect, slowly drifted out of the city to the North. In 1996-7 I made numerous visits to a girlfriend in Humboldt County, Northern California. Up in those wooded, pot-growing hills, I found many beautiful people, and discovered some of what I had missed in 1967.

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