Hippie Haven

     During the mid ’60s, the bohemian era had phased out, and the counter culture movement had rushed in. Interracial relationships were on the rise. A prime location for the development of this movement occurred in the downtown district of Rittenhouse Square—a park where the beginning plot for the comedy Trading Places, with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd was filmed.
     The park and surrounding area was reminiscent of the Washington Square neighborhood in the Manhattan Greenwich Village vicinity. It was obvious to anyone that the youngsters seemed to be attempting to mirror the culture of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Other than a hippie hangout, the park has functioned as a gay cruising zone and a needle park for junkies some years later. One local numbnut from South West Philly thought we were referring to the place as hippie heaven, instead of hippie haven, due to the ambiance and haps that seemed to target weary lost souls.

Psychedelic art http://www.partyvibe.com/forums/psychedelic-trance/39003-psy-art.html

Psychedelic art, sourced from PartyVibe.com

     I attended a couple of hippie minglings in this park with one of my partners, Timmy, who then worked with me at Western Electric. Timmy knew a few brothers who hung out in the area and played conga drums, which was the “in” thing to do. Moreover, the sounds of Afro-Cuban rhythms enticed the hippie crowd—more significantly, the white chicks.
     We would often hang out at an apartment in the area that had a secret trap door in the hallway that led upstairs to an attic. It was up there that we’d party without worrying about a police raid. The attic had the typical décor of a hippie lounge intended for sustained partying. There were beaded strings dangling, psychedelic posters—including images of Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles, iridescent lighting, and intermittent strobe lighting. Of course the air was filled with a mist of marijuana smoke. Music came from a small stereo hi-fi, while a guy strummed on a guitar and another played licks on bongo drums. In addition to weed, there was coke being lined up and snorted, and some sort of pills being popped.


A recent view of gals and a guy in the square

     In order not to induce suspicion like I had in the Badlands, I inhaled a few times from a joint that was being passed around. While the guys played, the gals danced. In fact they all seemed to be smashed. There weren’t any blondes in the group; since most of the gals had wavy Chestnut Brown or Auburn hair, and grinned most of the time. Some years later I concluded that many of them were probably of Jewish heritage, since there were a sizable number of Jewish kids active in the counterculture movement.

     When dancing, the gals would sometimes remain stationary and shimmy like a belly dancer; while at other times they would sling their hair around and perform exotic dance moves. During one dance, a black chick stepped in and successfully emulated most of their moves, and even out performed them. However, her moves were more like that of a Caribbean Voodoo dancer, instead of the more Middle-Eastern style of the hippie chicks.
     Small conversation while I was trippin’ revealed that some of the heads knew about my buddy Mel’s head shop, which was located nearby in South Philly.
     To sum up, the evening was a genuine, bona-fide head trip, which was a good time I could justify for only a season. I was determined to remain serious about my job and studies in night school.

The following is a YouTube video of Break on Through by The Doors – prime movers and shakers of the counterculture movement (3:37 mins):

7 comments on “Hippie Haven

  1. Mel says:

    Seems like a fascinating time. I was born at the end of this era so the only historical documents I have are films like Woodstock and Gimme Shelter.

    • Thanks for your comment you early bird. I thought you was on California time. Anyway, check out the post again. I updated with a clip from the band The Doors. Surprisingly, for some reason you inspired me to do this. I think because of the movie Apocalypse Now, which was one of your favorites. So keep the comments coming when you get a chance.

  2. The 60′s were cool, for me, the 70′s were the best. Great video and graphics.

  3. Thanks Paul. It’s positive comments like yours that make my efforts of writing like this worthwhile. By the way, I received your book: “As Fragile As Dust (Volume 1)” a couple of hours ago. As you can determine, that was super fast . . . like a head spinner.

  4. iPhone手機殼

    I know what a task it can be to keep writing interesting, so I appreciate this article. It’s engaging and written very nicely. Thank you.

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