Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Haight-Ashburies

The Haight-Ashburies

This week I hooked up with my old friend from 7th grade whom I will name here as Jesse Winchester.  We hadn’t seen each other in decades. (Please don't the math; yes, I’m probably older than you).

Back in our running days, we cut school  incessantly, sometimes for a week at a time. We were what they called "incorrigible." We would change our school clothes for hippie garb that we brought along in brown paper bags and change at the SF bus terminal. I had an olive green embroidered Mexican dress with bell sleeves and wore beads and leather sandals.

It was spring, and I can still smell a sickly sweet odor of ornamental cherry blossoms like incense.  It brings me right back to that place and time, even now.

We were somewhere in the Haight, and we scored some acid on the street --you could do that in those early days.  We were starting to feel it as we slowly made our way up  toward the park, and somewhere between Shrader and Stanyan, a man came up to us and said, “You girls better get out of here.  Martin Luther King’s been shot and there’s gonna be a riot.”

It was hard to believe that on peace and love street anything so violent could happen so suddenly, but unbelievably a few minutes later a whole group of black kids came furiously running out of the park on the south side of the Haight.  They were smashing all the windows and going crazy.

We got on the bus to go back home and sat in the back.  Jesse was crying.  I saw all the old faces on the bus turn around to look at us.  “Jesse, you have to maintain,” I told her.  “Jesse, maintain...”

So there we were 45 years later on the same stretch of street.  It was night, and we just parked there  and looked around.  Looked it up on our smart little phones.  Yes, it was April 4, 1968.