COVER- Autumn of love: Locals look back on the summer of '67
Summer of Love: It wasn't all sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.
I finished law school in 1965 and passed the D.C. bar. But all the while I was thinking of what Peter Taylor told me, "Don't be a lawyer. Be a writer."
So I got a fellowship to the Iowa Writers' Workshop and crossed the Mississippi for the first time. I lived in an old farmhouse with two other guys and had a job tutoring students at the Iowa Law College. Then I worked on Harold Hughes' campaign for the U.S. Senate. I also campaigned for Eugene McCarthy, and was elected as a delegate from Muscatine County to the Iowa Democratic state convention in Des Moines.
I got married; my wife became pregnant.
I had four impacted wisdom teeth– husbands of pregnant wives, in the absence of the couvade, often turn up with something. The impacted teeth were hacked out by a dental student with a hammer and chisel. I was awake, though I got a shot of something like sodium pentathol. I loved it, felt wonderful. While the student dentist changed sides, I said to the nurse, "Your eyes are beautiful, your face is beautiful, your mustache is beautiful."
Okay, there were drugs.
Hughes came by to sympathize and/or to see when I'd be back at work. My salary was to come from the proceeds of a pig-roast fund raiser, and part of my job was to make sure folks showed up. Hughes gave a stump speech, actually standing on a stump.
The Chicago [1968 Democratic] convention: my wife and I were there, sometimes in the convention hall, sometimes wandering around outside. She was five and a half months pregnant, so we stayed clear of the tear gas.
Hughes gave the nominating speech for McCarthy. He would probably have been for Bobby Kennedy. He'd said admiringly of Kennedy that there were lots of people who would vote for him, and their second choice was George Wallace. He also said– and this shows the temper of the times by that point in the late summer– that we could just take this convention over, just physically take it over.
Hubert Humphrey was nominated. He wasn't as hapless a campaigner as Al Gore, another vice-president trying to become president in the wake of a more charismatic figure, but Nixon won.
My wife and I and baby Maud moved to a tiny island in Narragansett Bay. I came to love Rhode Island as much as Iowa, salt water and salt marshes as much as black earth. But that's another story.
Summer of '07: I was in Pennsylvania on the banks of the upper Delaware River re-writing, re-writing, re-writing, gazing admiringly at the river and seeing to the repair of my flooded cabin.
Summer of Love: The Summer of Love didn't arrive in Charlottesville until two or three years after '67. UVA in particular was really removed from the early era of student protests and hallucinogenic drugs. But by 1970, I can remember naked people walking down Rugby Road during Easters. And in 1969, there was a "honk-in" for peace which was part of a national moratorium against the war after the invasion of Cambodia. I heard about it on the radio and drove down out of curiosity to see what was happening. We parked at the Corner Parking Lot and headed toward the intersection of Emmet and Ivy.
I got as far as Mincer's when I saw an Albemarle County deputy tearing anti-war posters from telephone poles and walls. I confronted him because he was violating the Constitutional right to freedom of speech. He told me to be quiet and move on, and when I wouldn't, I got arrested. Two officers dragged me and my friend– who had been pleading with me to shut up– to a Mayflower moving van parked in front of the Rotunda and filled with 65 others, including maintenance workers, a pizza delivery man, and students who didn't have anything to do with the protest but were simply going to Alderman Library to study.
One thing I particularly remember was that school dress codes were rigidly enforced. Male students were sent home if their hair touched their collars, and principals carried rulers to measure the lengths of girls' skirts to make sure they weren't too high. And, for a while, bell-bottoms were prohibited. I won't mention the drugs.
Summer '07: I ran and ran and ran and did things with my son. And I worked on my bamboo. I have 18 varieties of bamboo, and cultivating them is my life.
Summer of Love: Word of the peace movement came late to Southwest Virginia, as is evident from the fact that I'm holding a shotgun. Still, I spent the Summer of Love in hot pursuit of it.
At 17 in 1967– days of teenage subterfuge– I lived a double life, an English literature student and classical pianist by day; by night, a practitioner of dirty dancing at the Wytheville Country Club, gyrating to songs like "In the Midnight Hour." On Friday nights I twirled my baton at football games during half-time.
In the middle of the summer, I was sent off to band camp, away from the examining eyes of my mother and the restrictions of my boyfriend, and spent the time sun-bathing and sneaking smokes. I had promised my boyfriend I wouldn't dance with any boys, only girls.
"The way you dance?" He seemed suspicious.
As he should have been, because the great thing about the dance floor at band camp was that it was outside, under the stars, and someone always cut out the flood lights. My actual dance partner was always a secret.
Come fall and football season, the phone would ring.
My mother: "It's the Rescue Squad. They want to know if you'll be twirling your fire baton. If so, they're coming to the game."
"Yes, I'm twirling fire."
–edited by Hawes Spencer
• January 6 - U.S. Marines and Army of South Vietnam launch joint operation in the Mekong River delta
• January 6 - Daily Progress local headline: "Gay hats brighten the winter months"
• January 9 - Dave Matthews born in South Africa
• January 10 - Six Charlottesville men fined $10 each for coin-flipping at the White Café
• January 14 - The "Human Be-In" draws up to 30,000 to Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
• January 27 - The Doors release their self-titled debut album ("Light My Fire," "The End")
• February 14 - Aretha Franklin releases "Respect"
• February 18 - New Orleans DA Jim Garrison announces he has "solved" John F. Kennedy's assassination
• March 13 - With 37 co-sponsors, Eugene McCarthy introduces Equal Rights Amendment in U.S. Senate
• April 5 - Gray Line begins "Hippie Hop" bus tours through Haight/Ashbury
• April 15 - Martin Luther King and hundreds of thousands march against the Vietnam War in New York
• April 28 - Citing the Koran, Muhammad Ali refuses to register for induction to the armed services
• April 29 - Fidel Castro declares all intellectual property the property of all people
• May 1 - Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu wed in Las Vegas
• May 19 - The U.S.S.R. ratifies a treaty with England and U.S. banning nuclear weapons in space
• May 26 - FDA reveals that it studied the issue and found that smoking banana peels doesn't produce a high
• June 2 - Beatles release Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
• June 12 - In Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court nullifies the state law banning interracial marriage
• June 16 - Monterey Pop Festival opens (Hendrix, Joplin, Dead, Mamas and the Papas, Ravi Shankar)
• Jun 25 - Beatles sing "All You Need Is Love" on live satellite broadcast to 400 million worldwide
• June 29 - Actress Jayne Mansfield dies in a car crash en route to New Orleans
• June 30 - U.S. troop levels in Vietnam reach 448,400
• July 7 - Time Magazine puts trend on cover: "The Hippies: the Philosophy of a Subculture"
• July 11 - Newark race riots begin long hot summer
• July 23 - 43 die in Detroit's 12th Street race riots
• August 23 - Debut album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are you Experienced?, released
• August 27 - Beatles manager Brian Epstein dies of an alcohol/sedative overdose
• April 30 - LSD report in Science magazine misread by some as linking drug to chromosomal damage
• June 19 - Paul McCartney confirms to BBC that he has taken LSD four times
• June 20 - People unfamiliar with recent Beatles albums express shock, surprise
• August 7 - George and Patti Harrison visit Haight/Ashbury
• August 24 - Abbie Hoffman drops 1,000 $1-bills to floor of the New York Stock Exchange
• August 25 - Beatles go to Wales to visit Maharishi Yogi and learn Transcendental Meditation
• August 25 - American Nazi party leader George Lincoln Rockwell murdered at Arlington strip-mall
• September 17 - Jim Morrison sings the word "higher" on the Ed Sullivan Show; never invited back
• October 2 - Thurgood Marshall sworn in as the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice
• October 8 - Marxist guerrilla and future icon Che Guevara killed in Bolivia by U.S.-trained troops
• October 9 - A 21-year-old college dropout named Jan Wenner publishes first issue of Rolling Stone
• October 17 - The musical Hair opens off-Broadway
• October 18 - The Jungle Book, the last animated film personally supervised by Walt Disney, is released
• November 1 - Progress: Lane High students dance the "Shing-a-ling" while still-all-girls St. Anne's prefers "Boogaloo"
• November 2 - Vitalis hair tonic on sale for 49 cents at Standard Drug (now CVS)
• November 21 - Lyndon Baines Johnson signs Air Quality Act: "Either we stop poisoning our air– or we become a nation in gas masks."
• December 8 - Otis Redding records "Dock of the Bay"
• December 10 - Otis Redding dies as his band's plane crashes into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin
• December 22 - Owsley Stanley's California laboratory raided; he says 350,000 doses of LSD were for "personal use"
And off I would march in my white boots, carrying my gasoline can.
Summer of '07: Forty years and three skin cancers later, I stayed out of the sun this summer. I'm still writing, still playing the piano, and I still twirl in my backyard. But in my dreams, I'm on the football field, giving the quarterback the eye but leaving with someone else. "I'm gonna wait ‘til the stars come out and see the twinkle in your eye. In the midnight hour."
Summer of Love: I was in Vietnam in the summer of '67, fighting for my country in a war that I never should have been involved in. I witnessed death and friends committing suicide. I went to Vietnam on a ship for 30 days where a lot of weird things happened. I started to say that gets you prepared for war, but nothing gets you prepared for war.
Like Iraq, the war in Vietnam was probably based on a lie. I get emotional when I talk about it because very few people know I served in the Army. I also get choked up when I think about how naive I was. Knowing what I now know, I think I still would have served, and I think many of my peers still would have served. But it filled us with fear, filled us with many emotions. We tried to laugh to keep from crying. So that's my remembrance– trying to stay alive and survive so I could come back and return to school.
Summer '07: A major blessing because I now have time to think, remember, and write.
Summer of Love: I was a junior in high school, a supporter of Richard Nixon, and president of my school's National Honor Society. In the summer of '69, though, I hitchhiked to Woodstock. I was living in Syracuse, and it was only two and a half hours away. My ride dropped me off at the fence, and then the fence went down. I was in the fifth row when the whole thing started. I saw Ravi Shankar, Santana, the Jefferson Airplane– a whole lot of great performers. I had to walk 10 miles to get out of there because the traffic wasn't moving at all. I had shorter hair then than I have now. No beard, even at Woodstock.
Summer '07: I saw the Sound of Music at Ash Lawn-Highland.
Summer of Love: I had just graduated from high school and was headed for college at "Mary Wash," then the women's branch of UVA, in Fredericksburg, where I stayed for two years before transferring to George Washington University in D.C. That fall at Mary Washington was when I really got turned onto psychedelic rock and all the accompanying stuff. I had all the albums: Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Hendrix, Buffalo Springfield, and of course the Beatles, in addition to groups like the Lemonpipers and Silver Apples, now gone from our lives forever. But we were listening and dancing to Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, Aretha, and James Brown, too.
I was just thinking as I was having a cup of coffee the other day about the summer of '67 and how not only was I wondering if the guy I was dating in high school and I would survive going off to college, I was also wondering if the other guy I was dating, who was enlisting in the Marine Corps and would soon to be shipped off to Vietnam, would make it back in one piece. He did, eventually. I didn't associate him with flower power, etc., which is what I usually think of, kneejerk– 1967. In any case, it was Major Heartbreak all the way around, as can be imagined.
Most of my hippie-chick, paisley bell-bottom, aviator-glasses life was jump-started that first school year, 67/68, which is when the East Coast finally caught on to what the West Coast was doing. I went to my first Happening that year... we just sort of congregated in a park and sat around on the ruined grass and got stoned and smiled a lot. Maybe someone waxed political (or poetical?), but no one paid much attention. It was beautiful, man.
Summer of '07: I spent a few days helping my daughter move to Berkeley, where she's starting graduate school in journalism. Berkeley, the perfect place to be 40 years after the very groovy summer of love. I loved being there.
Summer of Love: I was going into my fourth year at UVA, and I was in ROTC, so I knew from watching TV and reading the news that I was going off to Vietnam at some point. So I was just having as much fun as possible, living like there was no tomorrow, and trying to pretend I wasn't worried about going off to war.
That summer, though, I spent a lot of my nights going to McIntire Park for dance parties. They'd book a band, and there wouldn't be any drinking or anything, just dancing all night at the shelter.
I can honestly say I didn't know what marijuana was until I went off to navigators' training in San Diego, after I graduated. And there was a lot of it in Vietnam. It hadn't gotten to my group of white collar college kids. I was a Zeta Psi, and we drank gallon after gallon, keg after keg, of beer.
Summer of '07: I had knee replacement surgery and was in the hospital for a month. After that, I was doing physical therapy to rehab it. I had also accepted the coaching job at Albemarle, and we started practicing in August getting to know each other.
Summer of Love: It was my first summer away from home. I was a second-year drama student, and I'd gotten my first paid job with the Penn State Summer Theatre Festival, working as an apprentice to get my Actors' Equity card. They hired me to do two plays, but the contract said three. To justify my meager salary, they created a role for me in Dürrenmatt's The Physicists. In the original play, a nurse gets murdered offstage. In this version, I was the nurse, and as people were coming into the theater, a mad scientist strangled me. I was on the floor the first act as the dead nurse.
I think [State College] was Happy Valley, it was so isolated. It was pretty removed from [drug experimentation]. Alcohol was the drug of choice. I don't remember anyone smoking dope.
Two years later, I was supposed to go to Woodstock and my sister said, "Sorry, my dear, you're my maid of honor."
Summer of '07: I had my hand in a paint bucket and helped my husband launch a new business.
Summer of Love: That was the year my anti-war experience began. There was a student strike, and I was the leader of my ninth-grade class at James Madison High School in Brooklyn. I remember I was challenged by the math teacher who taunted all the students for the free day off. But I had all my arguments together because my father was very anti-war and talked about it at the dinner table. There were so many demonstrations, and I saw Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin... a lot of protests.
It could have been in 1968 or '69, but this was the most summer of love thing I remember: a rumor spread all over Brooklyn that the Grateful Dead were going to play in Prospect Park, which is sort of the Central Park of Brooklyn. We met people going through the woods trying to find this concert. By the time we got to the meadow, there were several thousand people. Well, the whole rumor was untrue, but we spent the whole day partying in the park. I remember a lot of long hair, a lot of pot smoke in the air, and impromptu music.
Summer of '07: On July 21 I met some good friends from my teen years in New York. We went to Prospect Park and saw a tribute to Doc Pomus with Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, and Ben E. King from the Drifters.