This is probably not a revelation to anyone, but I am a hippie through and through and have been for a very long time. So, what does that even mean in today's world? We no longer live in the 60s and 70s, the heyday for the hippie movement. We are living in very dark times in this country. We're facing misogyny, racism, homophobia, bullying and overt meanness and intolerance every day. And this is being led by our own president and world leader. To me, being a hippie is about being against all those things. It’s about tolerance, acceptance and flexibility.
I was born into a conservative Republican household in 1953. My dad’s hero was Richard M. Nixon. He even had a photo of himself shaking hands with Nixon hung proudly in the living room. My brother grew up to embrace those same values, which are very different today then they were then. At one point, he even joined the John Birch Society. He is now disillusioned with his party of choice, and my dad must be rolling in his grave to see what the Republican party has become today. Although I was indoctrinated early on to believe in conservatism, it never rang true for me. I always championed for the underdog, opposing the Viet Nam war, the death penalty and supporting civil rights and feminism. But, I didn’t realize I was a hippie until I moved to the West Coast.
I knew I didn’t fit into the mold that I had been poured into in my hometown of Stamford, Connecticut. Nothing made sense. There were no opportunities to expand my horizons unless I took a train to New York City. Every time a coffeehouse or other music venue opened or a community center for teens, it was quickly closed. The only way to amuse ourselves was through alcohol and drugs, which were prevalent with easy access. That didn’t seem right to me. Even the church run coffeehouse didn’t last. However, like everyone else, I dove into that world and quickly discovered psychedelics. LSD opened me up to limitless possibilities. I suddenly saw the world so clearly. I not only saw the injustices, but I was empowered to try to change things. Soon, I met Paul Cavanaugh, who would later become my husband, and we left to hitchhike across the country on New Year’s Day in 1975. We eventually found ourselves in San Francisco in a hippie commune for artists, and my real education began.
Here was a place where I finally felt as though I belonged. The building was filled with radicals. I learned about whole foods and vegetarianism. I learned about radical politics. I became comfortable with my body for the first time. I met members of SDS, Black Panthers and more. I learned that there was more to life than finding a husband and settling down to a safe middle-class lifestyle. I did end up getting married, under protest, when I became pregnant. It was still hard to be unmarried with a child, and since my parents were threatening to disown me, Paul insisted, and I finally relented. I look at my wedding photos now and see how angry I felt at being pushed into this contract I wanted no part of.
We raised our children in a hippie lifestyle in an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance with whole organic foods, growing and preserving our own food, healing with herbs and other natural remedies, living simply and remembering the important things in life. We were free of societal constraints, going on the road when we felt like it, befriending good people regardless of their race, creed or sexual orientation and trying to pass those beliefs on to our children. Recently, a friend asked to see photos of me as a hippie. I thought, look at me now. I am still a hippie through and through and always will be. I believe in peace, love and harmony.
The definition of Hippie according to the urban dictionary is as follows.
A Hippie is a person who was raised under the ideological system that came out of the tumultuous 1960's in North America and western Europe. They are either of the flower-child/baby boomer generation or that generations' subsequent offspring. They possess a core belief set revolving around the values of peace and love as being essential in an increasingly globalized society, and they are oftentimes associated with non-violent anti-governmental groups. There is a stigma of drug abuse attached to the hippies that is prevalent to this day, specifically the use and abuse of marijuana and hallucinogens. Many rock movements, poets, artists, and writers from the 1960's to today have associated with this movement, most prominently The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Phish. There are others too numerous to name. The movement, then and now, is considered a sub-culture by sociologists that associates itself with the left in all its political opinions. The conservative right often berates and abuses the opinions of people who associate themselves with the hippie movement and/or lifestyle, as they consider it dangerous and degenerative to a society to favor liberalism to such an extent.
Here is another photo from my wedding with some of the residents from the commune in attendance.
Our first child was born in Santa Cruz, California in 1975. I had just turned 22, and Paul was 19. He had left home at the age of 14 and had lived on the road until I met him, and we moved in together. He soon took me for the ride of my life, and I've never looked back.
Then a few years and two children later living in Oregon. Many years later, our third child was born in Albany, NY. We had three children, all born in different states.
But ... once a hippie, always a hippie.
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