L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 301, December 19, 2004
Happy Ngu Year!
The Kaptain's Log
Exclusive to TLE
[it must be The Season: the Kapt done gone all sentimental and maudlin again]
You occasionally read a reference to "the 60s" or "the hippys" [sic], both online and in the government-controlled media, but the last thing that anyone seems interested in is an actual honest history of those turbulent days when the youth of the Western world seemed poised to bring down the whole dang statist house of cards in every "first world" country.
And I reckon that it might have happened, too, if we hadn't allowed ourselves to be distracted, detoured and derailed by various leftist stupidities. But that's neither here nor there, and I don't have the time, space, nor inclination to go into all that history now. I just wanted to give you a glimpse into one particular Christmas Past, as betimes from such little vignettes one gets a better sense of an era than by reading a volume of history. So, as they said in the introduction to The Lone Ranger television series, "Come with us now to a bygone era..."
...In 1966, I lost interest in going to the barber shop every two weeks. It wasn't a conscious decision to grow my hair; I just quit doing things that weren't necessary and/or sensible. The bimonthly mop chop was one of them; dressing according to the dictates of others was another. At that time, I was living in the Benighted Statisms of Amerika, aka the home of the free-to-obey, so these decisions brought me into constant, daily, conflict with every officious jackass in Californiaand there were (and still are) a lot of those, amigos.
The cops often stopped me to demand, usually at gun point, where I was going and what I was doing en route, and to see my "identification" (draft card). There was no legal basis for them to do this, of course, but when you were looking down the barrel of a .38, the pigs' powers of persuasion were considerably augmented.
"The pigs"... now there's one I haven't said for many a long year. They were, after all, not much like human beings. They wore jackboots and helmets and heavy leather jackets and carried lead-filled "night sticks" and were armed to the teeth with all manner of weaponry, some of which had been issued to them by The Department, and some of which they had provided themselves in the spirit of murderous innovation. They hated young people, and we hated them right back.
So that is a bit of background. Amerika was at war not only with the Vietnamese, but also with the blacks in the ghettos, the Native Indians on and off the reservations, the Mexicans throughout the "Southwest", and any white kids who rejected the various wars-against-all-comers waged by The State.
Yet we long-haired hippies found a new and supportive international, multiracial community in one another. Everywhere we went, there were others like us. It was wonderful to know that total strangers would take you in, feed and shelter you, and give you a set of their "love" beads, even if your name was Manuel. We began the practice of "paying it forward", rather than paying back those who helped us; in other words, we repaid kindnesses to ourselves by being kind, in our turn, to still others. We were actually living as Christ Himself had suggested. It was a good way to live, too.
Mind you, we paid for our inoffencive ways with constant harassment from Satan's kingdom and its various minions. Small wonder that I recall the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities when thinking back on those days: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
One winter, in late December of 1967, I took a Christmas holiday trip, "by thumb" (hitchhiking) and by bus, from Southern California up north as far as Oakland and back home to Long Beach again. I wore my usual suit of clothes: off-white jeans, sandals, a pinstripe, button-down collar dress shirt, a truly hideous necktie, beads, a "vest" (made by cutting the sleeves off an old army shirt) festooned with protest buttons (peace symbols in various fluorescent colours, "I am an enemy of the State", "Make Love, Not War", "LSD is a drugLBJ is a dope", et cetera), a leather headband around my long, thick hair, several crosses on chains about my neck and, of course, several strands of beads. Like, I looked good, man!
I was on a bus which was headed for Oakland via Hippie Hell, aka Bakersfield, California and, despite the proximity of Christmas, I was not in a good mood. I had realised too late that, when I paid for my meal at the previous stop, I had accidentally given the cashier a 5-dollar bill instead of a 1-dollar bill. (You Canadians won't understand how easy this was to do, because each denomination in Canada has a different colour scheme. In the USA, the money was all grey-green, and all had the same Satanic symbols on it.)
Now, this was back in '67, remember, when a dollar was significant money and nobody was ashamed to pick coins up from the sidewalk. So, when I counted my money later on the bus, it dawned on me why the broad had briefly looked inquiringly at me before handing over the change for a dollar: she was looking to see if I had noticed my mistake before she cheated me. It was a major loss to a hungry hippie, man. This sort of thing happened to us all the time, even at Christmas, and we learned to distrust "the straights" as a consequence.
Worse still, a gang of middle-aged Amerikaneren had got on the bus at that stop and, spotting your hirsute scribe, decided to celebrate the season by regaling their fellow passengers with a loud, continuous harangue about The Evils of Youth ("I don't know why the young people today go the way they go and do the way they do, they must have no respect for anything, not even themselves..."). Even some of their fellow fascisti grew tired of it before we pulled into Bakersfield, and dropped out of the choir. The core group kept at the Six Hours' Hate, however. After all, it was Christmas time, and we couldn't very well have people running loose with their hair as long as Jesus Christ's, now could we? Certainly not without making everyone in the bus miserable, anyway.
I said nothing. I know that's hard to believe, but back then I was a believer in nonviolence and Peace and Love and things of that sort. I was young and idealistic. Nowadays, I would most likely rip somebody's head off and stuff it down his Nazi throat but as I said, those were different times and I was different, too.
When we stopped in Bakersfield, while we waited to continue our voyage and the Decent Citizens kept up their vituperative caroling, I looked out the window and chanced to notice a really, really, ancient lady, about five foot six inches tall and weighing no more than 90 pounds, if that, slowly dragging a suitcase toward the steep, high steps of the bus. (Back in those days it was a challenge for anyone other than an Olympic hurdler to board one of those "scenic cruisers".) She might have been Methuselah's mother, man.
Well, sir, I leapt up from my seat, jumped off the bus, and asked the lady if I could help her, as I took the suitcase. She barely found the breath to gasp out, "Yes, thank you," and I helped her climb the steps with one supporting arm as I brought along her satchel with the other. Either she had just robbed Fort Knox, in which case more power to her, or she had a brick collection from which she could not bear to be long parted. I'll never know, and it was none of my business either, but man, that was one heavy bag even for a strong youngster like I was.
I helped her to a seat, managed to heave her bag into the overhead rack, and instructed her to be sure to come get me to help her off the bus at her destination or, if I got off at a previous stop, to be sure to get the driver to do so. She thanked me again, and I sat back down...
...And you know, it's a funny thing, but for some reason all them Defenders of Good seemed to have lost their voices by the time I regained my seat. As noisy as the ride to Bakersfield had been, we all enjoyed the quietest drive from there to Oakland that you can imagine. Silent Night.
It's a pity that they ran out of words though, as I can't help but wonder what the old lady might have had to say.
Maybe those pilgrims learned something that day. Maybe the ways of Peace and Love weren't so ineffective, after all. And maybe I'd be a better man if I were more like the man I was then. I don't know.
Anyway, I wish God's blessings of Peace and Love and Liberty to you all, a Joyous Christ Mass, a Happy and Prosperous New Year, and...
May God bless us, every one!
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