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The Summer of '69

Published:

Last Edited: September 6, 2018, 1:38 pm

I remember that summer very well; I had made my first real money at my first real job (and the first thing I bought was The Ventures Golden Greats album) and I was due to start high school that fall.

It was in August of that year that most of the class took a trip to Lake Foss in Oklahoma. Several of us boys rode in the back of a long cattle trailer with most of the equipment, the camp stoves, skis, tents, etc. and we joked and laughed and smoked cigarettes all the way there.

Not being much of a skier, I would go off hiking or fishing while everyone else was out on the water. I came from a skiing family, but never cared for the water sport. (one of the reasons might have been the "water skiers enema" I suffered the first time I hit the lake surface and skidded along on my bottom for 20 yards.)

I've also never been able to sleep in a strange place, at least not the first night. It was nearly the middle of the night when everyone else but myself finally fell asleep. Earlier that evening, a couple of the parents who had come along as chaperones had told us "There's some buses full of hippies in a camp down the way...stay away from 'em!"

Not being able to sleep and like most other teenagers when told not to do something, I ventured near the brightly-painted buses like a moth drawn to a flame. As I drew closer, I could hear singing, some musical instruments being played. I quietly walked up to the swing-out door and knocked softly upon the frame. The music immediately stopped, as did the production of the sickly-sweet aromatic smoke that I had smelled.

"Who's there?" challenged a voice. "Uh...just heard ya playin' music...." I stammered. A figure in the darkness came close "It's just a kid." said a soft, sweet feminine voice. Before I knew it, hands were gently pulling me inside. Oh Lord, I thought...what had I got myself into?

"Sit down." came the softly-spoken command from the female who had brought me into the bus. As my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, I could see a shapely young woman of around 20 yrs. old, long hair and a flowing dress that clung to her figure which was now deliciously crowded against me on the bus seat. A few questions were sent my way from the dark recesses of the bus, what was I doing there, where was I from, did we have any extra "munchies". After mumbling out my replies, the music started back up and so did the odd smelling smoke.

The musical instruments consisted of many I had never seen; an African "harp", some homemade woodwinds, various weird drums and other odd percussion instruments and the music was unlike any other I had ever heard. It was unstructured, with no obvious theme and seemed to end by some unspoken consensus on the part of the musicians...or when the glowing coal that seemed to float around the bus came to them.

My eyes finally adjusted to the point where I could make out a bit more about the occupants of the bus; most were young men, in their early 20's or late teens, but there were a few girls there, most importantly the one sitting beside me, nudging my body with hers as she swayed in time to the music.

As the smoke swirled around my head, so did the thoughts inside my head; by that time, I couldn't have told you my name or where I was from, but I knew that I was in love with this hippie goddess. She smelled like no other girl I had ever been close to, a combination of sweet, fresh feminine sweat and flowers, no perfume but something completely natural, a musky scent I later wish I could have bottled and sold for a million dollars an ounce.

I believe this was my first experience with pheromones and contact highs. I'll never forget it.

"Did you say you had some cookies?" breathed my seat mate's voice in my ear, the sensation being unlike any other I had ever experienced. "I'm hungry." Her words were as lovely as her face and body, words of some newly discovered rare substance that entered my brain like musical notes formed of Jell-O and wrapped in velvet. She laid her head on my shoulder, her hand upon my knee. My heart literally stopped because it was now up in my throat. Her breath was as hot as molten lava on my neck, her eyelashes fluttering on my cheek creating a sensation that I thought must be like being caressed by a thousand beautiful butterflies.

"Mmmm...be right back." I said and jumped up to go get the fair maiden her cookies. I didn't know if we had any in our camping supplies, but I was prepared to go rob a grocery store, kill a Keebler elf for her, strangle him with my bare hands if need be.

I ran as fast as I could go back to our campsite and rummaged through our supplies in the back of the horse trailer. "Whaddyadoin'?" came a sleepy murmur from the front of the trailer where a couple of the guys were sleeping. Ignoring them, I grabbed every sweet thing I could find, I was wanting to get back as quickly as I could, reclaim my king's perch along side my queen, bring her the plundered booty as homage.

With an armful of cookies and Twinkies and honeybuns, I made my light-headed way through the hot and humid Oklahoma night back to the darkened bus, every step filled with urgency. As I drew near the bus, the smell of that smoke was stronger than before. I climbed the steps with the goodies, searching through the darkness for my goddess. Grabbing, anxious hands relieved me of the sweets, but I paid no notice, still looking for the young woman, the only woman in the world, the one destined for me.

"Astrid split." came a voice from the corner of the bus. "She said to tell you she was over there." and I could make out the shape of a hand in the dim moonlight gesturing to a nearby VW van covered in peace signs and orange and red flowers. Not understanding what was meant, I sank to the nearest seat in abject disappointment, nearly sitting on someone who, in a crinkle of cellophane wrappers and grunts of annoyance, moved over so I could sit down. Even without looking, I could tell this certainly wasn't my hippie goddess as the smell was atrocious -  greasy hair and unwashed body, a horrible odor that even the strange smelling smoke couldn't mask.

"If you ain't goin', then I am." said my new seat mate through a mouthful of Twinkies. He stood up, brushed by me as I pressed myself up against the seat, hoping that none of that miasma would migrate to me. Being a stranger, I was afraid to open my mouth in protest plus I was also breathing through it instead of my nose, trying to avoid the awful stench. I watched in horror as he strode off through the cloudy night towards my goddess's vehicle, opened the door without introduction knock or greeting and climbed in.

I hadn't the heart to stay after that, even though I found the hippies to be interesting subjects to watch, just like animals in the zoo. They might have well been extinct dodos or passenger pigeons because there certainly were no species like them where I came from!

As I was leaving, I asked one where they were headed. "We're meeting up with some friends from Kansas here and going on in a caravan to a big concert in New York state. " I was barely paying attention, instead watching my beloved's smaller bus starting to rock on its suspension. I didn't know about the facts of life, was ignorant just like most other teens of my age in that day and time, but I certainly knew that VW van was full of the birds 'n bees at that particular moment.

My heart, once in my throat, once stopped by the touch of her hand, was now on the ground, being eaten by the wild dogs of jealousy.

In my own personal history, I suppose this could have been a milestone: my first experience with hippies, my first experience with pot and my first experience with lust. I wasn't so impressed with the hippies; they stank, were greedy beggars and I didn't even realize I had even HAD an experience with illegal drugs until many years later. The lust, though... -sigh- That night, the hour or two that seemed like a microsecond at the time...or perhaps it was an eternity...that night I went from Lust to Jealousy and then came my first profound sense of Loss, at least a loss of a highly desired experience dreamed about by 99.99% of all straight 14 yr. old boys.

A few weeks later, when the television news was full of the gathering of tens of thousands of young people in a NY farmer's field, was when I realized that the hippies were headed to Woodstock. The TV footage showed countless young men, all with greasy-looking long hair, unwashed, twins of all those aboard that bus that night. There were also images of young women, also with dirty hair festooned with flowers, also unwashed, but none were my Astrid. (or it might have been "Agnes", sounds sounded differently to me that night)

With age sometimes comes wisdom, and some small measure of wisdom has even sunk into my own thick skull. I might have missed out on one of the defining moments of a young man's life, at least having the moment with my hippie goddess, but I probably also missed out on the "joy" of massive doses of penicillin.

(and having to explain to my mother just WHY I needed the antibiotics)

Entry #30

Comments

1.
konaneComment by konane - September 6, 2018, 1:29 pm
You are a highly entertaining writer! That was hilarious!
2.
mikeintexasComment by mikeintexas - September 6, 2018, 1:41 pm
Thanks konane. Unlike most of my stories, that one is true.

Well, mostly. - wink- Looking back on the memory, I don't think "Astrid" was as pretty as I made her out to be, but after breathing in that smoke for an hour or two, she was gorgeous.
3.
jarasanComment by jarasan - September 6, 2018, 7:14 pm
Yup, yup, yup, I had buddies with older sisters in those days..............

P.S. well written!
4.
mikeintexasComment by mikeintexas - September 6, 2018, 7:37 pm
Thank you, jarasan.
5.
eddessaknightComment by eddessaknight - September 6, 2018, 9:04 pm
WOW< what a trip for 14

Well done would make a good retro magazine short story

If you want an alternative antidote, for fun, try this powerful Vangelis music score:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94dY-QxjDiE


Conquest of Paradise Theme • Vangelis
www.youtube.com
This has always been one of my favorite music videos however there weren't any high quality versions of it online, so I took shots from the actual film and reedited ...
Men's Work: Discoverers, Conquistadors, Friars, Builders, Settlers

"All successful employers are stalking men who will do the unusual, men who think, men who attract attention by performing more than is expected of them."

~Charles M. Schawb

6.
mikeintexasComment by mikeintexas - September 7, 2018, 8:32 am
Love Vangelis, Ed, esp. his Blade Runner ST. I've always said I wanted "Memories of Green" played at my funeral. (and Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding")

Some friends have told me to submit it to a magazine, along with my "Russian Through the Checkout Line", but I'm not good w/ rejection. LOL I have a couple more to post, but it seems like only a few like them. Then again, I'm not sure too many people actually read them, can't blame 'em for that! -wink-

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