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Survey Of The Decades - The Summer Of Love - 1967

Tourist Attraction Hippies Take Over Frisco Scene

SAN FRANCISCO - (NEA) The Haight - that's what the hippies call it - is changing. Everybody agrees on that. Only thing is, there's a big difference of opinion about how and why. Bells. Bells around the neck. Bells around the legs. Bells around the ankles. They tinkle as they walk, slowly, aimlessly, up and down, up and down. The Haight - Ashbury district is very small. Only about five blocks long through Haight Street, across the main intersections of Ashbury and Masonic.

It's an old section, a section which used to be prim and proper and solidly middleclass. Then came the hippies, turning it into Greenwich Village West. Flowers. A yellow zinnia tucked into a beard. A red carnation behind an ear. A pink hibiscus clutched in a dirty hand. The flower children, they're called, and some of them try to live up to the name. The old-timers didn't mind it, at first. A few oddballs added spice to the neighborhood. But lately the variety of oddball is changing. The place became nationally popular and attracted the dissidents, the angry, the disenchanted, the rebels from all over.

Pets. They walk along, leading dogs on ropes, dogs of all shapes and sizes, mostly dogs who are not up on such niceties as curbing. They like animals and they have pet mice and rats who cling to their shoulders and they carry caged birds. The old-timers draw a distinct line between the real hippies and what they call "tourist-attraction hippies." The real hippies, they say, deserted The Haight five or six months ago, moved on to the country north of San Francisco. Now the hippie population is different, kids who go where the action is, kids who are drawn by rumors of sex and dope and utter freedom from moral restraint. They sit in doorways and in the street, using the stores and the curbs as back rests. They sit and do nothing. Then they get up and walk a block and sit some more, their eyes with that glazed look, their mouths working, their hands running along the sidewalk caressingly.

The old-timers didn't like the new hippie so much, the tourist - attraction hippie. And they didn't like it, either, when the hoodlums, the punks, the thugs moved in to get a part of the drug action. A couple of gangland - style killings further alienated the old-timers, further testified to the changing character of The Haight. The signs. On a car: "Grass Is Great." Soaped on a window: "In God we trust, in Haight we rust."  Tacked up on a wall: "Need bread? Sell papers."

There was more the old-timers didn't like about the way their fine old neighborhood was going. It was dirty now. It was crowded now, crowded with the hippies and with the tourists coming to look at the hippies. Haight Street is one endless line of cars these days. And they didn't like the language many of the hippies use, abusive, vulgar, loud. They beg. Not loud, not insistent, but continually. "Got a nickel?" "Got a cigarette?" "Can you spare some change?" One of them sits on the curb with a little pile of sand and he picks up a pinch and lets it sift through his fingers. "Trade you a pinch of sand for a cigarette," he says. "A pinch of sand for anything."

So they began moving out. Merchants who had been on Haight Street 20 years moved away. Old ladies who had spent their lives on Haight Street moved away. They were abandoning The Haight to the hippies. Hippie merchants took over the stores, selling beads and posters and baby rats. Hippies piled into the old houses, six or seven to a room. They hawk the hippie newspapers to the tourists driving by.  "Read all about the geeks." "Read all about love." "Buy a paper, baby." "Read all about The Haight." The Haight is changing. A new breed of hippie and an unwelcome hoodlum element have moved in. Thorns for the Flower Children. The Evening Standard - Uniontown, Pennsylvania, October 17, 1967

 
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