Roll Up, Roll Up — for the Greyhound Bus Hippyland Tour!

Jun 12, 2017 | 12596 Views | 6 Comments

So, you’re trippin’ with your blue-jean baby down a marijuana-scented street, wearing your tie-dyed shirt, love beads and huaraches, when you hear an announcement blaring from a packed tour bus: “Now, ladies and gentlemen, if you look to your left you’ll see a hairy hippie passed out in front of the Phật Phúc Noodle Bar. Ahead on the right you’ll notice a parade of shaved-head Hare Krishnas — such a happy lot, wrapped in their orange gauze! Oh, and do you see those scraggly kids carrying signs that say ‘drop acid, not bombs’? They’re the pinko-loving, un-American war protestors. Now, just up ahead on your left is a store where stoners buy things called zig-zag paper and roach clips. They call it a ‘head shop’….don’t ask me why!”

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 1.18.56 PMWhat better way to take in the sights, sounds and aromas of the Summer of Love than to book a reservation on a Greyhound Bus Line “Hippyland Tour” of the famous Haight-Ashbury district.

This San Francisco neighborhood was the epicenter of psychedelia in 1967. Musicians, akin to snake charmers, hypnotized the beautiful flower-children who gyrated like whirling dervishes. India-inspired glad rags and Peter Max posters filled the funky shops. And LSD had everybody seeing white rabbits. Kids were heading to SF with flowers in their hair to obey Jefferson Airplane’s directive: find somebody to love. George Harrison dropped down from the heavens to partake of the scene. The Monterey Pop Festival was the place to be, and the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album (released on June 1) was the LP to smoke dope to. Time magazine’s July 7 cover story was “The Hippies: The Philosophy of a Subculture.” Mainstream society was catching on. TV’s most trusted anchorman, Walter Cronkite, clued the clueless in on the happenings on his nightly network news report.

I, a child of 7 whose favorite “Revolver” song was the hypnotic “Tomorrow Never Knows,” stared at our black-and-white cabinet TV with envy at the scenes of peaceniks putting daisies in the barrels of police rifles, hippies dancing in a hallucinogenic stupor in Golden Gate Park, and pinkos burning draft cards in Chicago. Heck, by the time the Age of Aquarius hit Pennsyltucky it was already the Age of Libra. But I could dream, couldn’t I?

time-magazine-hippiesIt was cultural voyeurs like me (and profit potential) that no doubt inspired Greyhound to launch a “Hippland Bus Tour” of the Haight district in April of 1967. Imagine, everyone from wanna-be hipsters to well-coiffed housewives to short-haired accountants (as John Lennon described the unhip) gawking through bus windows, in awe of this psychedelic horn-a-plenty! It was a Magical Mystery Tour for those who dreaded what their kiddies might dream of experiencing. The media played up the Greyhound tour, drawing thousands of kids to the Haight to perform like wild zoo-children, while spectators snapped photos with their little Kodaks, safe behind tempered glass.

The youthquake of 1967 was a short-lived diversion from the troubles of the day. It wouldn’t be long before 1968 ushered in some of the worst tragedies of the decade: the mayhem at the Democratic National Convention, student-cop clashes on campuses, mounting Vietnam War horrors, and the assassinations of two leaders who offered us hope: Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. “Blood on the streets runs a river of sadness,” sang Jim Morrison.

Here’s the original Scott McKenzie song that set the mood for 1967. “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.”

Nearly a year after first publishing this article, I was thrilled to receive an email from the beautiful young lady in the photo at the top of this post. Her name is Kathy Aydelotte Castro, and she was only 16 when photographer Robert W. Klein took this picture of her during a Summer Solstice gathering in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in 1967. He took the photo for the Associated Press; it was later published in various newspapers and magazines. Klein may or may not have asked for her written permission to publish this photo. Nevertheless, the name “Judy Smith” became attached to it. She’s never received any type of recognition for the picture, so I hope to correct that now!  Thanks, Kathy, for finding my blog and contacting me. It’s great to connect with someone whose photo I chose from the dozens I screened for this article. (Apologies to Mr. Klein for using the photo without his permission.)

© Dana Spiardi, May 6, 2014

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  1. Dave says:

    April 12th, 2013 at 8:23 pm (#)

    Yea for capitalism. Greyhound was ahead of its time. Who cares about public opinion when there’s a buck to be made. When are they going to legalize pot everywhere? Money will prevail. That museum will separate the true hippies from the capitalist. Only a true hippie or a very rich person will part with their authentic memorabilia. Peace and Love. Give me a head with Hair, Oops that was ’68.

  2. Rockin Janey Mac says:

    April 12th, 2013 at 10:48 pm (#)

    So THIS is what my life has come to. I’m a footnote in history. A colorful anomaly to amuse the tourists. Do the tour guides bother to tell these people that real ART was made in Haight-Ashbury? A philosophy that changed the city of San Francisco forever was born? Janis. Jimi. The original Allman Brothers Band at the FuckinFillmore. The posters for those shows ALONE changed the visual arts. Not to mention what Bill Graham did for music. And swearing.

  3. Dave says:

    May 7th, 2014 at 10:21 pm (#)

    Whose Dave? That was a good comment. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Picture this same scenario in 2014. The National Guard and FBI would be looking for sixteen year old Kathy.

  4. M.M. says:

    June 5th, 2015 at 7:22 pm (#)

    I was asked to give my first-person notes on 60’s life in Haight-Ashberry. But, before I comment on your vision of the Haight, I’d like to express my admiration for third-grader Dana–radicalized and listening to the good stuff at age 8!! In my book, that spells p-r-o-d-i-g-y. Apparently, you haven’t flagged a bit over the years.

    I arrived in the Haight in 1969, that being the earliest I could shed my academic skin without being subject to the draft. Missing Monterrey in ’67 hurts to this day.Sadly the “Summer of Love” was also a 1967 event, so I missed that white heat moment of Hippiedom. Sniff.

    In ’69, there was still a healthy remnant of the serious “All You Need Is Love” hippie society. But the Gypsy Joker motorcycle gang now cruised Waller Street (one block above Haight) selling meth and producing a subculture of dirty, strung-out, totally wasted kids. Great fodder for the tour buses.The “real” hippie population was leaving the city in droves realizing the madness of trying to craft a separate, sustainable lifestyle in an increasingly hostile city. So, “back to the land” and all that, e.g., The Farm in Summertown, TN. By 1971, SF felt emptied out and lonely, so my familyalso hit the road, decamping to land in Oregon owned by a former nun who had the far-fetched, but admirable, dream of creating a mini-society of enlightened, cooperative, productive, loving longhairs. It lasted two years before most of the population decided that the path of growing your own food, doing your own plumbing, and watching everyone’s kids did not offer long-term stability..

    Some things, however, remained– ahhhh, the gyrating hippie chicks, usually dressed in loose diaphanous threads.”India-inspired glad rags” is a very accurate description. Very,very seductive. The Hare Krishnas stuck around–annoying people, chanting, panhandling (which is, I suppose, the most honest way to earn money if you’ve rejected the pleasures and requirements of the flesh (e.g.,a job)), desperate to latch onto something. These were generally not the brightest lights but were totally harmless. But, you got it right, there was a shining season where it felt like we had the power.

  5. Kat Castro says:

    March 25th, 2016 at 9:44 pm (#)

    Wow, it always amazes me peoples veiws. I eas there, I eas a runaway, by the way, thats my picture youu have ib here, im the blonde with flowers in my hair and the painted face. That wS taken at the summer soltice June 1967. I was a runaway from Fresno, Ca. That day Janis Joplin was walking around Golden Gate Park, with a bottle. Oc Southern Comfort in her hand. The Grateful dead were there, they were on a flat bed truck playing music and drinking wine, they let me climb up on the truck for a while, and Bob Wier even climbed down and was tossing around this huge : beach ball with a lot of other people, I was up there for 3-weeks the first time, also went to montery pop with some hippes I eas staying with. There is so much more,to my story, but not near enough space to share it. Thanks for using my pic!! Peace out!

  6. Kat Castro says:

    July 25th, 2016 at 8:32 am (#)

    Its me the blond hiel with.the painted face and flowers in.my hair. That pic was taken 49 years ago og me when I was a runaway from Fresno.
    It seems ive become the posterchild for the symmer of love.
    It was a lifechanfing time for me. I m still a hippie just a responsible one lol. I love people, life and God..
    My life has been far from boring….. Thanks for sharing my now famous pic!!! Peace out!!

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