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A Hippie Or Just Hip? A Tribute To A Mother of the 60's and 70's
The 1960's and 1970's were two decades that changed American society and culture forever. Most importantly those twenty years brought empowerment to women. The battles these courageous women faced, fought and won, their daughters and grandaughters now take for granted. It is because of them that we have choices, we can question, we have freedoms.
My mother is one of those amazing women. Because she was a hippie? Hip? Or something more?
Hippie and Hip Defined
The term Hippie or Hippy was coined in 1965 from the word hipster. The dictionary defines Hippie as a usually young person who rejects the mores of established society and advocates a nonviolent ethic.
The term Hip is defined as having or showing awareness of or involvement in the newest developments or styles. Also defined as aware or appreciative of something - used with the word to.
So when I ask myself whether my mother was a Hippie or Hip as defined above, she was most asurredly both. She was one Hip Hippie and so much more! She, and so many women of her day brought about major and fundamental change, they were Revolutionaries.
Was My Mother A Hippie?
When I perused Wikipedia for the term Hippie, I found the A-typical examples and references to what we today think of as a "Hippie"; long flowing hair and clothes, beads and flowers, love and peace, LSD and San Francisco. Beatniks, counterculture and of course Woodstock.
No, I wouldn't say my mother was the A-typical Hippie. Yet, defined as a young person who rejects the fixed morally binding customs of the established society of the 1960's? Absolutely! One that advocates a nonviolent ethic? Unquestionably!
On her bookshelf, the Joy of Sex and manuals on how to chart astrological signs, sat next to classic literature and poetry. One of her bookends was a heavy ebony buddha with a topaz in his bellybutton.
She despised guns and violence. She didn't believe in killing animals for sport and saw and taught me to appreciate the beauty in all living things, especially our planet. She studied the constellations, Orion her favorite, and watched NOVA.
She burned incense and handmade candles. She dabbled in drugs and Tarot, and played on a softball team called "The Rings of Uranus". She protested, marched, joined sit-ins. Agreed with love and peace not hate and war.
She agreed with the philosophy of naturalism and believed in the theory of evolution. She spoke of Greenhouse Gases and how it was destroying our planet. (Now we call it Global Warming.) She taught me about animal extinction and preservation. She taught me about 'warm fuzzies' and 'cold pricklies', I thought she had coined those phrases.
She imagined that JFK, MLK and RFK, would change our country and cried when they didn't get their chance.
Man, Was She Hip!
If only I still had her clothes! The low-rise, flare-legged cords worn with a big leather or macrame belt and a turtle neck. The gauzy, patchwork, flowing frocks. The crocheted purse. Her gorgeous auburn hair, whether worn long or short was always in style.
She ate Grape Nuts and Wheat Germ. She often flashed the peace sign and drove a "Bug" blaring her eight tracks, as we all sang along. Her friends were an eclectic group of scholars, intellectuals and artists.
She idolized the Beatles, and cried the day that John Lennon was killed. Pulling out her Beatles album collection to reminisce and reflect on their greatness and what they meant to her life. She told me a story of when she was very pregnant with me in 1966 and she and her aunt drove, spur of the moment, tickets in hand, from our small hometown in Southern Illinois to Kansas City to see the Beatles in concert and drove back home afterward, the screams still ringing in their ears.
During her college days, we lived in the campus housing. Summer's, when I was young, I remember warm evenings, rolling down grassy hills and playing with other children while our parent(s) worked at or attended concerts under a tent at the SIUE (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) Campus known as the (MRF) Mississippi River Festival. I was too young to understand the magnitude of our own little Woodstock, just enjoyed the warmth of the summer sun and music from giants like, Janice Joplin, The Who, Joan Baez, Ike and Tina Turner, Chicago, YES, and many more. (still my favorite decade of music .)
She married young, a month after she graduated from high school, as most "good" girls did in her time and a little over a year later my brother was born in 1963 and I came in 1966. My parents divorced not long after I was born. A major step towards her own independence, despite the backlash from family and society. She worked, earned her Masters Degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville SIUE and raised two children. Not an easy feat. It's quite common today, but forty years ago it wasn't.
One of Steinem's quotes was "A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after", isn't that commonplace today? Why? Because of women of this generation, like my mother, liberation is no longer taboo.
My mother, in my opinion, was one of the great women of the 1960's and 1970's that brought about fundamental change and awareness. Equal Rights for Women, Equal Rights for all of mankind. Awareness of the struggles going on around us in our country, our world, our planet.
I can still see her favorite crocheted purse, more like a sachel, adorned with buttons. NOW, Save The Whales, WWF (No, not wrestling, World Wildlife Fund), Green Peace, etc. She had dreams of joining the Peace Corps.
Had she lived in the Haight Ashbury District, her views may have been more acceptable, however, she lived in small town USA. Primarily Republican, God fearing, white, male dominated, don't have an opinion, never discuss sex, politics or religion, and certainly don't embarrass your family, type of town. Yet, she stayed true to herself and what she believed was right.
Growing up I knew who Gloria Steinem was and what Women's Lib meant. She didn't like Barbie as an example of what women should look like and imprinting that expectation of body image upon my young mind. She taught me to love myself as I am.
She did not believe in one creator or organized religion, she believed in evolution. Yet, she allowed me to go to church with my Great Grandmother. Thus exposing me to different views so that one day I would make my own choice in beliefs.
Did she march in Mississippi? Did she protest in Washington? No. But she changed society in her small way by teaching me. Through her actions and what she exposed me to, she taught me to question, to be aware, not to follow the masses, but to stand up for what is right, that I have rights as a woman, as a human being. She instilled in me a strong belief that I have choices, I can follow my dreams and make them a reality.
- World Wildlife Fund - Wildlife Conservation, Endangered Species Conservation
World Wildlife Fund - The leading organization in wildlife conservation and endangered species.
- The National Organization for Women (NOW) web site
News from the National Organization for Women: stories about women and feminism, action alerts, and more
- Greenpeace | Greenpeace USA