Become a Fan
1969 and Then Some, part 2
By Tova Gabrielle
Thursday, September 19, 2002
my escapades with the Hog Farm, and the Electric Cool Aid Acid Test
Come hear Uncle Johnís Band by the river side, come on along or go alone, heís come to take his children home. -Greatful Dead
One morning in May of '69 I meandered spacily up the driveway after an illicit night of partying with some oldser boys at Yale. My uncleís car was in the driveway and he got out of the car and started walking toward me with a pained look on his face. He nervously retucked his shirt into his pants. Something was definitely up.
"Hi Laura." He said cautiously, "...Donít go in there."
I looked at him uneasily.
"Your mother has decided that it would be best if you donít live here anymore." His eyebrows furled. He was pained but resolved. "Iíve got your things....You can stay with us."
I felt that my folks meant business because theyíd gotten my uncle to tell me. Thatís what people did when they were really through with each other; they got someone else to tell them.
Iíd like to think now, that my kind and generous uncle had been coerced into believing that he would be the safest person to deliver such a verdict; and Iím sure that heíd deliberated over it a good deal. I understand not that my mother felt she had to choose between he and I, since we were so destructive to each other, and obviously I had a better shot at surviving.
I was in a strange state; suspended between horror and relief, feeling like a person suddenly released from prison but with no where that was sure to be better, to go to. In the car on the way to Samís house I thought about how strange it was that a few days before I had gotten picked up when I was hitching, from a guy named Goldie. Goldie was a big cleaned-up, biker looking boy, with a pony-tale and a gold Star of David on his shirt. He was a raw mix of contradictions; a rebel from Yale.
For a reason I wasnít aware of, Iíd bragged to him that I was going to get kicked out of my house soon, not then believing the words I spoke.
He had sighed, "Well, babe, if you ever need any help I can put you up in an extra space down at the Voice." Hartfordís Other Voice was an underground newspaper. He sounded reassuring, like a generous older guy who knew the ropes.
I didnít really expect to see him again. But at Samís house my grandfather wouldnít look at me and my aunt spoke to me in such a resentful tone that I felt as if I had bugs crawling on my skin. I could feel their unspoken hostility, like a thick smog in the air and it made me weak. It wasnít long before I left there without an explanation and hitch-hiked to Hartfordís Other Voice. An ugly building in downtown housed the newspaper office and a big garage. Upstairs was a health food store.
When I arrived I went into the store. I was hungry and tired and feebly attempted to chat with the person at the cash register, while eyeing a granola bar. I was too sick at heart and confused to know what to do in order to get food. The kind woman picked up on it and offered to let me work the register for an hour, in exchange for some food.
Later I went downstairs and Goldie showed me to a partitioned off section of the cement floor in the corner of the big garage. The only thing that distinguished it as a bedroom was a mattress on the floor. I didnít ask whose room it was, nor did I think toóI was beat and soon fell asleep with my clothes on.
Sometime later in the night I was awaken by someone climbing into bed with me. I was startled and frightened. "Shh- itís only me-Goldie." He put his arms around me. "What are you doing here?" I asked. "This is my bed." he retorted with surprise, as if weíd had a pre-emptory agreement. I panicked. "This is good," he said as he forced a hug on me and I squirmed, backing against the wall. "No, no, this is good." he repeated, his fat fingers working fast at pulling off my clothes. There was no point in trying to get away. His weight, now upon me was overbearing. Besides, I had nowhere to go. I mentally checked out, thinking, Letís get this over with!
I was on an emotional roller-coaster, open to extremes, both dangerous and mystical. That mysterious undertow of the late sixties dragged me down beyond depression and into despair, and then tossed me higher and higher. I would crash down again harder, and try to pulling together fragments of my former self as it sucked me under again. And so if the following scenario sounds like fantasy, or uncharacteristically happy for the time in my life, it must be remembered that such were the times and experiences that came of grass, acid and free love.
The next morning I walked out of Goldyís den and into the bus garage to find two air-brushed psychedelic buses filled with happy youths. One bus was called, "Just Bus," and had a huge red dragon on the side. The other was the Rainbow bus, with a rainbow on one side and a sun on the other. I stepped into the Sunshine Bus and was greeted with smiles and a joint. Goldie walked over to the bus to find me. He pretended to be very concerned for my welfare. In the safety of this group I informed him that I wouldnít be back. He acted extremely hurt, as if Iíd betrayed him. "O.K.!" he said, "if you donít want to be my woman than screw you!" His guilt showed and I was happily to let him feel that.
The Beatles were singing "Somebody spoke and I slipped into a dream" and I must have gone into a dream myself, because although I now recall a twelve hour ride through a long dark night, we actually arrived in the middle of the day at the Milford School for Boys.
The drivers parked the buses on the rolling green hills on the outskirts of the school and we were soon met by a third bus which I later learned was from Yale. It contained all of the props for a multi-media extravaganza: colored parachutes, tents, cameras, projectors, slides, colored oils and more. An elaborate speaker system was hooked up and placed on top of the busses and the boys poured out of the school, lured by the outpourings of Grateful Dead. The Dead promised me someone would be there: "Come hear Uncle Johnís Band by the riverside, come on along or go alone, heís come to take his children home...."
Someone in the bus started pouring out small paper cups full of organic mescaline-laced kool- aid and handing them out to the curious boys who were trickling out, from the school. A cup was held before me. "Drink it! Itís good for your head," the person at the end of the arm said. Obediently, I drank it.
Then I wandered alone into a field of clover, blue-eyed grasses and Timothey. I began feeling weirder and weirder. A question formed in my mind, "Who am I?" I tried reason: Letís see...Yesterday I had been a high school student. I had lived with my parents at thirty-two Clifton Avenue in West Hartford, Connecticut. Good. Another thought loomed before me, "Who lived?"
My head began to dissolve. Thoughts began thinking me, feelings began feeling me. Instead of breathing, I was being breathed.
I got some paper somehow and began to draw. Then I heard a strangely familiar voice very close to me saying "I like what youíre drawing." He was looking over my shoulder. I turned to see a boy my own size, dark and small like me who I felt was from some common lost tribe; a kindred soul. "Oh, thank God," I said. He smiled. "What are you drawing?" "Cartoons...." I answered. " Iíve never tripped."
We were suddenly in a cartoon ourselves. Pages of the cartoon flipped. The scene kept switching very fast and soon we were holding hands and running through a field to the music of the Greatful Dead. "... got some things to talk about here beside the rising tide." My eyes were closed and my arms outstretched, and as we ran, other people reached out and joined hands until a long line of people were running through the field together. I flew on my feet. Love was in control and Grateful Dead were faithful messengers, guaranteeing a good time for all; not just some.
The media crew inflated an eyeball-shaped tent that ingeniously is held aloft by blown-in air. The front of the eyeball served as a screen upon which colored oils are projected. They oozed sensually across the screen like huge amoebas.
Outside the tent, people held up the edges of enormous colored parachutes upon people were bounced high up into the air, trampoline-style. Up out of my body I was launched, and I floated back down like a feather into silk and paisleys and laughter and color, and then above it all into a sea of all bubbling effervescence.
Gary and I ran up into a tree and I was smiling so hard that I became the cheshire cat. Down below someone said, "Iím scared." Scared? We exchanged puzzled looks. Fear was something weíd forgotten about, a movie with all of the color drained out. But everyone in this movie was in color.
Gary was wedged up in the branches with me, we were holding hands . He became an attentive newspaper reporter interviewing me. I was God and in the next moment he was God. Everything was as it should be. Eventually, maybe in a moment or in a lifetime, the whole world would awaken to goodness. Crosby Stills and Nash sang;
You, who are on the road must have a code
that you can live by .....and so become yourself,
because the past is just a Goodbye...
Teach your parents well....Your fatherís hell
will slowly go by...
Donít you ever ask them why ....If they told you,
you would cry
So just look at them and sigh; and know they love you.
Yin-Yang, Hieroglyphics and ancient Egyptian symbols swam before my eyes.
The day grew quiet and shadows became long. Gary was fascinated by me. I told him I had no home and he told me about a log cabin up in Vermont where I could stay with him and his friend in a couple of weeks. I wanted to finish high school and I had a month to go. I would find a place to stay in the meantime. He promised to visit me.
I went back to Other Voice and slept on the bus. I had to get rested up before I hitched to high-school in the morning.
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|Reviewed by Ed Matlack
|Oh man, does that bring back some memories, acid, etc... Havent thought about that in years. Hey, whatever happened to all those flashbacks we were told we would get?
Anyway, Tova, a very enjoyable memory on your part! How nice it is to find someone actually willing to discuss openly their acid experience from that wonderful year of '69! Would like to read more of your memories, looking forward to doing so! And remember: OLD DEADHEADS NEVER DIE, THEY JUST SMELL THAT WAY! Peace!