Musings from Long Ago–Hippies and Freaks

A repost from March, 2015 that no one noticed then.

I never fully embraced the hippie life. I had more essential things to do with my life–protesting the war and trying to get an education post-Vietnam. The nuance between freaks and hippies escapes me now. Which countercultural group did I identify with more? Hmm, can’t say that the issue presented itself forthrightly as a decision that needed making. Unlike my favorite Pres., Bill, I must confess to inhaling–frequently. So when it came to freak versus frat on campus, there could be no doubt in which camp I belonged. Boozers and dopers in Nam were analogous to the squares versus hippies. I didn’t drink there.

Did stick-on yellow flowers adorning my blue Chevy Malibu make me a hippie? I don’t know. I bought the car through the PX while still in Vietnam and drove it to and from Ft. Knox during my final year in the army. I kept it for a few more years until it became too trouble-prone. Those were not the best years for GM.

In 1970, I attended ‘Galena in Wadena’ (Iowa), a three-day rock festival. The event featured 30 bands. Like Woodstock, it happened on a farm. Unlike Yasgur’s place, there were only forty thousand people—according to later news reports. Galena had no rain or mud, either—thankfully. Some weed sold as Panama Red seared my throat with only a little buzz. My single day there included the Chambers Brothers, Poco, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, among others. Time Has Come Today and Love, Peace and Happiness alone were worth the trip–Chambers Brothers were one unto themselves. 

Elephant bells and platform shoes became my club apparel soon after. In ’71, Liz, my second wife, pierced my left ear. I wore the earring through the remaining years of college and most of law school, taking it out only when it came time to venture into the uptight legal world. Later, with just a few more years left before retirement from the Fairfax County job I had in Northern Virginia, the post returned to the ear. Why the hell not? No more need to dress for success. A ponytail came next, preparing for our move to New Mexico a few years hence.

Finally, all the guys who never had posts, studs, hoops or dangles in their youth began piercing their ears long after I did. Some even went with tats a few years later. Getting tattoos in your sixties is silly, in my opinion—the era passed you by on that front if you weren’t a sailor or a marine in the 1950s or 1960s. The times are always changing. Like the width of neckties, something I never wear now, except for funerals or weddings. You do risk other people snickering trying to be of another cultural age than your physiological one. But hey–it’s your life; do what you want to do or be. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Musings from Long Ago–Hippies and Freaks

  1. I’m with you on the tattoo thing, John. I understand that many people look at it as art, but for many it’s about following a trend. People are a bunch of sheep when it comes down to it. I’m all about personal freedom, so it’s their right. Yet, I’m amused seeing all these 60 and 70-year-olds running around with fresh tattoos. It’s gotten to the point where I take pride in not having any.

  2. I remember reading about those golden days. I wasn’t aware there was a ‘Woodstock’ like gig going on in Iowa, albeit, much smaller than Woodstock. 🙂

    1. It didn’t disappear–I saw it before commenting. The web is strange today–not just on this site. But “Galena in Wadena” was an enjoyable event. I left out how there were a couple families where a parent shared the weed with an adolescent. [I did dump the 2nd post about disappearing.]

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