A Hippies Thanksgiving

This morning I got to thinking about Thanksgiving and the best one I ever experienced, when it was and who I was with . . .  that sort of thing. Following is the true story of the –best Thanksgiving I personally ever had. It takes place back in the day when the music never stopped, till the day it died . . . Bye, bye, Miss American Pie . . . 

It was 1969. I was living in a cheap walk-up in Portland, Oregon,  just one more runaway looking for a spark of reality, and thinking I could find it by denouncing all that my parent’s generation stood for. I had just left the military and a short, but bad marriage. I was in hiding from all responsibilities and kidding myself that I could actually do such a thing. 

It was Thanksgiving morning, alone and depressed I went for a walk in the silent city. As I walked through the old neighborhood I felt more alone still, the usual hustle was not there, and even the drug dealers seemed to have taken the day off. I was walking, but going nowhere. . . . just walking.

There was a music store a few blocks down Burnside and I was heading in that direction, probably to stare into the window at the old Martin guitar I would have given my last dollar for, had I actually had one. As I walked along the empty street a Volkswagen van passed me by. It was full of freaks just like me. They pulled up in front of the music store and the guy behind the wheel, who must have been the owner, went in and came right back out. He jumped in the van, came back in my direction, and stopped in front of me.

The friendly faced girl sitting on the passenger side rolled down her window and asked,  “Hey man where you going?” 

“Nowhere, just bummin around.”

“We’re having a party! Wanna come?”

“Sure,” I said perking up a bit.

The van door slid open. Inside, it was packed full of hippies, all in an upbeat mood. 

“Hop in! We’re having thanksgiving for a bunch of people and you’re invited!” She turned in her seat and faced me. How lovely she was, and how excited. 

“Wow man, yeah man, that would be so cool,” I answered. . . The day that began as a huge bummer suddenly became a life-giving adventure because that little lady thought it would be cool to pick me up and take me to her party.   

A couple minutes later we pull up to one of the old Victorian homes that dot the SW Portland neighborhood and park. The van unloads, we walk up the concrete steps together and enter the magical atmosphere of a house turned hippie haven. 

There are couches, stuffed chairs, funky second hand furnishings, door beads, and brightly dressed people everywhere. Music playing. People, laid back and relaxed, laughing effortlessly. ‘no canned laughter here’  What a lovely place to be. There are no introductions, no embarrassing ‘trying to say the right things,’ I merely walk into the large living room, find an empty place to sit on an old couch, and sit down. The guy already sitting there says to me, “ Hey bro, how you doing?” 

“Wow man, I’m doin just great . . . ”

Using half sentences, chopped up wording, and a lingo from Mars, off we go on a discussion encompassing so many variables that I can’t describe . . . ‘the kind of stuff people say when they are stoned and flaunting the norm, I suppose.’

Anyways, we’re talking away when a chick who just arrived walks over and stands in front of the couch I’m sitting on and begins to comb her long, blond hair by pulling it over her face. As I glance up, all I see is one very entrancing blue eye staring back at me. 

Wow! . . . Instant attraction! 

Still combing her hair, she shakes off the old Salvation Army fur coat she’s wearing and sits down beside me to finish combing her hair. We talk. We laugh. We smoke a joint together. We share our intimate details . . . all before dinner. 

When the girls call from the dining room we all, (about 25 I suppose), file in and take a seat before the huge rigged up concoction of tables loaded with food and interspersed with bottles of wine. Nobody prays or does any of the traditional stuff. We just dig in and enjoy this festive occasion as if it was the best meal we will ever have . . . and to many, including myself, it was. 

After the feast was over and we are all laying around like wolves who had just devoured a moose, the joints come out and pass around one more time. The blond ends up alongside me on a couch where we kiss and snuggle and fall asleep in each other’s arms. 

I don’t remember how or when I got back to my pad, but I do remember the blond and the two-month or so love fest we had following that thanksgiving party. But, like all things in those days, it was fast, furious, and burned out just as fast when she went to Hawaii and disappeared from my life forever. She was my angel, I loved her dearly and I will never forget . . . whats-her-name.

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