Uncle Ernie's Hippie Daze



Uncle Ernie's Hippie Daze



Prolog page 1


One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small
... Grace Slick ...

The country was going to hell in a handbag. I found myself some how still alive, having just escaped in one piece from the US Army. My brief marriage to Bitchzilla was winding its way down. I had never really recovered or forgiven her for her 'Dear John' letter I received while in hospital at Ft. Carson. While relaxing and reading mail from home I was bitten on the throat by a spider and soon began to convulse and other funny things. The next day; while still delirious, they delivered a note from wifie. I still feel sorry for the nice nurse whom I punched in chest. While contemplating Bitchzilla's letter the Major had come in to take blood and missed my veins 8 times trying to get her sample. I have veins that jut; almost, from my arms. Veins a blind man could find. After the 8th attempted I lashed out at the Major pushing her away and she left the room post haste. I hadn't noticed until she was leaving that she was a Major and the head nurse. Moments later a corpsman came in and gave me something to drink and the next day I awoke feeling fine, they had given me a serum and knock out drops in a vat of blue liquid. While pondering this I suddenly remembered the Major and realized my army carrier and my marriage were over. The Major bless her heart, had a sense of humor and never mentioned the incident.

During the last days of my military career I met one of the original Haight-Ashberry Hippies who would help to start me on a road less traveled and change my life. There are two kinds of people in the Army, those who like the trip and those who don't! I decided I was of the latter. I had gone in as John Wayne and came out as Jane Fonda.

Back in Detroit I was ready for dem changes! There was a new political awareness in me, but where to vent it? Where better in the 60's than a college campus. Trouble was I had dropped out of Contact High in my senior year in order to marry Bitchzilla. So off I went to the University of Michigan to take their GED and CLEP tests. When I finished the GED I took the CLEP and then went out to lunch. I returned before the GED test was over to find that I had aced the GED and had earned enough college credits to start as a sophomore, with Uncle Sam paying most of the tab.

I found a job at a weekly newspaper doing the display ads and collecting over due accounts. As I worked part time at the paper I thought I could take a few classes at school and work for a degree in Political Science with minors in ancient and 20th century history. History had always fascinated me since I discovered the Roman Empire as a child. What I wanted to know was why we were in Viet Nam? Not the slogans but the truth. How had we got sucked into that? In high school the truth about history is hard to come by but in college the truth can be found, it's out there Fox!

On the home front there was a lot of tension. We got a nice little house and moved in but things had changed, this was made obvious, even to me. I being the forgiving chump that I am decided to try and make it happen again. Duh! As an avid sci-fi fan I began to try to write some of my own, it also kept me out of arguments with Bitchzilla. I was starting to make a little more from the paper and with our combined checks we started to get ahead and settle in. After a while the tension seemed to fade, at least to me.

I bought a 64 Ford Galaxy 500 fast back in a bright reddish orange. I had a 66 Ford LTD when I went in the service and even though I sent her money for the car, she didn't pay the bills and my dad had to buy it for himself. The Galaxy ran like a new one and I let the other car slide from my mind. Yes I was incredibly naive, I had bought the "Walt Disney Utopia" syndrome as a child and it was still hard to shake.

Prolog page 2

Between work, school and writing I managed to stay pretty busy and the arguments with Bitchzilla seemed to disappear. My anger with the Army was still there and it drove me to go way beyond my professor's lessons. One day I ran across a book about Uncle Ho that really opens my eyes. In his life story was told the reasons why this country had taken over from France, none of which had been mentioned by Lyndon Baines. Suddenly it was crystal clear to me why people were putting their lives on the line to stop the war. At that instant I was ready to bring the war back home to Washington DC where it belonged. Trouble was, all the people around me weren't, and in fact most of their political consensus was what they had been told. If you tell a lie enough times; no matter how bizarre, the people will go out of their way to believe it. Will try and defend it, no matter how ridiculous it seems when exposed for a lie. This was shocking to me, I thought that the truth would be enough. Pity that youth is wasted on the young!

Up to this point the only drugs that I had ever used were tobacco and alcohol. Although as a child I had discovered paregoric while cutting teeth and again while shedding my baby teeth. I had of course heard all the hoop-la about cannabis, LSD, cocaine and such but they hadn't come to my neighborhood yet. Neither had civil rights, liberal thought, or common sense for that matter. Everybody was still digging on the status quo, but like Dylan had said 'The Times They Are A Changing!" That change was in me now and there was no stopping it.

My work at the paper had mostly concerned building display ads and collecting over due accounts. My editor called me in one day to announce that I would also be handling the auto accounts. There were a couple dozen auto lots within blocks of the paper. He wanted me to sell them display advertising, so off I went. As far as the selling went it was very easy. The owners were already sold and most of my job concerned picking up the copy or informing them when we had a special edition. One day I happened into Larry's office and my life changed forever.

Larry was just out of Harvard with a MBA that he had gotten for the sake of his father. He was sitting in the office of a small used car lot that his father owned. The old man had retired and was letting Larry run the empire. Of all the properties that dad owned this was the smallest, least profitable, had been run as a tax loss, so Larry naturally wanted it. The factories, metal shops and such that might have needed him was ignored when ever possible. What Larry really wanted to do is sing and play his guitar, both of which he was very good at.

When I walked into his office he had just finished rereading African Genesis and looked up at me as he put the book down on his desk. I explained who I was and what I wanted and as he handed me his copy ask if I had read the book. I told him I hadn't. We then proceeded to discuss the book and the ideas that it promoted. From there it was a short hop to racial politics and a major argument. It was the first time in quite a while that I knew I had lost an argument and it made me stop and think more than I really wanted to. In fact a week later when I returned to his dealership I felt rather foolish about what I had said last week. After getting his ad copy we began where we had left off the week before and I explained that I had thought about what he had to say and would like to apologize for being an idiot. He shrugged this off and said that it was no big thing and we began discussing the war and what I had discovered. Somewhere during this he brought out his 12 string and began to play me a song he had written. I told him that I had been playing since age five and soon I was playing him a few old Dylan songs.

Prolog page 3

Somewhere during this exchange we became fast friends. Larry had just gone through those changes that I was just experiencing and made my transition so much easier. I'm a firm believer of learning from the mistakes of others; I know it's a tough concept for some to grasp, although I haven't always taken advantage of this, much to my personal cost.

When I'd discuss these conversations with Bitchzilla they would usually lead to an argument. So needless to say I stopped talking to her about them. I was having enough trouble with her over my job, which required me to work very late one night a week, to get the paper ready for publishing.

One of my customers was a local camping center. After talking with the twin brothers who ran it one day, I decided to apply for a job there and much to my surprise I got it. So as 1967 turned into 1968 I started a new job and a redoubling of my efforts to make my marriage work. Both would be gone in about 100 days.






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