In the ‘60s, those of us younger than 40 reluctantly participated in the working force but became hippies on our off time. The hippie movement was all about fun, love and “antidisestablishmentarianism.” The necessary evil of working prevented us from devoting our lives completely to the cause but still reinforced a budding, new lifestyle.

In Madison Park, down at the pubs, conversation would sometimes involve politics and world injustices (i.e., the Vietnam War, civil rights, etc.). Lightening the mood was very much in order so on Wednesdays, otherwise known as Hump Day, 12 to 20 friends would meet at my house to watch “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

Having laughed our way through one show, we were just about ready to break up the party when a long-haired, bearded guy with a head of wild, curly hair, sporting a peace-sign necklace, appeared on the screen. 

He said, “Now that I have your attention...,” and we all sat back down with our libation of choice and listened to Myron Hirsch describe societal issues. 

 

Seeing the differences

Hirsch held up a very small spice bottle and announced, “Ya know, it just isn’t fair! This parsley is 69 cents — I could grow $10,000 worth in my backyard!” 

He then segued to one of the modern conveniences families could not live without: the garbage compactor. Up until now, garbage was just garbage, but now it had to be sorted as some items were not qualified for the compactor’s appetite. 

Next, Hirsch held up three products: a chocolate treat, a package of bacon-flavored bits and Kool-Aid. “The chocolate: $10 per pound! The bacon bits: $14 per pound!” 

He then asks, “Which of these treats create more profit for ‘the man’? The Kool-Aid comes in at a whopping $56 per pound!” 

This caught our attention. Just about all of us, as kids, sported a different color tongue after licking Kool-Aid and sugar off the palms of our hands, tightly closing the treat and putting it in the pocket over our hearts. Someone had the gall to make a killing off our favorite food item?

 

Not a quiet riot

A lifelong friend found his soul mate and moved to Sacramento. He called to invite me down and check out his lifestyle. He had a lot of friends who were definitely into the hippy thing. 

On the Fourth of July, we drove to Berkeley, Calif., to find some good Spanish food. During our meal, we heard and saw things like flying garbage cans and glass breaking. The restaurant owner said, “All of you, GO!” 

Outside, a guy in front of me had a gash on his head, and drops of blood were showering on us. 

A voice from the crowd yelled, “Did a cop wop on you?” 

“No, someone broke a jewelry-store window, and I reached in to grab a Mickey Mouse watch, and someone pushed me into what was left of the broken window.” 

We laughed nervously, then heard gunfire. 

A tall guy who looked out of place said, “Is this a riot?” 

“I don’t know. I’ve lost the program!” 

More tittering was followed by, “Don’t breathe the gas!”

“I don’t smell anything!” 

“Well, then, don’t breathe!”

Finally, I recognized the area where we parked the car, so I peeled out and ran toward it. I looked behind and saw a cop car bearing down on me. I tripped over a parking curb, and he turned off. I sat there at the car, stunned until my friends showed up.

Once we got back to their apartment and parked, I said, “I think I’ll walk to the corner bar for a beer.” They informed me it was not a good area to walk at night.

Right about then, Madison Park was looking real good. 

Perhaps, folks from areas in California would think of our neighborhood as boring. Boring is pleasant — we can smell the roses.

RICHARD CARL LEHMAN is a longtime Madison Park resident. To comment on this story, write to MPTimes@nwlink.com.