Monday, April 25, 2011

Hippies, the free spirited kids from the sixties that touched our lives.

I vividly remember the first time I saw a hippy, it was in the late sixties, either 67 or 68 and my dad was driving us somewhere on the out skirts of Grangeville. We were driving along the highway when we came upon a man hitch hiking, he had beads, dirty long hair with a head band, a back pack, sunglasses, jeans and a shirts with a peace sign on the front of it. He was walking down the road with a his thumb out and a big smile on his face. My dad passed him, there would have been no room in the car had he wanted to stop, waved at him and told us that man was a hippy. We all peaked out the window to see the man like we would have peaked out at a polar bear. We were looking at an oddity in our community.

During one of our trips back from Arizona a few years later we were in a Volkswagon bus that my dad had bought. My dad for all of my childhood wore a beard from October to March of each year, he stopped wearing them in 1980. We were driving down the road, on route 66, and the hitchhikers, alot of them hippies, would wave proudly at him and give him the peace sign. We was one of them, in their minds, a bus, a beard and a vehicle full of kids. My dad would give them rides sometime, usually when us kids weren't in the vehicle. It was fun to see them waving at us as we drove by.

The summer we moved to Corvallis, from Arizona, a hippy and his girl came walking down the road to our house. They were, or at least she was, from New York and they were finding themselves in the Rockies, they spent a week or so camped out in our yard. Mom and dad had checked them out and found them to be just kids on summer break, the girls I believe was to go back to school in the fall, the hippy was going to be off to new pastures, a summer of love, I believe in retrospect. He would spend hours practicing his hitch hiking stance. He taught us all just how to stand, how our thumb should be positioned for the best results. He taught us how to smile just right and catch a ride. We found him to be a lot of fun. We couldn't understand why he and the girl slept in the tent together, if they weren't married, and that they had no plans to marry at all was unbelievable to us. One morning they were gone, just left with no warning. I suppose the open road had called to them.

One day when our older kids were very small we were driving down the road, on a scenic byway, and the kids were being rowdy in the back seat. They were excited for whatever reason, maybe we were on our way to their grandparents, I don't actually recall where we were going. I had tried to calm them with no success so I used one of my parents old saying, "if you don't settle down and be good I am going to give you to the hippies." Bug, who was usually the hardest to settle, as he, we learned later had ADHD, immediately sat as still as he could be and didn't move or say a word for miles. I didn't really think anything about it, at the time, it was just pleasant that they were quiet and enjoying the ride. Bug was around three. About a week later I was driving down to the gas station to get gas and passed the local off ramp to the freeway. There was a hitch hiker walking up the ramp. I said, "there is a hippy", just in passing. Bug sat up like I had shot him. He stood on the back seat and looked out the window with great concern. I thought his actions odd but didn't worry he was always a curious child. All of a sudden he said, "mama, that is just a man." I said "what?" He said, "mama that isn't a hippy, that is just a man" I said, "honey a hippy is just a man". I to this day don't know what he thought a hippy was, and can't imagine the scare that he had had when I was going to give him to his fear, but I never again told my kids I was going to give them to something along the road.

His innocent little voice still rings out to me all these years later, hippies even when I was a child were just men, or mostly kids trying to find their way in this world, and I am glad I had a chance to glimpse at their world if only for a second..... tomorrow.

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