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Where did all the 'hippies' go?
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Friday, June 25, 2010

By CHARLES BOOTHE -

"Those darn hippies! They started this country on the road to ruin!"

I don't know how many times I've heard my wife say that, and it's one of several ongoing arguments we have (good-natured, since we both love to debate).

We don't hear much about hippies anymore, but many of us remember a time when they were always in the news, mostly bad news. They were the long-haired, sandal wearing, tye-dyed, pot-smoking members of a counterculture that touted peace and love, often using the war in Vietnam as a rallying point to show how evil people, the world and the country can be.

They preached sexual freedom and communal living, believing that, yes, we really all can get along.

I remember many members of my family harping on the hippies, some even saying they should gather them all up and send them to Vietnam.

My wife is convinced they profoundly changed our country, introducing an era that saw an anything goes, free-wheeling, devil-may-care attitude that has over the years left a scary legacy -- a nation with more than its share of spoiled and lazy people who have abandoned the work ethic and teachings of our ancestors and want everything handed to them on a platter.

Well, maybe we agree on the current state of things, but I don't think the hippies had much to do with it.

Hippies were a bunch of idealistic, rebellious kids who were fortunate to come along during a time when they had a little money (often their parents' money), didn't want to work and had just enough education to think they were smart.

Or at least that pretty much describes the hippies I knew. No, I don't guess I was officially a hippie since I didn't have long hair (tried it one time, but I looked like a cross between Michael Bolton and Gene Wilder) and I went into the military while the Vietnam War was still happening.

Draft-dodger? Are you kidding?

If I would have tried that, the government would have been the least of my worries. My own family would've killed me.

Anyway, I've always argued that television has played a much larger role in what many see as a decline in the morals and dedication to liberty of many people.

The hippies were part of the picture, but had relatively little impact.

And, guess what, most of them finally grew up.

Case in point.

When I was living in West Virginia many years ago, two hippie couples from Providence, R.I., brought a piece of land and a couple of rundown houses on Pigeon Creek. They wanted to try a different way to live, they said, all living together, working the land, sharing everything and, well, probably growing some pot, too.

They were fun, laid back and nice people, but I sure was skeptical about what they were trying to do, and had long conversations with them about it.

They were all about peace and love, living in harmony with each other and with nature.

I told them I thought that was a tad bit idealistic, that human nature doesn't really lend itself to such living arrangements, and it's a struggle for one family to live together without killing each other, much less a passle of people.

Of course, they were convinced they were different and, yes, it would work, just watch.

I did watch, and it wasn't long before several problems surfaced.

"Working the land" was a lot harder than they anticipated, so it wasn't long before the guys were looking for odd jobs to earn money to keep food on the table.

And it wasn't long before little disputes popped up, eventually prompting one of the couples to leave for a while.

Their little Garden of Eden didn't last long, and all of them after a few years moved away, settled down, went to school or got jobs and started raising a family.

And I am sure they sit around now like most of us do, complaining about the dang government, trying to raise kids and make money, and wondering if the country is going to Hades on a bobsled.

In other words, the hippies finally grew up.

 
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