Who Saw the Summer of Love?


Jay and Ron Thelin outside The Psychedelic Shop, c. 1966.

“San Francisco has always been a boomtown, and California has always called to people from far-flung parts of the country. The massive migration to California during the Summer of Love in 1967 was much like the 1849 Gold Rush: everyone came here looking to enrich themselves. Young hippies who came to San Francisco with flowers in their hair were as diverse as the 49ers, all with their own needs and desires, each harboring different hopes. As we enter into the final months of 2016, we look forward to the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the Human Be-In held in Golden Gate Park on January 14, 1967. Organized by Allen Cohen and Michael Bowen of The San Francisco Oracle, it was advertised as a ‘gathering of the tribes’– appropriating Native American symbolism to signify the happening as one of loving union. Contrary to popular belief, the hippie movement was not uniform even if it was cohesive, so we thought it wise to explain how the different factions of 1960s counterculture differed and how they overlapped as we work our way into the new year. This post is the first in a series attempting to explain Sixties stakeholders–beginning with the Haight Independent Merchants and The Diggers. There would be no story here if the Sixties had nothing to sell. Summer of Love style may have seemed strange to outsider straights, but its development is indicative of a cycle that continues to recur. Cultural fads originate among the poor, the young, the disenfranchised because necessity is the mother of invention. The beauty of youth is the gift of fresh perspective and the ability to experiment with minimized consequences. This combination manifests differently within individual people or groups, and is most evident in visual expressions such as art, fashion, and design. Each generation takes what has come before to forge the future, and underground trends see mainstream light because capitalism lives by folding the fringe into the middle. For example, the 1990s are back in fashion now because those frocks have been cheap and readily available in second-hand stores–discarded by our parents as they downsize into retirement, just as the latest millennials (who can’t vividly remember that decade) enter into young adulthood and seek to make their mark in a sluggish economy.  …”
Summer of Love
Diggers, “Trip Without a Ticket,” c.1966-1968
Frieze, Diggers, Mimes, Angels and Heads


Courtesy of The Digger Archives via FoundSF

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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