I received yesterday an email from my friend Mati Laansoo who lives in Gibsons BC:
Where were you in the Summer of Love?
50 years of human advancement. Bruno
QUO VADIS OPUS DEI
In January 1967 I returned to Veracruz, Mexico, from my stint in the Argentine Navy. I did nothing for a while and not knowing what to do with my life I went to visit my friend Robert Hijar in San Francisco.
Robert Hijar worked for the US Post Office selling stamps. He lived on Stanyan Street in an area called the Haight- Ashbury District.
Because I had hated to get my hair cut short in the navy in my trip back from Buenos Aires in a slow Argentine Merchant Marine Victory Ship I let my hair grow. I was surprised to see many men my age wearing hair as long as minewhich was to the shoulders. Robert took me to a store and told me I should buy a rather lovely round ceramic pin called the peace sign that he said was designed (incorrect he was) by Bertrand Russell.
Hijar lived in a typical San Francisco Victorian house upstairs with a woman whose children roller-skated in the kitchen. Below, lived a couple that he called hippies. They smoked marijuana.
In those days I happily sipped yerba mate from my father’s nicely appointed mate (gourd). I offered some to the chaps below who declined telling me, “It seems like it is addictive.”
If you went to cafés you might have complete strangers sit at your table. One such person sat down and asked me, “Are you happy?”
I went to a concert of Jefferson Airplane. I will never forget a young woman sitting in a corner staring at a little shot glass that was filled with what must have been crème de menthe. Hijar told me she had dropped acid. I went to Golden Gate Park and ran into a strange crowd lining up to get free soup from a wiry guy. He and his crew called themselves “Diggers”. Years later I photographed and interviewed him. He was actor and author Peter Coyote.
Hijar showed me some magazines that had an almost illegible title that I believe read “Ramparts”.
I returned from the trip still uncertain about my future. I was sunning myself on Mocambo Beach in Veracruz when I was approached by a lovely girl who asked me, “Why do you have such long hair?” I answered, “Because I am a hippie.”
She told me her name was Cecilia Borrego and that she was from Córdoba, Veracruz. She told me to call her Gris (she had beautiful gray eyes). I fell in love with her on the spot and never saw her again.
That was my Summer of Love.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.