The year was 1967. The “Summer of Love” in my hometown of San Francisco. I had just turned eighteen and graduated from high school. For a gift, I received luggage. Subtlety was not a strong suit in my family. However, unlike so many young people today who cling to the nest like a tick on a hound’s butt, I could not wait to be on my own. In the time it took to pack those bags, I found a job, a roommate, and an apartment and I was out of there.
The job was answering the request line for DJ Tom Campbell on what was Radio KYA at the time. My on-air name was “Rabbit,” a nickname given to me by a high school boyfriend who said I had long toes. It was kind of sweet coming from him. Not so sweet when it was blasted over the airwaves to the entire San Francisco Bay Area but, despite my protests, it stuck and I became a pseudo-celebrity in my own right. (For the record, my toe-length is well within the realm of normal and perfectly proportioned in size from big toe to pinky.)
While the job didn’t pay much, there was always enough money for the necessities. My portion of the rent on the apartment I shared with my roommate, Sharon, was seventy-five dollars, gasoline was twenty-seven cents a gallon, Kraft Mac & Cheese was thirty-nine cents a box, and marijuana was only ten bucks an ounce. Good times.
Our kitchen window overlooked a National Guard armory. On weekends, groups of ordinary guys torn from family barbecues and now armed with rifles would prepare for clashes with anti-war protesters in neighboring Berkeley. Because we were assholes, we would blast the iconic Vietnam protest song, “Feel like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” by Country Joe & the Fish, to taunt them. It never occurred to us that they might not want to be there.
Inside the apartment, the air was thick with a bouquet of weed, incense and patchouli oil, and often filled with friends in various stages of hallucinogenic bliss listening to “The Moody Blues” and eating copious amounts of Sara Lee chocolate cake. A long curtain of orange beads hung down over the doorway dividing the living room from the bedrooms. Covering nearly every square inch of wall space were psychedelic posters from Fillmore concerts that, had I only the foresight to save, could be supporting me in my “golden years” today.
Sharon was already sexually active while I was still a virgin and, though not quite the oddity it would be considered today, still it was a situation that I felt needed to be remedied as soon as possible. Another DJ at the station ten years my senior and, as it turned out, married, was happy to oblige. Aside from being a liar and a cheat, he was actually a pretty nice guy. He was gentle and considerate, and he bought me a bottle of “Joy” perfume and a stuffed Snoopy dog. Read into that what you will, but a girl could do a lot worse for her first time.
Two years later, Sharon and I would part ways and eventually lose touch, but the memories I have of that first summer on my own still get me high to this day.
Sadly though, some things never change. Where's Country Joe when you really need him?