Nineteen sixty-nine was a strange turn of events…Woodstock promised a generation of peace, but the Tate-LaBianca murders let it be known that all was not Flower Power in Hippiedom.

At fourteen, I watched as my generation went through its baptism of fire. Oh, we’d had Civil Rights and Peace rallies, even had an experience or two with overzealous cops…couple of dogs…got my head clunked a time or two.

On the heels of the Summer of Love, they threw the “Death Of Hippy” on October 6, 1967 in San Francisco but it took a few years for everyone else to catch on. Most people didn’t even know that Haight/Ashbury had exorcised itself until way after the fact.

By 1969 many of us had been committed to the Peace and Civil Rights movements for quite some time. We were tired of having our collective-based community parodied in comedy sketches as unwashed, unshaven bums.

Sure, there were still Be-Ins. San Francisco wasn’t alone in this. Ditto Greenwich Village, New York. We had them in Philly too…Belmont Plateau hosted many an afternoon of cavorting amid clouds of cannabis. In that regard, we still knew how to throw a party…but by time 1969 came along, the Flower Tribe had officially lost its cherry.

I had a dream about all this last night and woke with a sense of melancholy. There’s a lot of that time period I miss to this day; the music, the sense that we were part of a tribe, the belief that we had the power to change the world. These things stood out amid the clouds of incense and peppermint, parody and partying.

The innocence that was able to exist in those few, brief moments before the fall was a universal thing that reverberates to this day, as is evident in the many changes that have occurred since then.

For today, to me Fifty Five will be the New Fourteen, because I was a hippy then and am still one now!

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