Jimi Hendrix at the Ontario Airport, Spring 1969
Freshman year at Sonoma State I resided at the only dorm: off-campus, co-ed, one wing for women, another for men.
Part-way through the year, some guys drove up from L.A. to visit their buddies. One of these visitors and I hit it off, and began corresponding. Gary came up for another visit, we kept writing, and then he sent a plane ticket to visit him a weekend in May, arriving on Friday.
Saturday we drove back to the Ontario Airport to purchase my return ticket. At the counter were two guys wearing fluffy afro’s and holding guitar cases. To our left, standing apart, was a taller fellow, in white suede, with a fringed, green suede shoulder bag, and a green headband around his substantial ’fro. Seeing Gary’s ’fro (he was of Black, Greek, and American Indian descent) and my derby hat with the peace buttons on it, he gave a little up-tilt of the head, beckoning us. It was Jimi Hendrix. We walked over.
“My man, sister,” he greeted us, extending his hand. We shook hands, he admired my hat. His bandmates at the counter had picked up the instrument cases and started toward us. With a smile and a nod, Jimi joined them.
The next day I boarded the small plane to Oakland, and there were the three of them, three and four rows back, on my left, asleep. I did not disturb them, and in Oakland they exited the plane looking straight ahead.
Summer of Love in Haight-Asbury
Growing up in San Francisco made it easy to gravitate toward the beatnik and bohemian lifestyle. Most of us my age got swept away in the tsunami known as the “Summer of Love.”
With the U.S. Army freshly behind me, college and working at the main branch of Bank America in downtown San Francisco seemed like the logical choice.
That’s also when the Haight-Asbury phenomenon exploded.
Thousands of us gathered for “love-ins” at Golden Gate Park and cheered Timothy Leary’s “tune-in, turn-on, and drop-out” speech. Honestly, I was the first person on my feet for the standing ovation!
College and Bank of America were left behind. I lived by my wits and on brown rice, free love, and communal-sharing for the next four years; trading in my white, 1956 Ford with a glass roof, for a psychedelic-painted Chevy panel truck, with a picture of Zig-Zag rolling papers on the passenger-side front door.
Thousands lived together in various houses in the Haight-Asbury. I don’t remember ever paying rent, and once lived in a closet large enough for a single mattress, my 12-string guitar, and a small shelf where I kept my esoteric books and a hooka.
One night, at Avalon Ballroom, I told Janice Joplin she should record a single of “Summer Time,” and I would buy one million copies. Later, I enjoyed a visit to her home where Big Brother and the Holding Company were cool enough to share some social intoxicants.
Those were wonderful times I will never forget.
Summer of Love, Lifetime of Love
I started my lifetime career in the health care profession working as a nurse at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines. During that period in history, most girls were encouraged to chose a career in health care or teaching. My parents stated many times that we needed to have a profession because we’d never know what might happen to our husbands as they may go off to war. My parents had experienced WWII, and now we were experiencing the effects of our friends going to Vietnam.
It was during this time that I met my best friend and life-time partner and got married April 28, 1973. My husband-to-be had grown up in Fairfield, Iowa, and had been in the Army Guard Band. He loved patriotic music and played at the return of President Herbert Hoover’s body to his home in West Branch.
My summer of love included water skiing almost every weekend with my husband-to-be, and with our friends who were in our wedding. We enjoyed the summer sun, bought a bucket of chicken and beer, and enjoyed a day of boating in the sun. We had great times with friends. Guys in the seventies all had long side burns, and most girls wore short skirts and had long hair(early seventies).
Friendships were very important and it was during that time I met my lifelong best friend, James L. Evans, who had many nicknames— L.T., Rabbit, Ace, and on and on. At our wedding and later at his funeral we sang Our Song—“You’ve Got A Friend.” It was a time when we would hang out with friends, talk for hours about our future. It’s with loving memories that I think back on those wonderful summer days that we had. I lost my Best Friend on July 5, 2009. Our advice was: “Marry Your Best Friend.”
In July, 1971, I pulled in to Jessie Lane Ranch, our shared housing co-op, at the northern edge of Petaluma, CA, followed soon after by my housemate, Lindy. We’d both been away for a number of months.
Tony, Mike, John, and Alita greeted us, and we stood outside in the shade, catching up.
Tony walked over to a spigot rising up out of the ground and turned the tap, saying, “Look, we finally got this working, and put in a garden.” He left it running as we continued chatting; the ground on which we stood turned to mud. Tony reached down to turn off the water, scooped up a handful of mud, and smeared it on Lindy’s bare calf. She retaliated on his arm.
As one, we all scooped at once—the mudfight was on! Laughing and scampering, we flung mud all over each other, till only our eyes were not covered. The guys hooted and hollered like monkeys, and ran into the neighboring field of tall brown weeds. Giggling and practically breathless, we girls ran to the house, did a quick rinse with the hose, then went inside to shower. Lindy thought it would be funny to lock the guys out. So, in only their cut-offs, the guys hosed each other off, blasting mud around the driveway.
We finally made a big fruit salad to share as the sun headed down over the western Sonoma hills.
For tickets to Way Off Broadway’s production of Hair, April 23-May 2, 2010, visit www.fairfieldacc.com.
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