Growing Up In The Sixties, Los Angeles “The Times They Were A Changin”
By Linda Lee Laurel
It was 1967 The Summer of Love. The times they were changing, I was noticing that guys were growing their hair and my hip friends were dressing different. There was something in the air and I could feel the excitement. It would be an extreme understatement to say there was a whole lot going on that summer.
I know for me it was an entire lifetime. I had just finished my sophomore year in high school and I was wondering if I even wanted to go back. The distinct memory was the young friends of mine returning to school from Viet Nam with prosthetic legs and other friends that were killed.
I took it in stride, I was young and didn’t understand the significance as of yet. I grew up in a small town in the east valley of Los Angeles had friends that I had known since elementary school.
One of them was Christine she lived a few blocks away from me. We started hearing about rock concerts at the Shrine Auditorium on the weekends. We were meeting people who were doing acid and having parties with strobe light shows in their houses. We were moving into the psychedelic drugs, rock music and heady optimism, a counterculture movement that was sweeping America. It was a mystical ride that I just effortlessly rode upon. There was low crime so we hitch hiked everywhere.
Christine and I heard that Jimi Hendrix was going to be at the Shrine, it was there in sit down seats that I experienced my first LSD trip. We were far from the stage but it didn’t matter for we weren’t seeing him anyway!! It became a ritual to frequent the Shrine. This is where all the freaks came out. It was the best Halloween costume party I had ever seen. The costumes were from every segment of time or culture in our history, women adorned in Victorian gowns with umbrellas to match, full blown American Indian Chief garb, long silky 40’s style attire, you name it, it was there.
The light shows with giant size screens on every wall where an acid trip alone. We now were becoming one of them, shopping at the thrift stores to find outrageous outfits. I found a slinky sexy antique bed gown and wore a true silk black 40’s shoulder padded coat over it, with my very long hair streaming down, I was a pretty sexy freak but there were a lot of us. At times you would just see people walking around nude. It was feathers, flowers and beads everywhere. The smell of sweat and Patchouli was permeating the air. There were little clans of speed freaks that crimped their hair and wore it wild as their signature. It was there at the shrine that Chris and I saw most of the famous bands in history.
We soon heard of the Love-Ins at Griffith Park. I recently saw (on a web site) a very old excerpt, from the Free Press, a risqué underground counterculture newspaper, that was advertising one of the first or second Love-Ins.
It said “Griffith Park, a small canyon just up the Vermont Ave road from the Greek theater, by four PM Saturday the canyon will be packed solidly with joyous human beings” Christine and I were captured in a photo taken by the LA Times. I had the clipping for years, I wish I could see it now.
The press had come out to explore these new youths who were shaking the stifling conformity of the Eisenhower Era. Little do people know but some great music was born in that park, bands like: Paul Butterfield Blues band, The Doors, Alexander Timeless Blooze Band. I heard Pink Floyd too but I’m not sure on the accuracy of that. Speaking of that, one day Christine and I were down in Hermosa Beach and these guys asked us if we wanted to come listen to their band play. She asked them their name and they said “Pink Floyd” we laughed and said “What kind of name is that”? We thought they were merely some guys trying to pick us up.
I must have taken acid four or five times that summer. Timothy Leary was being spoke of through the circles. We all wanted to Tune in, Turn on, Drop out. I was waiting to find myself but what I found mostly was love; it was filling the air, my heart, my head and my world. At the Love-Ins we would sit in circles and hold hands chant or meditate. There were hugs and kisses abound. Sometimes we would drive to this place called Devonshire Downs, where they had outside concerts, sleepy bags were active and love was free, no shame or guilt. Some of us took drugs but not all. It didn’t last long for me, mostly all occurred that summer.
I must have taken acid at least six times that summer but for others that is how much they would do per week!! Chris and I decided to head up to San Francisco where we heard it was all happening. We filled up her old car with everything we owned to move to the new land of liberty. With Steppenwolf on the radio and the two of singing “Get your motor runnin, steppin out the highway” and sharing a joint we were flying high not just high but ecstatic high.
Life was young we were unknown to any evils in the world, broke and care free. All the way up there we saw psychedelic flower power VW buses passing by with fellow “heads” flagging the peace symbol to us. This is the funny part when we got to San Francisco we drove and drove, stupidly without asking anyone, we couldn’t find Haight Street. We decided to go check out Berkley were all the protests were happening but when we got there and slept one night in the car, it wasn’t getting to fun anymore. I think we smoked just a little too much of that green stuff. We ended up outside of the city in some people’s old farm and they fed us and gave a place to sleep for the night. I regret I never got to see Haight/Ashberry but what was going on in LA made up for it. We came back and told all our friends that we went to SF but kind of avoided questions about “The District”
We continued to hit all our home town acid parties with rooms looking like something out of an Indian temple, people sitting and meditating others chanting, some talking about the counterculture movement. One day while at Griffith Park I met Peter a very cute and informed hippie who one warm summer evening, at our local drive-in, in the back of his station wagon (all decked out like a freaks ride) I lost my virginity. He was kind, sweet and the ideal peace loving hippie boy, I saw him off and on the entire summer.
It went on and on and I was building the foundation to whom I am today. Now in my early fifties my kids tease me about my hippie ways. I believe they wouldn’t have it any other way though. Being a freak wasn’t all about drugs it was about change and love, high ideals that kept us driven. On New Years Eve 1968/69 I met George, my first love, he was into TM (transcendental meditation) and I decided to stop all drugs and start meditating with him. He introduced me to the natural hippies (we didn’t like that label) four months after our meeting I became pregnant and in Jan of 1970 we had a little girl and named her Carey.
He was a musician of course and way too handsome so we lived together for two and a half years and then he moved in with his lead guitarist of his band. It didn’t take long in those days to find other like minds. I with two other un-wed mothers, Mary with her daughter Tamara, Janice with Celestial, and myself with Carey all lived a communal life style with a garden in our back yard. We were vegetarian, made homemade yogurt, bread, alfalfa sprouts mostly all we prepared was from scratch and organic.
Janice and I loved to sew; we made quilts and clothes for our daughters. I took Indian tapestries and made shirts out of them, they were the fabrics you would see hanging from ceilings .I collected American Indian turquoise jewelry and antiques. It was our family, you could hear Joni Mitchell from Janice’s room playing over and over and Jackson Browne from mine.
We traveled, went to many concerts and took our daughters with us where ever we ventured. I can’t explain the freedom I felt in those days. It truly was a different time. When I tell young people whom I’ve seen in concert throughout those years and how I lived they listen in awe. We really lived free, experienced great music, found camaraderie had parties that this new generation could only dream of and lived for change.
We thought it had finally arrived, peace and love. “COME GATHER PEOPLE WHERE EVER YOU ROAM AND ADMIT THAT THE WATERS AROUND YOU HAVE GROWN AND ACCEPT IT THAT SOON YOU’LL BE DRENCHED TO THE BONE, IF YOUR TIME TO YOU IS WORTH SAVING AND THEN YOU BETTER START SWIMMING OR YOU’LL SINK LIKE A STONE CAUSE THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN. Bob Dylan
There came a time when the choice to remain tight in a bud,
was more painful than the risk to Blossom.
More about Laurel Here