Summer of Love Redux

Mmmm, the Summer of Love.

I was living in San Francisco the year before (1966), and, in my 17 year old eyes, it was all magic, artists and musicians, color and innovation.

I was visiting family in Ann Arbor, Michigan when the media created the Summer of Love. In March 1967, two articles about the hip scene in the Haight Ashbury appeared, one in Time Magazine and one in Esquire. Before that date, none of the freaks I met in Ann Arbor had heard of the Haight; after that date, all of the freaks I met were planning to go. Multiply that times everywhere freaks were.

When I came back after a winter of wandering, the Haight was crowded and sodden with hard drug users and dealers, winos, panhandlers, young runaways, and various religious orders trying to recruit converts. So, I moved to the houseboat haven at Gate 5, Sausalito, which, in 1967, was all magic, artists and musicians, color and innovation.

I met Peter Coyote in the Haight Ashbury Free Store one day and learned about what the Diggers were doing that summer. Now THAT was magical: The response of the resident artists and musicians to the wave of human misery that was the Summer of Love breaking over the Haight Ashbury. They fed people, they gave away donated clothing and furnishings, they started a free clinic that still operates. It was compassion in action. I hope the Diggers are well celebrated in this year’s festivities.

Still Peace and Love,

Alicia Bay Laurel