Monday, March 9, 2015

I ran out into the street and hung out my thumb. To see this short-haired cadet in U.S. Army dress khakis must have been as much a shock to these West-Coast kids as their own wild, Bohemian, appearances were to the proper folks in this Deep-South farm town!  Finally, one couple pulled over in – would you believe - an Army-surplus van they had outfitted, and offered me a ride with them out to their new home. Well, actually, we were riding in their home. It turned out to be as interesting and, yes, exciting, an afternoon as I could have expected, meeting the closest followers of my favorite philosopher, and hearing some of their stories and motivations for being where they were, and their hopes for their promising future. Communes and communal farms were all the buzz back then. They were even in the movies, like “Alice's Restaurant,” “Easy Rider,” “Tommy,”  and, later, “Billy Jack.” Some just evolved as a long camp-out on somebody's parents' land, and lasted until somebody broke up or everybody ran out of money, food, or, more important, dope. This was not just one of those. These folks – almost, these gods, to this star-struck teenager – were in this to stay. They had “sold what they had,” and were building a new life out on the land, bound together with a common hope for a new world and love for their teacher, whose words I also loved. With all the conflict in those days between the long-haired Hippie People and what they thought all the crew-cut Military folks were about, and the Military folks and their idea of what the Hippies were thinking, far too much time was spent, with this person or that, explaining what I was doing in what I was wearing, and why my hair was so short if I wasn't in the Army. The sun started to dip, and one of the people gave me a ride out to the county road, and I was able to hitchhike back to campus in time to stay out of trouble. It had been a mind-shifting afternoon.

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