Friday, August 4

Dear Jim,

It’s overcast today. Just like downtown San Francisco.

I’m sitting outside at my favorite coffee shop. I just finished reading an article about the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

It made me ill. You and I hated the hippies. I have always felt that the hippies milked San Francisco for everything they could, then went out to make as much money as they could – and do as many illegal and immoral things as they could – just like the capitalists they hated so much. I know you agree with me.

You had a more difficult time with the hippies than I did because you were their age. They hated western culture. You loved it. They hated Christianity. You loved Catholicism. You read great books. They read the North Beach horseshit. You were sick because of what Vatican II did to The Church. They wanted to rock out at Mass or pretend they were Buddhists. They loved The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. You liked Glenn Yarborough and Ed Ames. They smoked dope every day. You were never drunk or stoned. They were promiscuous. You weren’t. They thought they were cool. You knew you weren’t and you hated their arrogance and hypocrisy. They thought it was their God-given right to avoid Vietnam. You felt guilty that you got out on a medical but other people had to die.

The hippies broke your heart Jim. You had nothing to be part of, even though you opposed the war and had the highest hopes for Bobby Kennedy.

You were close to Sis I, but you had nothing in common with her hippie friends. The Church you loved had gone to hell. Even though you had a great career ahead of you, you didn’t feel a part of the times. You didn’t love America. You loved baseball and you loved the family, especially mom and dad.

I remember when you said you wished you had gone to Berkeley instead of S. F. State. You said you would have been exposed to more interesting people. I think you meant people who were not from the U. S. The weather might have had something to do with it too. The weather at state is horrible and the campus was ugly. Berkeley gets lots of sun and back then the campus was beautiful.

In 1991 I went to Berkeley one Saturday – one of the famous streets near the university. It was like Haight Street in 1967. I was disgusted. I haven’t been back.

I haven’t been to The City, except to catch the peninsula train to Sis II’s, in a long time. I sure won’t go this year. The Summer of Love my ass. It was the summer of promiscuity.

I remember being on Haight Street before it got jumping. A buddy of mine and his mother had moved over from The Haight. She saw what was coming and wanted to keep her son from it. He ended up being a stoner and a drug dealer.

Anyway, he said “Let’s go over to The Haight and see the beats.” So we took the bus over.

I assume it was 1966. It might have been 1965, but I don’t know if dad and mom would have let me go that far in 1965.

It was sunny so it had to be Spring or Fall. It wasn’t cold. There were some guys with really long hair who looked weird to me.

We went into the liquor store with all the pussy magazines, then looked at Cavalier and Carnival. Remember those? I had never seen such a thing.

The guys with long hair may have been weird, but the neighborhood wasn’t. Just different. There wasn’t trash all over like in 1967.

I didn’t return to Haight Street until dad and mom and I, and maybe Sis II, took that woman from Ohio over to see the hippies in the summer of 1967. It was foggy as hell and all the slobs were bundled up and there was trash everywhere. The woman was astounded. Between the fog and Haight Street, she probably never forgot San Francisco.

Our great aunt and uncle hated the hippies, though they would never say it. What had San Francisco come to?

One sunny Sunday after dinner I went with dad to take auntie and uncle to their apartment on Bush Street. There was a concert in the Panhandle and hippies everywhere. We passed a hairy bastard just as he was letting go a humongous loogie. It astounded even me. Auntie was disgusted.

What’s amazing about the hippies and their getting wasted was that they did it in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It dawned on me in my forties that if you live in San Francisco and have to get stoned every day, you are an idiot.

It’s not that I never got wasted. I did a lot. But I could walk for hours in Golden Gate Park without being stoned or drunk and marvel at the beauty. I could sit for an hour at the beach looking at the horizon and dreaming.

I’m naturally high. That’s one reason I have contempt for the motherfuckers.

One more story before I go. When I started gardening I was 30. One of my customers was 65. She knew I grew up in San Francisco.

After a few visits she came out to me while I was weeding. We started talking. The she said, “What were the hippies like?”

My blood began to boil. I put the trowel down. I looked at her. I said, “My grandfather had all the prejudices of his day. But he was honest. He went to Mass every Sunday. He knew he was a sinner.” Then I said, “The hippies weren’t honest. They didn’t believe in sin, but they were the biggest sinners of all.”

This was fun Jim.

In our next life we’ll live in San Francisco when it’s beautiful.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko