March 22, 2004

Summer of Love, Winter of Haight

By Tom Love © 2004

I remember San Francisco the Winter after the Summer of Love, January 1969. I was in the Army, head shaved, up from Fort Ord for a couple of weeks, visiting Dale who had tuned in, turned on and dropped out to work at the Post Office and had an apartment in the Tenderloin district. Dale bought a pound of pot, had hidden it in the top of the living room closet. He worked nights and I would stay up late with headphones on, listening to KSAN, smoking his dope. The Mothers, the Airplane, Big Brother, the Fillmore, the Haight, Zap Comix. Too bad the dope was not really that good! Maybe it was male hooch, no buzz. It didn't matter.

Dale and I would go for walks in the Tenderloin and eat noodles in Chinatown. We'd marvel our good fortune to be stoned out hippies in San Francisco during the Age of Aquarius. I would comment on the beauty of the women we'd pass by, Dale would explain that they weren't actually women. Dealers would peddle their dope in a monotone multisyllable, "speedhashacidmesclinegrass." Down in the Haight, longhairs would openly stare at my military shaved head.

Barbara lived there with Dale too. That was before I knew what a nervous breakdown was. She had one. She would stay in bed for days. One day, a better day, we all went to Mill Valley across the Golden Gate, past Sausalito, up in Marin County. Barb knew someone who had a house there. It was cold, foggy. The house was vacant, heat turned off. We all piled into a big bed and covered up with down comforters to keep warm. In an open bedroom window suddenly appeared a wild Bobcat. We freaked! The Bobcat (20 ferocious lbs.) freaked and ran! We laughed.

It was Richard Brautigan's San Francisco, R. Crumb's San Francisco, City Lights Bookstore, where Dale sold his self published poetry chapbooks. Where Ginsburg recited from Howl and Ferlingetti wrote She.

I was scheduled for Nam but by hook of fate didn't go. After San Francisco, I was stationed in Germany where I spent a year smoking hash which was definitely not the impotent male version of the plant. And then it was just a year after that I learned all about nervous breakdowns.

Barbara became owner and CEO of a boutique, The Joyful Alternative which recently closed after 34 successful years. Dale went on to have a great many misadventures and is currently a screen writer in Burbank. Me, I just sit and play this here guitar.

Tom Love is a writer from Atlanta, GA.

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