I wrote here, not long ago, that I had hooked up with a favorite former co-worker, Jessica, on Facebook. We were both good, steady workers except on the days they paired us up together; on those days, we chattered like magpies and didn't get a lot done.
One day when we were together, Jessica started telling me about her past: How her family lived in a remote region of Arkansas in a home-made shack, keeping goats for milk, and living off the land. They'd left their well-heeled parents in the east, turned their backs on society, and headed for the hills.
"You're about the right age for them to have been hippies," I said.
Yes, she said, they were hippies.
Now,there had been a time in the sixties and seventies that the hippie life sounded adventuresome to me. That was when the back-to-the-land movement was in full swing, and Whole Earth Catalog was selling like hot cakes. I subscribed to Mother Earth News, which in those days seemed to be written mostly by hippies giving instructions on how to build a yurt, or construct a house from straw bales (that didn't work out too well for the three little pigs, did it?). There were articles telling how to make cheese, how to raise chickens, and so forth. My favorite section, though, was the personal ads in back of the magazine... mostly written by hippies.
I would never have had the nerve to smoke dope or live on a commune, nor would my redneck husband have considered such nonsense; but it was fun to read about.
So, years later, when I found out Jessica was the daughter of genuine hippies, I soaked up the stories of her growing-up years like a sponge.
She told me how glad she was when she started school and got to drink homogenized, pasteurized milk instead of the smelly goat milk they had at home.
They didn't have running water; they used an outhouse.
She told how her father died of cancer when she was six years old. And how she loved him and still missed him; she was a daddy's girl.
Without getting specific, I'd say Jessica's parents did most of the things associated with genuine hippies. Her mother is still a hippie at heart, although she isn't living off the land these days.
It's been several years since we worked together, but I still mention some of those stories to Cliff once in a while.
When we started doing the retro pictures on Facebook this week, Jessica asked a relative to send her some childhood pictures so she could share them.
All of a sudden, the stories she told that are still so fresh in my mind had illustrations!
This is little Jessica, inside the tarpaper shack her dad built.
Here she is with her older sisters; that's their house in the background.
Here you have it: A genuine hippie family.
Jessica with her dad.
One Christmas, Grandma sent them a bathroom rug set; since they didn't have a bathroom, Jessica's dad decided to wear the set for this picture. Nice pink hat and shawl, don't you think?
A big thank you to Jessica for giving me permission to share these pictures on my blog.