Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Strange Trip To Friend

It was the end of summer 1971; the summer of my 24th birthday. I was estranged from Patty, the woman I had loved madly since I was 20, and had married just before my 21st birthday, with my parents consent, since I was legally considered a minor. I was clinically depressed, but I was not aware of that as I had never heard that term, nor that diagnosis. I suppose, for the times, I was considered a hippie. I let my hair grow, dressed in bell bottom jeans and shirts I had tie dyed, I smoked a lot of grass, and occasionally tripped on hallucinogenics. I felt a total disconnect from American society, in general. Nixon was president, the Vietnam War continued to drag on, the city of Seattle in which I lived was in a recession, as was a lot of the state of Washington.

David and Vicki were a couple, also considered hippies, that I had met during the winter when Patty and I lived in, and took care of a rural cabin in North Central Oregon. The closest post office was in a defunct general store in the crossroads community of Friend, Oregon. I would guess that the post office served less than two dozen families scattered around a ten mile radius. Dave and Vicki were living on a 20 acre tract that their friends, Bob and Winnie, from Portland had bought, and on which were building a cabin they hoped to live in full time. I had met Dave and Vicki one morning when I was driving up from Jordan Creek where Patty and I were cabin sitting. The winter snow and spring rains had made the road very muddy in places, and I had inadvertently driven into a shade covered muddy bog, and became hopelessly stuck. We walked the couple of miles to the Friend crossroad, and went to the corner farm house to seek help. A very young woman, with a very young baby, answered, and said we should go find the hippies in the woods just up the road. We did, and I met my new best friends. Later that summer, the people from Portland moved out to their land and cabin project. The word spread that there were hippies near Friend, and it seemed like other hippies began coming out of the woods and meeting on that 20 acre tract. There were craft making hippies, music playing hippies, dope dealing hippies, hippies with young children, and snow bound hippies. A few of us found temporary jobs with ranchers and farmers. I bucked hay bales for awhile, and drove wheat truck for a big grower in the next county. We met at the Friend site for pot luck parties. We smoked, we drank, we played music, and sang and danced. The non musical people like myself, were given kazoos which we blew and sucked through with great enthusiasm. I was happy, I was with other alienated people, who were very similar to me. We were generous and supportive of our little hippie community.

I need to add more background here, so I will start at the end of 1970. Patty and I had been geographically and emotionally separated since the spring of 1970. During that time I had temporarily stayed with friends in Seattle, where she and I had been living since we met, and on the road a lot as a hitchhiker. In the fall of ‘70 I returned to my hometown in Eastern Washington, and lived in my parent’s basement where I had spent my high school years. I began reconnecting with old friends and meeting other alienated dope smoking freaks in the area. It was not too long before a group of us decided to rent a big older house, and try to live somewhat communally. I was taking a few classes at the community college, collecting unemployment, and feeling pretty good about myself: depression in recession. Right around Thanksgiving, Patty entered my scene, and expressed a strong desire to get back together. I was really in a dilemma as to what I wanted to do. I only knew that I would not return to Seattle. I had some cash, from dealing weed, so I suggested that she and I take a road trip to see if we could somehow work through our estrangement, establish some guidelines, and possibly get together again.

In mid December, 1970, we left Pasco in the '68 VW bug we had bought new when we were happy newly weds, and started on a trip that took us through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. We stayed in stranger’s homes in Boise and Boulder; these were the times when people (other hippies) opened their homes to travelers. There was a kind of underground referral network in locating these "friends." We also stayed in some rather desolate motels in Rock Springs, Wyoming and Amarillo, Texas. We stayed a few days with my grandparents in Dallas, and a few days with cousins of Patty’s in Houston. From there we drove one very long day across West Texas to El Paso, and another long day to Los Angeles, where we stayed with my cousins. During this attempt at reconciliation on the road, we ingested or inhaled a lot of dope (weed, hash, cross tops, and hallucinogens), had more disagreements than solutions, and we fucked a lot. We were either fucking or fighting. After several more days on the road, staying in a seedy hotel in San Francisco and with a friend in Vancouver, we returned to the big house in Pasco. Things had really changed there during our two plus weeks away. Most of the original people had moved out, and rougher, heavier into dope people moved in. I knew the people that owned the cabin in Wasco County, and asked them if we could care take it while we worked on our marriage problems. They agreed as long as we did a few upgrades that they hadn’t had time to do. It was several weeks later that we became stuck, and became part of the hippie subculture in Friend.

1 comment:

  1. In reading this Billy, I already know ten times more about you than in the ten years that we've been friends-thanks man