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1967: California During The Summer Of Love

(Woodstock survivor Larry Schneiderman remembers the summer of love)

I was in college from 1964 to 1970 but 1967…  I’m going to start there.

1967 was the summer of love but I was not a hippy, I was a boy from Brooklyn New York growing up during  an era that was unforgettable in history.  I was for love, peace, and happiness,  but I wasn’t in the firm definition of hippy, a hippy. Maybe today I’d be called a hipster. I was anti-war, and in the summer of 1967, myself and three friends flew out from New York to San Francisco. I had a cousin who lived in Noe Valley, I visited her and stayed with her for a day or two and my first night there we decided to go to Fillmore West.

So we got to the Fillmore West, my three friends and myself, and there was a  concert headlined by Santana and the Grateful Dead. I spent a lot of time in New York going to the Fillmore East,  near St. Mark’s Place. It was, in my opinion, the most famous concert Hall of all time. but if we talked about all the groups who performed their that would be another story. I spent a lot of Fridays and Saturdays going to concerts there. Over the years I would see Crosby, Stills And Nash, Elton John, the Byrds, and lots of other groups. So when I got to Fillmore West I said to the box office, “We want to get in, can we get tickets?” They said they were sorry but it’s sold out. I said “I’m at the Fillmore East all the time and we just came here on a spur of the moment trip,  is there anything you can do?” They told me to talk to the guy in the hallway, maybe I know him. We walked over and it was Bill Graham. I said, “Mr. Graham, I don’t know if you recognize me but I’ve been to quite a number of your concerts and we’d love to go and see this, is there anyway?”

“Be my guests and come on in,” he replied.

I spent three days in San Francisco, and then from San Francisco we hitched down to Los Angeles. Our third ride were these guys who  pulled up in a Volkswagon van and they were wearing top hats, their hair was down to their ass, not the Merry Pranksters but like them: they were just straight out San Francisco hippies. They took us in the van and part of the trip was very interesting, us being good kids from New York, now we’re driving down the coast highway, and there is an agricultural roadblock where they were checking if you had any agricultural stuff and one of the guys said “I think we have a problem…”  So what is the problem?  “The problem is that there is a drought in Mexico for marijuana and we heard about it, and you are sitting on a pound of pot.” I said, “This is not a good situation right now, My parents are gonna kill me.” And as luck would have it, when they got up to our van they just waved us passed if not, forget it. The weed was alright in those days, not as strong as now.

We stop at night to sleep in Big Sur, and we drew straws because there was only one extra sleeping back and three of us (one of the guys who came with us went back the first day because he got sick) and I wind up getting the sleeping bag and my two friends wind up sleeping in the van. Unfortunately, nobody realized it was like ten degrees there. So I wake up and I look and if I had rolled over I’d have fallen down a cliff!  But my two friends were in the van hugging each other. We made it to LA and I said to myself I’ve got to get out here again but for 1967, that was my summer of love.

1968? My summer of love and fun…

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