I went to the Earth Day festival in Forest Park. My one day of the year to revisit my hippie past. It was the usual eclectic collection of people and causes. It is always held in front of the Muny, spreading out from Pagoda Circle in all directions. I like this festival a lot, both because it reminds me of my youth, but also because it is always one of the year’s first outdoor parties.
I could have been a child of the sixties. I was certainly in the right place at the right time. We lived in San Francisco and then Marin County, from the mid to late sixties. Just in time for the summer of love, but still in grade school, I was way too young for any of that. We did have some brushes with fame though.
While probably lost in downtown San Francisco, we came upon the Hells Angels. This would have been in their heyday. Mom was driving, just trying to get through this encounter and survive, while I and my brothers were bouncing around in the back of our 1950s Dodge station wagon. It was a blue whale of a boat, so my Bros and I had plenty of room to bounce around and press are faces to all the windows, like little monkeys at the passing spectacle, which is exactly what we did. All the while mom was yelling, “Don’t look. Don’t look.” We all survived the non-event and I was richer for the experience.
The first Earth Day appeared a few years later. I didn’t meet up with it until later, in high school, in Ann Arbor. Then I had the idealism of youth, but also some of the hopelessly impracticality that inexperience brings. Today’s Earth Day was pretty corporate by comparison, but probably much more effective because of it, in both means and ends. You can still see some of the former idealism from those halcyon days, but generally you have to look for it. Then occasionally, it comes marching down the street, banging a drum and singing a song, just like in the good old days.