Peace, love and blackberries (the fruit kind)

29 08 2009

My parents were hippies. Probably not full blown hippies, but kaftans and jesus sandals WERE worn, and unkempt hair and beards were all the rage. Chuck an embroidered headband on, no problem!

I have a distinct memory of my dad wearing a shirt with butterflys all over it. I loved that shirt!

The 60’s was a time of revolution, lucky us! born into an era where everything in history was being questioned and rebelled against. New paths were trodden and we, the boomer kids, were dragged along for the ride.  Love was preached by day, and belts were pulled out at night for wayward love children. No revolution in our house, just plain ole stand over tactics. Double lives are confusing!

Our house was always full of strange people, as my parents made it their life work to save peoples souls. We went to a church called the ‘Jesus Light and Power House’, and was the home and base of the God Squad, a biker group with a mission to help the lost and homeless, some of which ended up living in our home.

Their hearts were in the right place those fellas, but they often left families at home, dadless, as they rode on long bike runs, hanging out with outlaw bikers, and earning patches and shit like that that I never really understood.

Meanwhile back at the church, when the sermons were on, us kids were out blackberry picking, and roaming the fields, larking around. Kids were frowned upon joining their parents in the small, packed orange house, except for the babies of course.

The congregation was a bunch of people sitting cross legged on the floor as John Smith preached the Word. Women breastfed, men put their arms around their wives, babies were handed around, sharing the load. There was a lot of love in that place, bizarre people, the fashion, the ‘hey man groovy’ speak. It all seemed quite normal at the time.

shiny happy people

shiny happy people

Sometimes I would listen when they put the loud speakers out the front because the house wouldn’t hold any more people. But mostly I would people watch, it was the start of a long love affair with studying people.

One woman was so charasmatic, she would shout out praises to the Lord and would mumble and sing to herself as she poured over her bible. I would look around to see if anyone was embarassed by her, but no one was, they just keep right on listening. It was disconcerting to me. Now looking back, I feel certain she was tripping or mentally ill or both, something just wasn’t right about her, and I knew it. I could FEEL it.

Finally one year, they started a ‘sunday school’  which was basically a room with tables and chairs, and lots of art stuff.  I went in there when it rained, otherwise, I was climbing trees and visiting horses, and of course, stuffing my face with blackberries. No sprays were used back then, straight in the gob, saving a little for the family. Coming home smelling of horse with stained hands & crushes on boys, all in the life of a temporarily free spirit.

I don’t know the purpose of recounting this story, I just know that Woodstock has triggered a lot of seventies memories for me. I know friends who have lived in ‘hippy’ communities, some of which I visited with my family. We are a long way away from this simple life here in the suburbs. I left a part of me back there, it calls out to me still.