View From a Cop: Recalling Those Wannabe Hippie Days

Steve Rose says hippies hung out all night, got hammered on booze and talked in perceived “hippie talk.”

Two elderly women were hospitalized recently after ingesting brownies containing marijuana during a funeral reception in Huntington Beach, Calif. They were treated for nausea, dizziness, and an inability to stand on their own.

Marijuana is heavily lobbied in the west and northwestern states, as medical treatment.

Otherwise, your 70’s probably aren’t the best time to start smoking dope. I’m sure there are plenty of seniors who were on the cutting edge of the hippie movement in the early 1960s. Accidentally dipping into a plate of pot-laced brownies would’ve probably come under the category of “very cool” to them.

There are plenty of 71-year-old retired hippies who were right in the middle of the 1960s and all that went with it.

My parents were heavily engrained in the suburban movement rather than the hippie movement although they did once host a “hippie party,” where everyone dressed up as hippies and did absolutely nothing else but resemble real hippies.

Hippies didn’t get tanked on liquor, smoke cigarettes from cigarette holders, and there was not one trace of incense, or, as far as I know, marijuana to be found. They simply hung out all night, getting hammered on booze and talking in perceived “hippie talk,” using phrases that hippies had long since abandoned; and looking like Sonny Bono impersonators.

They overused “Far out man” to the point of being arrested by the cliché police.  It sounded like a bad episode of “Dragnet.” In fact, the party would have been legendary if someone would have had the presence of mind to drop in as Sgt. Friday and do that long lecture he did at the end of each episode.

At that time, my career path was simple: I wanted to be a hippie. Unfortunately, I was just on the edge of the short end of the hippie movement, in that I had just entered my early teens.

My favorite part of the hippie movement was the “free love” part that was so talked about. In Atlanta, the hippie movement centered on 14th Street and Peachtree Road. Every Saturday night, the streets were full of hippies, weirdoes, winos, hookers, guys selling “The Great Speckled Bird” and stupid kids from the suburbs who were trying like hell to cash in on the “free love” concept.

The problem seemed to be centered on the fact that even hippies, with their “share everything” and “love the one you’re with” philosophies, were overtly discriminating to the average pimple-faced 16-year old kid from Chamblee, who was under the misconception that “free love” meant that hippie chicks would just bring him (me) into the fold - a sort of love-filled mosh pit. That stupid kid would spend the summer traveling around in a multi-colored school bus, cashing in on all that free love and three days of peace, and music on Max Yasgur’s farm, which became the site of the famous Woodstock Music Festival. 

Well, it didn’t exactly work out. First of all, I didn’t have the guts to leave home without permission and my father sure as hell wasn’t going to grant such permission. After all, if I wanted hippies, I’m sure he would gladly arrange another hippie party full of drunks. If I were not confused enough, this would surely put me over the top.  Quite simply, I was on the short end of the age bracket for Woodstock and the hippie movement. I was just a kid from the ‘burbs whose biggest life tragedy was trying to figure out why pimples had to appear on Friday night, and how the hell did I manage to get one directly on the tip of my nose? (I looked like I had a Rudolph the Reindeer starter kit.) 

Not attending the Woodstock Music Festival is on my list of regrets. I really wanted to go but just wasn’t willing to go the renegade route to get there. As much as I thought of myself as a rebel, I was no more than a paper rebel whose statement to the world consisted of an occasional forbidden cigarette and riding around on weekend nights with my buddy Vance. We drank beer and looked for “free love” in a hippie generation that apparently didn’t include us.

My quest for hippie-dom had failed so much that I didn’t try either of the Atlanta Pop Festival events that were easily within reach. I did not have what it took to be an entry-level hippie.

Max Yasgur would have been disappointed.


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