Sometime in the spring of 1972 when I still considered myself a hippie ... For some reason I can sense both of my loyal readers groaning in the background so I may have to proceed without them.
Yep, I was one of them long-haired hippies that the American Legion, Elks, Moose and Eagles club were hoping would disappear with their "America, love it or leave it" bumper stickers and banners. My hair reached below my shoulders (it looked better in a ponytail than it did flowing in the wind), all of my pants were bell-bottoms, my shirts were T’s, my shoes were sandals made from tires and along with the peace sign on the top of my 1964 Dodge Power Wagon there was a bumper sticker that said "Have a Nice Day." So I was a pretty good target for what we used to call warmongering rednecks.
Peace was our goal and I always wished I was the guy in a photo who during a campus riot stuffed a daisy into a soldier’s gun barrel. That and the fellow who stood in front of a line of tanks in China’s Tiananmen Square had a lot of courage and we hippies really liked just about anything that stood up to what we called the status quo.
Anyway, I graduated from college back in 1972, when Renee and I bought a 1961 Volkswagen van from John and Gwen Mushik for $500. Our plan was to live in it for the rest of our lives but the van needed some work so Uncle George Toman helped us turn it into a camper with a collapsible bed and such. I painted it blue and white then topped it off with a huge peace sign on the roof.
Then we took off for wherever we went and for the record, there were many days that we didn’t know where we were going until after we got there. Sometimes we’d pull into a KOA campground next to a land yacht and as we set up our card table, Coleman stove and such below their dining area window the snap of their blinds closing let us know that they didn’t care much for hippies. After about six months of this we landed way up in the mountains above Denver.
We settled into a place called Critchell and parked our van in a garage because the house was filled with five guys, two girls and a dog. Everyone there was originally a flatlander from Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma or Texas so it was a rather ecumenical group who loved playing in the mountains.
And that’s what we did. We explored the wilderness, fished, hiked, camped, enjoyed concerts at Red Rocks, treks to Mount Evans and discovered Colorado is a pretty nice place to be. Above all else though we made some lifelong friends who had high hopes and dreams that peace would be achieved in our lifetime.
Then each of us went our own way and here we are today wondering how come that dream never came true. I think ignoring President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning about the military industrial complex has a lot to do with it, but more so the blame lies with "we the people" (me and you) by allowing our leaders to spend the vast majority of our treasures on war.
A while back I told both my loyal readers that the world would indeed be a different place if we had spent those trillions on the Peace Corps. So I’m saddened to say that my generation hasn’t done any better than any other generation, so here’s hoping the next generation will be better at giving peace a chance than we were … peace.