Hippies in the Mist

Many years ago an assistant set designer came into the shop where I was renting space looking for plastic flowers .  Apparently, they had become scarce and the set director hoarded them for future productions set in the 1950s to 70s when they were common decor, before the advent of  silk flowers.
 
I had a large plastic bag of them stored in my attic that I had purchased earlier from a woman who was cleaning out her mother's house and she just wanted to get rid of them.  So the assistant, thrilled to score a large selection for her boss, bought them  to use in the upcoming movie Taking Woodstock .  When the movie came out, I went to see it and also to see if I could spy any of those flowers I had sold.  I never located the plastic flowers, but it was an interesting movie. 
 
The theater was almost completely empty except for four senior citizens and myself as it was a matinee.  The movie is partly a coming of age story about a Jewish boy in the Catskills.  If you've ever lived a hippie lifestyle, it's a fairly accurate representation.  The Catskills are home to many who never left the comfort of free love and a Bohemian existence. 
 
I witnessed this same phenomenon on the West Coast along the great Pacific back in the late 80s.  On Coastal Highway One, north of San Francisco, scenes of VW vans and bearded elders with their women caught in the era as though they had been cut from pictures of a 1968 Life magazine were common.  It was an amazing yet brief time period in the 20th Century.  The scenes from the movie reminded me of my childhood and my father's involvement in protests against the Viet Nam conflict.

In 1969 during one of the  protest marches in Washington, D.C., my father brought home a group of Boston College students to sleep overnight before returning to the march.  He became a great instructor of political science and history and the students listened intently while he spilled his expertise out onto the dining room table for them to digest.  When they tired of political conversation, they amused themselves with my little brother's stuffed animals and made them footballs that they tossed between the living and dining room.  The next morning, they left along with my father and though I begged and pleaded to go, he told me I could not. 
 
Then he asked me why I was not allowed.  I quietly answered that there might be violence and I knew he didn't want me to get hurt.  He said yes, and kissed me gently on the top of my head and left.  So I was spared the tear gas and cannons of water and billy clubs and thankfully, on that day so was my father who marched for the young men forced into war, who marched for his beloved nephew, and who marched against a war on foreign soil that needlessly destroyed countless lives.
 
 
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