Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Summer of Love

Living and working in San Francisco in the mid sixties was like a dream come true. I had been travelling and away from home for about three years, having done the "Fairsky" to London where I worked for six months and the mandatory eight weeks around Europe, then to Canada and the Bahamas. San Francisco resonated with me in way that other places did not. Their was an excitement about it, which home did not have and it lived up to expectations which you have about different places when your travelling, some meet it for  little while like Nassau, then the novelty wears off. San Francisco maintained 'a happening vibe' constantly which was due to a lot of factors.

The city is  enticing, it looks good, it has a whiteness  and big sky that gives a clean look and like Sydney you can see it, it has a lot of vantage points due to the steep hills, that help hammer home, that your there. The location on the bay, close by the ocean and not far from the mountains reinforce the outdoors coupled with the parks of the Presideo and Golden Gate Park that are accessible for all.

The Oakland Bay Bridge

The vibrancy in those years came from the music - "If your coming to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair" written by the Mamas & Papas and sung by Scot McKenzie, epitomised the total feeling that welled up throughout the city. A whole generation my age was having a wild time, peacefully and mostly orderly for the whole summer and they were "flocking in" from every where.

The Flower Children of San Francisco

We were playing rugby  for the SFRC against the Olympic Club, on one of the fields in the Golden Gate Park and a couple of hundred yards away there was a "love-in" of about 30,000 hippies in another field. Above, a light two seater aeroplane flew over and Timothy Leary parachuted out and landed not far from our game which  was interrupted for about ten minutes by thousands of hippies invading our pitch to welcome 'Timothy' floating down like some god coming to meet his children.

Every vip arriving from Australia or going home via SF wanted to see the Haight Ashbury district, it never seemed to go to sleep, the smell of grass, incense, patchouli pervaded the air, the traffic was crawl pace with sidewalks overflowing with humans in the most amazing array of outlandish fashion and colour, similar to a scene on the sub continent, everyone wearing flowers in their hair or garlands around their necks.There was music from sidewalk guitarists, makeshift bongo groups, Harri Krishna's  conga lines and sound blasting from boarding house rooms and apartments.

Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fontain were guests at a cocktail party being held at the residence of the British Consul General and were later taken to a party at Haight Ashbury which was busted by the SFPD. They were assisted by two Australians who will remain nameless in their escape across the rooftops, the mind bogles with those two dancing across the rooftops of San Francisco.

Living in SF became like a dual existence, during the week working in the consulate was very conservative everyone wearing suits, collars and tie, with the daily office routine and rigours which governmental departments embrace. My role allowed much more freedom, taking visitors on city tours and meeting with Australians travelling through constantly alleviated any boredom and strictures of mundane office work. Evenings and weekends were driven by what was happening in the city which was determined by concerts and happenings in the parks, after game rugby parties and a romance that was blooming in the wings.

Lyn and Tony in Golden Gate Park

At one of the circuits I met a  hot chick, Lyn Lambertson,and we became an item. Lyn came from one of the Twin Peak Families and was a hostess with World Airlines. She was petite, bright, smart having completed her degree at the University of California, she had a very outgoing personality and was liked by and liked my friends. I got along well with her parents, especially her mother Clair.

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