I was 14 that summer of 1967, nowhere near San Francisco, but instead strumming a guitar in French camp in Lakeville, Connecticut. Earlier in June, I’d already worn out one vinyl album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Surrealistic Pillow, with its mauve cover, was well on its way to pops and clicks. I couldn’t get enough of White Rabbit.
Who knew that wind chimes, sunlight through stained glass, and sandalwood could open up another world, one of peace and love?
Once the girls in our group arrived at the camp, we lost touch with the happenings in the world and in Golden Gate Park, likely to the relief of our parents. The camp directors must have been out of touch with the happenings as well when they decided on a special activity, a day trip to Provincetown at the far end of Cape Cod. We left right after breakfast in a bus, singing standard camp songs along the way. It was a long ride but pleasant as we drove along the curve of the Cape, as gradually the air changed from an earthy aroma to the tangy, salty smell of the sea.
When we got off the bus, we stepped into an alternate universe. Crowds of young people, older than us but not by a lot, strolled calmly down the streets of town; bearded young men wearing headbands, tunic shirts, and bell bottoms; young women in granny dresses and glasses. And the shops, like nothing we’d ever seen! Head shops with all kinds of paraphernalia, thrilling and scary at the same time. Scroll work earrings, each pair bigger and longer than the next. I can’t remember the earrings I bought but I do remember the blue and turquoise paisley scarf, which somehow survived until the new century and earned me the title of “most authentic” at a 60s party when I wore it as a headband.
Most touching was the little shop where wind chimes tinkled at the door, and light passing through stained glass created geometric shapes of rainbow colors on the walls. Incense of sandalwood and patchouli blended with the salt air. There wasn’t a sound except for the wind chimes and the drone of the ocean. Any cares that I had melted, if just for that moment.
Soon our group met up on the docks, where we sat in rowboats and ate fresh lobster dipped in butter. For most of us, it was the first time we experienced that rich treat. Before we knew it, we had to return to the bus and get on our way back to camp. The ride was remarkably quiet. No one felt the need to utter a sound.
Who knew that wind chimes, sunlight through stained glass, and sandalwood could open up another world, one of peace and love? I’ll always remember that one-day window into the Summer of Love.
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.