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Being a Hippie in 1968, the Real Greatest Generation

Updated on August 23, 2017

Putting Things in the Right Order

Sixties protestors for peace over war.
Sixties protestors for peace over war. | Source

On Down the Road, Still Hippie in 1976

Traveling Without A Passport: The Autobiography of X-Book Two
Traveling Without A Passport: The Autobiography of X-Book Two

Hippies never went away. Here's Peter McCarthy's story of what it was like to stay in tune, ten years down the road and longer. The hippie sense of humor stays.

 

Hippies In The 1960s

You don't really think Tom Brokaw's generation, the one that tolerated perpetual war, racism and conformity like it was Miracle Whip, was the greatest, do you?

Last time I saw Brokaw's crowd, they were the Silent Majority, marching along to Nixon's tune, making a hero of the notorious war criminal, Henry Kissinger.

My generation, hippies in 1968, was the real Greatest Generation. No question.

We had to do all the work to clear out the mess Brokaw's heroes made.

No matter what propaganda the mass media spills, hippies in the 1960s were closest to original American values, ready to stand up against the power structure to demand freedom, equal opportunity for all races and genders and for peace.

At War with Nixon's Silent Majority

All those values were neglected by the conformists marching in lockstep ahead of us.

Our tattoo was nothing less than equality and freedom, having been stuck with shoving aside what Tom Brokaw dubbed "The Greatest Generation," really the most obedient and gullible generation, before they let World War III get started and incinerated the planet.

It's one of those inconvenient facts that wreck commonly accepted untruths.

The mass media doesn't like it because, well, because the generation we kicked out the way owns most of it. Propaganda isn't only about marketing nations, but also about values and crowd control.

You can toss in the trash Brokaw's myopic claims where he lionizes a generation committed to suffocating conformity and hardcore militarism.

They never asked the hard questions, eventually setting themselves up as Nixon's silent majority and the greatest threat to American democracy in a century full of calamity.

If you were lucky enough to drop out and drop in to the hippie movement, happy to be alive, stretching freedom, awareness and equality, you'd know the stiffs who gave us the 1950s and the most miserable conformity in American history were far from the greatest.

Apart from the generations that sustained slavery, they may have been the cruelest.

Tom Brokaw's generation was the most harnessed, productive, obedient and least aware. They gave America the boundless promise of unchecked consumerism and the lethal mindlessness of the Silent Majority.

They unintentionally gave us a counterculture that spawned hippies, their own disillusioned children who hated their values.

Never again will the powers that be let children grow to adulthood with the freedoms we had. We are the last to threaten the status quo of soulless consumerism.

We saw a bigger, brighter world because we were swimming and dancing in a revolution, singing our way through the 60s.

Forty years later, in a time of "play dates," TV addiction, persistent war, economic calamity and corporately manufactured artists, maybe a few reminders of what we hippies in the 1960s really were and what our generation gave us can start a little meltdown.

Maybe we'll make a comeback.

Hippies Hit the Road

Source

Whatever Became Of The Hippies In the 1960s?

In Your Closet

I wrote another article about how the hippie movement went invisible along with the counterculture from the 1960s.

But we stayed alive in the closets, invisible to the disparaging eyes of mainstream media.

I also covered an interview with a surviving hippie that is acerbic and reflects what I think such a hippie's might think about today's social climate.

The hippie movement never went away.

We simply learned to live with the inevitable facts of our situation.

Survival requires compromise, but I wonder if recent shenanigans, three endless desert wars at one time while elected officials pretend we have no money for healthcare, education or nutrition, might empty some closets.

Why Did We Have Hippies?

Fusible Links
Fusible Links

In a bittersweet coming of age story from 1965, a young man tries to find his way in the shadow of a fallen American Dream.

 

And So, The Hippie Movement Made It Happen

Hippie Counterculture in the 60s

Because it was a real social revolution, the hippie movement faced real opposition.

All that's disregarded now as the public has been encouraged to remember the hippie movement as either a band of drug-addled, lazy dropouts or an entertainment that helped free love proliferate and scrubbed off much of the conformity that then rigidified the middle classes.

But that's not what we're here to talk about. We can always do history later.

Let's talk about what being a hippie in 1968 was all about, the best time in the years I've known, the time with so much potential.

Let's talk about walking through a brazen summer with hopes high and inspired starting points.

At the beginning of the New Year, 1968, I was working full time, engaged to a very Catholic Irish girl and planning for our future between fights and sexual confrontations. We had love, and we had John Lennon's "You say, 'Yes.' I say, 'No'" thing cold.

But it was normal.

Guys wanted to live now, and girls held out for marriage. Fortunately not all of them.

My job required national security clearance as I was dealing with classified information about aircraft designs, and I worked with a pretty ordinary crowd, playing Pinochle and telling stories during extended lunches on the eventing shift. My fiancé worked full time days, which made getting together tough, but we had a plan, as most couples did. We were getting married in the summer.

Being a hippie was not far from my thoughts.

The trigger, I think, was the Time Magazine "Man of The Year" cover, which transmogrified to "Persons of The Year" as they honored my generation for our independence, our willingness to open up and explore and our Beatnik-influenced lifestyles.

Time never credited the Beats, of course, but what they intended was obvious. We had ranking, middle class backing.

No doubt, the poorly explained assassination of JFK in 1963 knocked a lot the mythical American Dream out of us, helping to birth the hippie movement. Add to that the cruel discrimination made so obvious when Blacks tried to actually claim the equality they'd been promised.

Especially in the morally corrupt South, this was not the country we'd been taught to admire as we were growing up. Toss in the Vietnam War the dinosaurs demanded we fight in, and the demoralization was complete.

Dropping out and in to the hippie counterculture felt natural. There was little remorse for most of us.

Restlessness grew, and in February, I blew everything I'd stabilized on and headed for California on the spur of the moment with my buddy, Jon.

We drove all the way, and were greeted in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury with the offer to buy "a lid" at our first traffic light.

We were back East after a month, but the chain reaction had started.

Before summer was over, I'd dropped completely out, had moved in with a brand new girlfriend, and, for work, counseled draft dodgers, organized other groups of activists and helped lead protest rallies.

John Philips' lyric, "At first, so strange to feel so friendly, to say, 'Good morning,' and really mean it" accurately summed up what it was like to be in the hippie community.

Being a hippie in 1968 meant we all had our freak flags of long hair, blue jeans at all times and a tolerance for everything but intolerance.

We were so obvious, we acknowledged even strangers with smiles and peace signs.

An interesting thing I learned that summer, having eschewed footwear, was that dark pavements on sidewalks and streets were much hotter than light spots. Who knew?

I had my live-in girlfriend, my sunny soul mate with whom I was not in love, and I had one or two other girlfriends at the same time.

Free love meant being honest about it, and I assume she had others too.

Society was then less tolerant of freedom for women, the future loaded for repercussions.

A Movement Bifurcates

The hippie movement seemed to split two ways, between those for whom dropping out meant liberation through chemical substances and those, like me, for whom it meant social action.

Those of us who were more political were leery of the druggies because we thought they were being characterized as crazies to discredit all of us, and I suppose they thought we were phony dropouts who were too concerned about middle class acceptance.

What we all had in common was a hatred for the mindless military machine that, Eisenhower's warnings notwithstanding, was devouring everything about our country and flushing it away.

And we hated the crippling conformity that made it all possible.

When a member of my draft board at my hearing told me that my position would be considered unpatriotic by his generation, I explained that unthinking acceptance when your country was doing something very wrong was not patriotism.

It was surrender, as Tom Paxton pointed out in "Mr. Blue.""Good morning, Mr. Blue. We'll take good care of you. Just think of it as sense and not surrender..."

When the White Album came out, I split the stereo speakers on opposite sides of our studio apartment and played it straight through, got the first inkling that the Beatles were leaving us.

One more time, in a year that included the murders of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, I was reminded that a world I'd known was ending.

The Face of the Enemy of Freedom and Peace

The man the so-called Greatest Generation put in office in 1968.
The man the so-called Greatest Generation put in office in 1968. | Source

What We Learned at the Revolution

I learned a lot more about Zen in those days.

Mostly, I learned to like the music, my instant hippie friends, the freer than ever girls, the multiple social movements with independence as their fuel.

It was a counterculture revolution, and I enjoyed swimming and dancing in it. The mix of politics and personal freedom was dazzling.

That we could simply refuse to live as our parents expected, be absorbed into the hippie counterculture and get away with it was exhilarating.

Then, Nixon, Richard Daly and the nut cases running the show in the Mosquito Republics started beating us up and killing some of us and the minorities we befriended.

Decades later, I heard the inspirational writer and speaker, Marianne Williamson, talk about how the killings had chilled her.

Emboldened by their ability to send thugs in to beat up civil rights protestors and get away with most it, they started beating up peace protesters too.

After a few years, not content with driving hippies into the background, infuriated by Antiwar Protests, they killed off a few unarmed students to get the message across.

David Stone

You can find all my books on my Amazon Author Page

Hippies, Yippies and The Sixties Counterculture - Good or Bad

Was the influence of the hippies, the yippies and the whole counterculture thing good or bad.

© 2010 David Stone

So, what do you think?

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    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      @Brite-Ideas: I prefer the idea of dropping out. It drove them nuts when their values got rejected in the Sixties, like who needs them? Sadly, it also made a good bunch of them very angry.

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      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I'm a hippie but acutely aware of what it takes to be heard, and very aware of the distractions and media take over of minds (at least some minds), you don't have to join 'em, but at least be aware of how the game is played...chess.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      @ramonabeckbritman: You have a pretty accurate memory of the mainstream. The media now wants everyone to think we were different because it makes a more lurid story. But what you've written here is close to what it was for most of us.

    • ramonabeckbritman profile image

      Ramona 3 years ago from Arkansas

      My best friend and her family were hippies. They were quiet, down to earth people. Loved their goat milk and cheese. The ladies were especially beautiful with their long stringy hair, head bands and beads. Can't forget the hip hugger long skirts and sandals on their feet, occasionally if they weren't barefoot. The men on the other hand, were not to my taste with straggly beards and long hair, barefoot and beads. But they were cool. At least my friends father was. I was a very young child then so I was not into the political stuff. Only things that made me happy. Peace, Love and Happiness.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Chad, the killer wasn't Jackie, the killer was the left handed, former naval man, William Greer. Yes, the driver of JFK's car killed him upon receiving direct orders from Nelson Rockefeller and the plan was supervised by Bush senior! A paralyzing agent was released into Johns body through his upper back, he froze and then the driver slowed to a momentary stop turned over his right shoulder and fired an air powered gun which projected an exploding missile, that was laced with a deadly seashell toxin which enter his left forehead region and then blew out the right top part of JFK's head. This tragedy happened not because he was going to end the war in Vietnam or because of Cuba or his problems with Onassis. No, the order was given to the people in charge of protecting the money supply (secret service) because he was a direct threat to the powers who create money out of nothing.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @David Stone1: Here's another one you can have fun with Dave, Sir Ian McKellen played the role of Ron Paul....

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @David Stone1: Here's another guess and or entertaining theory for you, Dave.., JFK is still alive. It was all a staged (faked) event. He changed his appearance and later named himself Jimmy Carter.. Jackie was not only a CIA operative in the 1950s but she was also a great actress, she played a couple of different roles. She was also known as Marlyn Monroe and Roselyn Carter... Hooray for Hollywood, and that's how Washington operates within the political theatre of the absurd. What we have is a bunch of skilled actors with nice hair and teeth who play multiple roles. We should probably give more credit to the make-up and costume departments and all the directors and editors etc in D.C.... The theory is, Dave, that fact is often stranger than fiction in Alice's Wonderland... Believe it or not. Life is merely a STAGE we all pass through.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 4 years ago from New York City

      @anonymous: You have some of the right ingredients here and some fairly spicy flights of fantasy to go with them, Chad. You should document more thoroughly explain the evidence for some of you more farfetched guesses.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @David Stone1: How could I forget that they Killed Robert Francis Kennedy? I was named after him. In fact my uncle was very good friends with the Kennedy family, and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. My Uncle Matt, was the Executive Director of the Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice in Chicago in 1963, and he was the one who organized the March on Washington, along with other Civil Rights leaders.. Are you aware that JFK was really a Technocrat at heart? His top energy advisor was Dr. M. King Hubbert. Hubbert was one of the leading ENERGY experts in the world and head of Technocracy inc.. Which was really Americas first and best Think Tank, consisting of some of Americas greatest minds in many different fields of expertise... in 1962, JFK requested that M. King Hubbert and company put together a Report on Natural Resources, and Hubbert laid it all down.... As a result of that one report, it was determined that price system economic growth was not sustainable and so the science minded JFK took this FACT based information and had to find some type of remedy and so, he decided that through his Executive Order 11110 he he would grant the U.S. inc Treasury the continued power to print more silver backed money at interest free to the American people. Think about that , interest free money would have been the end of money all together, and an existing, and viable (FACT based) Technocracy design was to take the place of the very old mythically owned and scarcity based and obsolete price system. Interest free money was a direct threat to the private interests how own the Federal Reserve Corp, and so the the order was given and three teams were set out to kill JFK on November 22nd 1963 to set another example of what happens to people who want REALITY BASED CHANGE. The three teams consisted of rouge elements within the Secret Service, La Cosa Nostra member, Johhny Roselli and back up... and Jackie Kennedy herself who was placed into a killer MK-ULTRA programming trance on Aristotle Onasis's boat, as she was recovering from her depression as a result of the loss of her son, Patrick... And there were other higher ups who participated, who are still alive.. Yes, Hippies have it about right, but most are hypocrites...

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      The Pre-WW2 generation were the so called, "best and brightest." They gave us incredible technologies, technologies that could have and still can set us free from a monetary based PRICE SYSTEM... The hippies never really understood the root cause of most all of our complex, social, energy and environmental problems, and therefore they were kind of hypocritical in their thinking i.e. they would vote for democrats, thinking that democrats would end the war in Viet Nam, when in fact all politicos in high office positions in Washington, whether they're republicans-conservatives or democrats-liberals all march to the beat of the owners of the price system war drums. Really, if you want to get back to the ideals of real hippiedom, OPT-OUT, never vote, and never use the controllers money supply. Their monies power is not real, but symbolic of a myth that people die for, and hence no peace can exit! In a price system there are a few winners and a vast majority of losers, and who in their right minds would choose to be a loser? And that sets the stage for immediate conflict and whenever there is conflict we'll never no lasting PEACE!

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 4 years ago from New York City

      @kcsantos: Fifty years later, there's still a buzz. Thanks.

    • kcsantos profile image

      kcsantos 4 years ago

      Wow. Thanks so much for sharing this lens. I'm not a 60s kid but I'm really fascinated with its people, the hippie movement, and the culture in general.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 5 years ago from New York City

      @MaggiePowell: Thanks, Maggie, especially for the tip on the book.

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      MaggiePowell 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your memories of this amazing time... You might enjoy a book I recently read "the Season of the Witch". It's a social history of San Francisco that spends quite a bit of time on what went right and what went wrong with the Hippie Movement. Great first hand stories (wonder if you'll see yourself?)

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 5 years ago from New York City

      @Mami Design: I believe we're all doing what we can.

      Thanks.

    • Mami Design profile image

      Mami Design 5 years ago

      Amazing lens. I wish I could do more - but for now...blessed!! :)

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      grandma deal 6 years ago

      I was a teenager during the '60's and I wouldn't have it any other way. Some hippies were good people, some weren't. They would be whatever they were (good or bad) in the 1890's or the 1930s or the 2020's. Remember the Romans and their toga parties? People are people no matter what century, or what culture.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

      @LikinTrikin LM: Fun for me to write = fun for you to read. Glad you liked it. Thanks.

    • LikinTrikin LM profile image

      LikinTrikin LM 6 years ago

      Nicely done...Made me revisit a lot of my old memories. Thanx

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 6 years ago

      I loved your lens and found it very informative. I was just a child in the sixties and grew up in a military household, so hippies were not high on my list at the time. Since then, though, I've come to see the hippie culture as something very special in our history and love to read about it. Great lens - Angel Blessed!

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

      @RetroMom: Retro to the core! Thanks, mom!

    • RetroMom profile image

      RetroMom 6 years ago

      Yes hippie!! It was all about love and not hate, we could use some more hippies these days!

    • beerhead profile image

      beerhead 6 years ago

      Great lens. We could use the same attitude in the current times!!

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      grannysage 6 years ago

      I don't think we dispersed in 1970. In fact, I moved to a commune in 1979. And we are still around, trying to live in a world that we don't understand. What is cool is that my daughter calls herself a hippie. I love your story. Lensrolled to my Ex-Hippie lens.

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      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I wasn't one but I did grow up in the right time period to be one. I think farm life saved me :)

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hippies remind me of ones who have long hairs, withdrawn and outcasted. Reading this lens made me think there is something else associated with the 1968 hippies.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Being a hippie was a great time in my life, especially when I lived on the farm commune. We lived of the land and worked hard ever day with all the conveniences we take for granted. We had to milk the cows, and made our own butter...and so forth (loved it). - I enjoyed reading this Dave, it sounds like those memories are good for you as well. ~ Wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way. ~ Thank you for the feature. {{SqquidHugs}}

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

      @Ann Hinds: But I would replace removal with "surrender." Nobody much seems to be putting up a fight over it. Our perspective is skewed a bit by the blast of freedom the Sixties brought us. In the first half of the 20th Century, when those in charge were terrified about the public's romance with socialism and resistance to the establishment of a permanent state of war to keep the military-industrial complex enriched, repressive measures were much worse and the mass media much more complicit.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      Did we really go away? It may be more difficult for us and it was for me when spending time in corporate America. Doesn't the current removal of our rights make you want to scream at the people surrounding you? Angel blessed for allowing me to make that statement.

    • nebby profile image

      nebby 6 years ago from USA

      As I read through your life, I felt as though I was reading a mirror image of my own mind. Although I lived and stayed in NY, I had wanted to head west but I was working at at that time, your work came first. It wasn't until the last few years did I realize that what we had back then was as close to freedom and oneness as one could get. The world is quickly changing and it doesn't seem as though love is as important as the dollar or power. So simple those times were and if it is true that history repeats itself, maybe we will return again to when we really did care about one another as though they were our brothers and sisters.

    • mywebcontent profile image

      mywebcontent 6 years ago

      I would have loved to see some pictures of you during those hippie times! Good lens.

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      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Well written lens! I wasn't born yet when the hippie movement began, but do have memories of hippies on the golden coastal lines of Goa, India where I was born and brought up. Goa being conservative, being a hippie meant extreme...they always fascinated me though...I guess it was the freedom and carefree nature of it all!

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 7 years ago from New York City

      @kateloving: I loved the protest music lens. It brought me back. In my hubs, my lenses and my novels, I resurrect that era and its ethos as much as I can. May be because there was no musical reference, I was surprised to find how little Google action I got. My big action is on the Esther-Hicks and Abraham action. One of them went viral for a week in the summer. I am getting bored with them however as Jerry Hicks has taken over the show, and I probably won't write too many more on that subject. Thanks for liking, and I will see you around the lenses.

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      Kate Loving Shenk 7 years ago from Lancaster PA

      I loved being a "Hippy," even though I felt alienated and suffered from major depression, nevertheless, I incorporated those days completely into my psyche. We are survivors in our resilience. Thanks for stopping by the 1960s protest Music lens. Oddly, that is my most "successful" lens, the one that gets the most traffic from Goggle. But I love making lenses and going for 100 was a great thrill as far as experiencing creativity! The support around here is phenomenal!Blessings!