Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Sunday, June 17, 2012

C: The Summer of Love

One of the things I am wont to do in times of insomnia is surf Youtube on the old I-Pad.  I run across the most amazing things.  Last night it was a stroll down memory lane.  Here’s what I ran across:  

This film was produced in 1970 and it is Ms. Rita Abrams’ Strawberry Point (Mill Valley) fourth grade.  The Mill Valley song went as viral as you could go back then: a spot on the national news and then radio airtime, which is all I remember.  I loved the song back then, but this YouTube presentation is the first I recall of seeing the film.

Of course, there was one other way of going viral back then: the commercialization of the hippie movement’s lofty ideals of peace-love-harmony.   Remember this one from 1971:

1970 was the year I married, following my freshman year in college. I was smack in the middle of the whole peace-love-hippie movement with straight, long hair down to my waist, parted in the middle—just like you saw on about 90% of the girls in those two films.  I wore bell-bottom pants and halter tops, tire-tread sandals, bright colors annoupeace symbolncing my free-spiritedness.  Arkansas did not have the full-blown hippie movement  that California did (bit too many rednecks, I guess), we certainly felt a part of it.

My husband and I drove a green VW beetle with a peace symbol/American Flag(?) decal exactly like this one in the  center of the back window, advertising to the world that the occupants of this car were fully onboard with the times.  Hanging from the mirror of that bug was a long strand of love beads.

We all decried our inability to make the great cultural pilgrimage to Woodstock in August of 1969 (I was only 17—my Mama would never have allowed it). 

But, Woodstock long gone,  there was still a beacon of illumination to instruct us in our hippiedom.  This was, of course, California. And the ultimate goal of all hippies was San Francisco. We knew this because Scott McKenzie had told us this in 1967, which Wikipedia calls “the summer of love”:

I know people here in Arkansas who made the trek (at age 18) to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco, without knowing a person out there and solely to join this peaceful movement.  After all, Arkansas never had any “love-ins,” We did not even know how…must get to San Francisco to be shown by the “gentle people” who filled the streets of San Francisco and where there was held a perpetual “love-in.”

I look back over these videos with misty nostalgia at our idtrust over thirty ealism.  I think it largely amounted to a celebration of youth.  Remember the slogan about anyone over 30?

I remember our hubris, our railing against the “establishment” who had, in our eyes, so screwed up the world with a war in Asia and the materialism of post-WWII America.  We had it figured out.  We were, as McKenzie said, “a new generation with a new explanation.”

Right.

I look back at the Mill Valley video, and I still love it.  I love the simplicity of all these songs, the beautiful picture of carefree living in peace, harmony and joy.  And then the reality of my six decades of life intrudes, and I notice things.

Mill Valley is located 14 miles north of San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge.  Pretty pricey real estate, even back then.  These kids were not the usual—Francis Ford Coppola produced the film, for crying out loud, and there is maybe one African-American face in the crowd, although the Coke folks were more careful to tend to some multi-race balance.

The images of a society where your grade-school teacher is also carefree and gentle, wears her long hair in dog-ears with giant bows, and plays the guitar amongst a market-atmosphere (who needs money?) and with freedom to allow a gorgeous bare-chested flute player—well, these images are very attractive.  Yes, I love these images still.woodstock

But we still have war.  We still have materialism (whatever that is, really).  All our arrogance and assuredness that we had “new explanations” seems to have faded after all the fun.

And, in another post, I might just might tell you about my authentic hippie friends who went to Haight-Ashbury and what kind of gentleness they found there (not).

I don’t mean to sound cynical, because all these thoughts of love, peace and harmony really do make me feel good even as I am writing this.  I’d like to be able to buy the world a Coke and live in perfect harmony.  What a nice dream.

Sometimes it is the thought that counts. 

It was a special era.  It inspired a lot of good music, and I’msummer of love glad to have had the experience, such as I did bound to Arkansas as I was. 

Yes, it’s the thought that counts. And everyone needs a

summer of love.” 

Sigh. 

Peace, C.

7 comments:

kare said...

Hello C:
i was about the age of those 4th graders.Grew up in SanDiego.. my older siblings all participated in some way in the Hippie scene. i saw the results of that LOVe-in ideology "Free love"..
..Sounds So nice... It wasn't So pretty from where i stood.

i Do still love the music,but the 'Vibe'still makes me kinda sad; That hopefullness & desire for simplicity.

Did you notice the toddler trying to get a sip from a Hamms beer can? lol... but scarey, the lax attitudes were not always in the best interests of the child.
i Hope you write more about this.
How else can we learn if we don't speak up? Talk about our histories.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

For me it was all in the music! I wasn't into the political scene too much. I'm remembering a young James Taylor, Carole King, Gordon Lightfoot "If You Could Read My Mind"...
As we all discussed the other night--it really WAS the BEST music ever!
Cowgirl V

Linda Lou Rogers Averitt said...

loved the music too! good ppost

Vickie said...

Aw, C, I just loved this post... brought back the music memories for me, too. James Taylor was my fave I guess. I was a little younger, around 13-14 when I noticed all this going on - Woodstock, San Fran, etc. It was dreamy and awesome to my young mind at the time and I hated that I was too young for it all. Didn't really know what was going on about the politics and war. I had the long straight hair down to my waist, the bell-bottoms with my crack almost showing and beads, all that stuff, too, and I'd listen to my records and dream I was a true hippy. I had all the stickers and peace signs not on my car, but on my school bookcovers, and a peace sign necklace. Got my ears pierced, wore feathers, and my ahnk ring. What a trip down memory lane. Every time I see a picture of myself back then, 13-18, it really takes me back to that time, and I smile...
In retrospect, it was a fun time, but a dangerous time for those young people that went all out...

Zuzana said...

Beautiful recollection of time gone.;)) I feel the same about the 80's. It is bound to happen - we feel this way about the decade when we were young - as we were idealists, optimists and romantics.
I liked the 90's much less and the past decade held the least of my affection.;) Funny, right?
Still, I love the vision of your long hair, parted in the middle.;)
xoxo

Margie Abdin said...

Loved the post. Boy it does bring back memories. I too was a wanna be hippie. Never did the drugs but tried to look the part. Yes, we had the best music ever. It was an idealist time and then the real world intruded, adulthood.

Eggs In My Pocket said...

Just loved reading your wonderful memories! I love the song San Fransisco!

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