What I did then. What I wouldn’t do now.

Posted on November 15, 2010


Although I had no part of the free sex of the 60s, and only slightly more of the more-than-free-but-still cheap drugs of the era, I look back on some of the things I did back then and wonder how I survived.


I hitchhiked with my then best friend from Philly to Trenton, so that she could see her boyfriend.  It took us seven rides to get there, a distance of 25 miles.  This must set some kind of record for the most inefficient hitchhiking ever, with the possible exception of  the young women in the 1977 film “Hitch Hike to Hell” who never quite got to where they were going, mostly due to being almost murdered by the guy who picked them up.  One of our rides included a car that was filled with parakeets (luckily, most of them were in cages) and another with two grown men who looked like Mafiosos.  We thought there might be something suspicious when one immediately got into the back seat. Our ride with them lasted less than one block.  We demanded that they stop the car immediately.  They did so and we exited.  During the seventh ride, the driver read us the riot act about the dangers of hitching rides.  We listened respectfully, but we really thought it was all a hoot.


My friends and I had ingenious ways to get free housing whenever we went to New York for the weekend.  One of those escapades resulted in our going with a group of boys who said they had free accommodations.  They did.  We all slept in an abandoned warehouse on the Bowery.  With no heat.  In the winter. Another resulted in our going home with someone who turned out to be a member of a sort of famous band back then.  We slept at his place and had breakfast in the morning.


I went to the Newport Folk festival with a friend, met members of the sound company for the event and accepted an invitation to stay with them in their trailer.  Not only was the lodging free, but we then spent all of our time at the festival in the backstage area reserved for performers and support crew. 


I would have gone ballistic if I found out that my daughter had done some/any of that.  The world is a different place now than it was back then.  Back then, what we did was stupid.  Now, it’s full tilt boogie crazy.  But incredibly enough, no one ever tried to take advantage of me or my friends.  We were fairly innocent, believe it or not, and we stayed that way. 


I wonder if I would do any of those things now, assuming I could turn 18 again.  Hitchhiking?  No way.  Bumming a free place to stay in New York?  I think not.  Sleeping in a big trailer with the sound crew at a music festival?  That’s still a real possibility.  There’s a part of me that still likes the idea of an “adventure,” of doing something that’s a little bit risky.  I don’t think that will ever stop.  Only my current adventures don’t involve hitchhiking or sleeping in strange places. 

Although there was that truy unique motel in Clearwater Beach, Florida that I swear was being run by the Russian Mafia.  But that’s another story.