THE SUMMER OF LOVE

SUMMER OF LOVE PROCLAMATION-1967

“There are moments in time when a word or thought has such power it changes history; a generation so involved in the moment it becomes unstoppable; a spiritual awakening so profound that its very conception shatters perceptions, halts the world and makes people from all nations take notice.”

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Love is in the air in San Francisco again, or perhaps it’s just the memory of a love long past.

The 50 year Golden Anniversary of the Summer of Love, the counterculture movement that transformed San Francisco’s international reputation, looms on the horizon.

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This is Jimi (you know, Hendrix!) in the Panhandle area of Golden Gate Park. Playing for free in front of a sea of flower children.

By photographer Jim Marshall.

Marshall captured images of rock-’n’-roll greats like Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead on San Francisco streets in 1967. But his collection also showcases everyday scenes in the Haight.

The city cops closed Haight Street so the Dead could play for us for free (of course!)

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Looking at this photo, I can smell the eucalyptus-scented air, and feel the insistent caress of pure bliss. Ecstasy and joy.

It was uncanny. It was beautiful. It was real.

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See these girls? Inspired and filled with hope. Can you tell?

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I spent plenty of days in the park doing just what these lovely loving ladies are doing. I’d fill a basket and skip off to distribute my flower chains to tourists, policemen and friends. But then, everyone was a friend in that Time Of All Times. There were no strangers.

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100,000 young people flocked to San Francisco that year, transforming the previously nondescript Haight-Ashbury neighborhood into the de facto counterculture capital of America.

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Local filmmaker Peter Coyote calls it “a heady experience from which I have never recovered. Sitting down to dinner with 20 people, making music every night.”

Drugs were a sacrament. A nod and a smile to another flower-child on the street meant something you couldn’t put a name to.

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It began with a simple four-letter word. LOVE! In the 1960s this word became synonymous with a generation and a city called San Francisco. It was a concept, a belief deep in the hearts of all who were there (and those who wished they were).

Small communities of like-minded individuals and their “families” of communal creativity focused on poetry, art, folk music, jazz, and rock ’n roll, demanding to be free of societal restrictions, restraints and hang-ups.The message was clear – the world was uniting behind one principle and one thought. LOVE! and its affirmation of PEACE, COMPASSION and UNDERSTANDING.

The word was brought forth by musicians such as Arlo Guthrie, Peter Paul & Mary, Donovan, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane and many many more. It was carried on by English musicians like Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. The list is too long to attempt here.

Oh, but I have to add more, can’t help it. The Byrds, Cream, The Youngbloods, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, Van Morrison, The Chambers Brothers, Traffic, Scott McKenzie, The Mamas and The Papas, The Turtles. These are just a sampling. These were our prophets.

The international community was in awe of the explosion of creativity. All this started with that simple word, that simple thought: LOVE! And, a generation of freethinking people who were willing to stand up and be counted while proudly proclaiming their willingness to be different.

This period of change was commemorated by celebrating the SUMMER OF LOVE.

It Stood For:

• Our right to refuse to fight without judging those who did.

•Creativity, love and respect for all things. Our right to make a difference.

•Our right to think independently. Our willingness to share with others.

For me and I’d not hesitate to say for everyone in Haight Ashbury that summer, this was

THE album.

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I’ll be keeping track of the upcoming celebration plans. Not sure that I will go. I am afraid it could break my heart. Some things there are that cannot be duplicated. Honored, yeah, but not recreated. I gave it my best shot by writing my book, Under A Tie Dye Sky. You know, available at amazon.com and The Country Bookshelf on Main Street. This is a perfect time to visit my story, enter into the pages, time travel. I’ll take you there. Promise!

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Maybe this last picture does the best job of transporting me personally “home” to The Time Of All Times. Yes, I do believe this is the one.

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Love,

Suzee B

Comments

  1. You are an amazing wordsmith Suzee! I love the way you write, and your passion about that Time Of All Times is encompassed in every word, woven in with those daisy-chains, and encircled by the love that flowed so freely in San Francisco at that time.

    Personally I would not revisit Haight Ashbury, especially during the forthcoming celebrations, just because I do not belive that the atmosphere will be anywhere near the same. In order to be so, it would have to be so full of those emotions that ran riot in those days, the scents and sounds, and the amazing camaraderie. Maybe a trip later on, with some of those people with whom you shared all that experience, when the area is more peaceful, and only people like you will be there, not onlookers, and late-comers.

    Just my thoughts. Rarely can we ever recreate the times and feelings we cherish. Better to cherish those memories……

    Whatever, enjoy the reminiscing, make daisy chains when the snow clears, and string them everywhere, embroider your jeans with psychedelic flowers and patterns, and wear a flower in your hair every day!

    I was only a tiny part of it, but it was my time, and I do remember the peace marches, and the News telling us in UK how dreadful you all were, ha ha!!!

    Much love, Grauntie Kennel Maidxxx

    • but kennel maid,

      it is SO cool that your lovely husband, gruncle, was actually a part of that “pirate radio” scene, delivering food to the boat and part of it all. you guys both have, oh what shall i call it, ah TENDENCIES!! that lean toward those times. or you wouldn’t like ME, ha!

      anyway, i am with ya on the going back thing. although there was great music in the park for the 40th celebration. in the same meadow i hear. even sir paul was there. i think if i could look at it as something all of its own, not trying to get the magic back, it’d be fun, but i truly know in my soul that i couldn’t control the longing and the imagery and the sadness for the loss.

      i can however cherish the memories like you said.

      oodles of love,
      suzee B

  2. Oh, those are some of the best pictures my dear! I think I know the one of the Dead (in front of the Straight Theater?), but wow those are all just awesome and bring back so many memories!

    Looking forward to the anniversary celebration. I may go, but I may not for the same reasons … once a thing is gone you can never really get it back, can you. But I am inspired to go and finish my story, too.

    Let’s see that was the summer I was working downtown at the Big Insurance Company, while my first daughter was being born.

    RussT

    • rusty,

      if you go you will be a trusted on the scene reporter for me! man, just typing this to you transported me to the park…POWERFULLY.

      yeah, oh yeah…wow….yikes

      lost in space and love,
      suzee B

      • One of my fondest memories was playing on the flatbed truck in Speedway meadows, because the Youngbloods didn’t show … in front of all of you down there in front.

        And when it came around on the guitar and the whole crowd of people chimed in with the chorus I looked up for the first time at that sea of faces, and lost my place on the guitar (I got it back before the end though) … I’ve told you this before haven’t I?

  3. Beautifully written – as always.

    But where did it all go?

    Was it all a temporary dream?

    Why did so many wake from this dream and become something very different to what that “Summer of Love” seemed to promise?

    Where is all that love now? America desperately needs it.

    • good questions vanessa!

      the way i see it is that the darkness and Love’s light have been in a spiritual battle in an unseen dimension for a very very long time.

      in my book i talked about corruption that snuck in through greed and just plain meanness. it was a temporary dream, but fulfilled its purpose. i think this dream has always existed and shifted into new shapes as required. it seems that those who’ve been able to pick up the loose ends of the tattered dream are usually few in number compared to the big world of mankind.

      for instance, in camelot, king arthur dreams of tempering force and strength (might) with justice (right). to me, these are warring forces in the ongoing spiritual battle. in the legendary story (and was it only legend? and if so does it really matter?!) people in those times are unable to distinguish between the wrong use of might as a tool for rule by strength as opposed to using might for justice. arthur feels there is a HUGE importance of justice (Love) over strength. of course, arthur’s beautiful dream is an “impossible dream”. . . a song from yet another story revealing the existence of THE dream in the hearts of mankind. so king arthurc sends a youngster with a message and encourages him to run, run, run through the battle lines, to not fight, but spread the truth to those with ears to hear that “once there was a time, for one brief shining MOMENT, that was known as camelot!” and this would keep the dream alive.

      i’m rambling on here, thinking out loud!

      so our dream in the 60s played its part in the ongoing story of a broken world and a handful of visionaries to keep the dream going. it is a child-like dream, but it is not dead. the dream is of hope, simply put. to get this broken world through the shit until all things are made new. not all new things, but all the glorious spectacle of nature we have now remains, only is returned to what it was meant to be.

      “some may say i’m a dreamer, but i’m not the only one…” by john lennon. and the rest of that song nails it.

      as i said, in regard to The Time Of All Times, it lasted for a blink of an eye, and when it ended, the hippy element became “turned”, became yuppies and the flower child element became believers in the spiritual sense. there is a sly, unkind addiction attached to materialism compared to a certain peace attached to believing that god’s got this whole mess, truly is the blessed controller and that’s where trust enters the scene. i’m not saying materialists are unlovable, in fact i am one myself by default! it happens, i am human.

      i know you understand i am only stating my OPINION! i.e. that this show, with its ever-changing cast of characters will go on until the reset button to restore this breath-taking creation is pushed. that’s the place in the dream where i’m living out my part day to day. and sadly day to day i often forget this big picture, you know, forget not only my part, but the whole play.

      you asked the very questions that obviously start a fire in me!

      LOVE
      your suzee B

      • to add a few words in regards to john lennon’s song…”imagine”, i said he nails it. really just the chorus is what i refer to. other parts of the song are up for grabs, but this is what i’m talking about . . .

        ” . . . No need for greed or hunger
        A brotherhood of man
        Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you
        You may say I’m a dreamer
        But I’m not the only one
        I hope some day you’ll join us
        And the world will be as one.”

  4. 1967 was the year that we lived just down the road from you in Fort Ord. I have vague recollections of the people though nothing that memorable. I was almost 4!I don’t think anyone would be able to recreate the emotions and the energy that existed at that time.. it was truly a once in a lifetime or even once in a millennium event. The promise seems to have been lost but a new energy is being formed that may do some good. I have hope that it will. Lots of love to you and all. I may just need to reread the book as well.

    • right on tania!

      as i commented above in what turned into an embarrassingly long reply to vanessa, i don’t think the dream ever dies, the remnant of it morphs its way through history. Love is alive. forever! be immersed in the new energy of the promise you feel being formed. who knows?

      xoxoxoxooxoxo
      suzee B

  5. Not a dream that’s dead, but a truth that lives. The ’60s changed me, made me, but I believe the original movement started with the same word LOVE some 2014 years ago, saved me. Although only a remainder still believe today, it changed the world then, and continues to change the world today in the hearts of those who accept that LOVE and are blessed by His Grace… the 1960s were a blessed follow up of those who chose to follow LOVE way back then… and refused to stand down. No surrender to the dark side because; LOVE will find a way.

  6. What a TRIP !!
    I’m glad ( as “Cream” sang so poetically; “I’m SO Glad” ) that I found your blog. Those of us who were there that summer are such a small number of people compared with all the people who couldn’t go, or put it off, or later WISHED they HAD gone, and like you said, it can never be the same, it wasn’t a Disney/George Lucas Production; you can’t stop Time, or a Spiritual Walk, or a Prayer for Peace in The World, and you can’t erase Events like Kent State; you people who LIVED there in those times ( I went to see what was going on, a Tourist )
    you SAW the change that was there, the “Spirit” of Love in your hearts, the “need” to be a human someplace putting flowers down gunbarrels; you LIVED a statement.
    This is a great blog.

  7. oh wow, L.K. since i discontinued blogging after about 5 years, i post randomly and then i forgot to keep checking comments on this one. i LOVE your comments. you were there. maybe i hugged you since i liked to surprise tourists! i so appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. you’d love my book. i can tell. you’re one of the ones i wrote it especially for 🙂 i’m going to post another blog next tuesday may 9th. maybe you’ll check it out. i ver much like what you said, “IT WASN’T A DISNEY/LUCAS PRODUCTION!!!!!

    thanks again
    love
    suzee B

    • oh wow, L.K. since i discontinued blogging after about 5 years, i post randomly and then i forgot to keep checking comments on this one. i LOVE your comments. you were there. maybe i hugged you since i liked to surprise tourists! i so appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. you’d love my book. i can tell. you’re one of the ones i wrote it especially for 🙂 i’m going to post another blog next tuesday may 9th. maybe you’ll check it out. i ver much like what you said, “IT WASN’T A DISNEY/LUCAS PRODUCTION!!!!!

      thanks again
      love
      suzee B

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