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This is a real story about a real person, without tales, fiction or Hollywood special effects. All of it done on a very small budget or completely without one. So, it won't be as exciting as a film script. Anyway, I hope you'll find this unique form of not for profit online electronic art and unprofessional avant-garde literature interesting.

Where to begin? Perhaps I should begin with explaining how I became a hippie. The fact is, I don't really know why I became one because it wasn't anything planned but something that developed naturally. I suppose there were many reasons for that. The main one was probably because I was born in the middle of the 20th Century at the beginning of the Atomic Age. So, it was the Karma of those times that a small percentage of my generation tuned into. The peace sign that is associated with hippies illustrates that very well. The Peace sign was created by
Gerald Holtom for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in England in 1958.

Only about 2% of American youth participated in the Hippie movement, and I was the only hippie in my area. So it was not the mass movement it later became around 1970. I did not choose to become a hippie. I was called a hippy by others and got the nickname "Polish Hippy" from a Belgium classmate before it caught on and stayed with me through the years. So, I didn't take myself for a hippie at first until I was recognized as one. At first, I was following the British Invasion music artists, wore high heel boots and long hair like those artists or spoiled kids from good European homes. Then friends from the University of Chicago's campus in
Hyde Park turned me on to the peace movement and psychedelics. So, I†passed the so called "acid test" at an early age. All those things happened very quickly and naturally. So I would've been a hippie one way or another. It was inevitable with or without the so called initiation.


The hippie movement was a pacifist movement at a time when most Americans were being brought up on cowboy movies. [ Photo: the author as a child ]

By the way, the word "hippie" is also spelled "hippy". The spelling "hippy" is older. So I hope you won't mind if I use both spellings. The spelling "hippy" may be used more often as a noun, and the spelling "hippie" as a verb.

The hippie movement was a pacifist movement at a time when most of us were brought up on cowboy movies, wore neatly cut short hair or crew-cuts and used lots of brilliantine (Vitalis) to keep the hair glued in place and shining looking a bit like Elvis. Please remember that hippies in those days were a small minority. That may have been because of the exotic worldviews hippies shared and because hippies were a Bohemian type movement on American soil. I remembered seeing many young people like that in sandals with guitars and bongos on family trips across Europe when I was a kid. Many of those were the fashions and lifestyle types adopted by early beatniks, hipsters and hippies in the US. The ideas I found among participants of the anti-Vietnam War and the human rights movements were ones I easily identified with. In fact, the movement was so strongly connected with the anti-Vietnam War movement that it ended almost at the same time when the war ended; though many of us continued to carry the ideas and lifestyle in our hearts.

The hippie movement started in America and incorporated many ideas and things that were already taken for granted in Europe such as naturism, yopless sunbathing, herbal medicine, sexual liberation etc. But those were not accepted among most Americans in the 1960s, and still may not be among many American Christians. So in those days, things such as that were still associated with witches, communists, degenerates, Satanists etc. in America. USA and the rest of the world including Canada were very different in many ways. For those and other reasons hippies were a controversial subculture. They formed an informal political movement. Therefore, it's been said that hippies were social reformists that brought about many changes. Many of those changes we now take for granted.European hippies were also demanding change and organized protests but they didn't have the Vietnam war, a military draft and other issues to deal with as their American counterparts. They also traveled abroad more often probably because it was easier to do that from Europe to India, for example.

But perhaps I should begin by explaining that I was brought up in a cosmopolitan European family that moved to Chicago in early 1960s. My Parents spoke several languages, which is not uncomman for many Europeans. My Mom was born in Germany and my Dad was born in the Czech Republic, and they were Polish. They moved to Poland after World War I in the early 1920s. My Dad was a businessman and a professional artist. So perhaps the worldviews I was brought up on were more pragmatic then others in those days.

Beatniks, hipsters and hippies were urban subcultures, and a continuation of the European
bohemian scene. Hippies were most often kids from Middle Class homes. But there were other groups in the sixties that wore long hair such as for example members of motorcycle gangs. Hippies were, and many still are into certain things such as ecology, psychedelics, Peace, music, art, poetry, reformation of society and government, and other things like that. So hippies are social Reformers. That's also what Allen Ginsberg and the Beats were doing. Unlike some folks a hippy would never own a gun or shoot an animal. Real hippies are Earth loving folks. Hippies lived the way they did because it was an alternative lifestyle to the mainstream model that was focused mainly on consumptionism. Today it may seem that it was about taking drugs and taking bubble baths. But that's not the way it was. There were also some hippies that didn't bathe everyday and that drank more wine


From an old photo. Chicago 1967





The Blues Brothers at Calumet Harbor.
95th Street Bridge on Calumet River.

I was camera shy in the 1960s. That's probably why I have only few photos from those days. And none from Led Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Savoy Brown, Jethrol Tull and other concerts at the Fillmore or in Grand Park. Photos from a Jefferson Airplane concert in Grand Park are further down the page or in the 1960s Album. I don't have any from Anti-War marches and demonstrations that were held in Chicago. But who took cameras to those kinds of events in those days? So, I feel lucky to have the ones I have. Chicagoís Old Town was the Midwest's 1960s hippie Mecca. It wasn't just a neighborhood but a state of mind. The Old Town neighborhood is centerd around North and Wells Streets on the Near North Side. It has changed a lot since the sixties. Many may remember it for the Old Town School of Folk Music, Piper's Alley, 1960s folk music clubs such as Like Young, Earl Of Old Town, boutiques such as The Man At Ease, headshops, The Secondhand Rose, bookstores, cafes and the Second City Theatre at 1616 N. Wells that gave us the definitive Saturday Night Live cast, the Blues Brothers and Mike Myers aka. Wayn's World and Austin Powers. I believe Mike Myers well captures the Chicago area Rock spirit of mid 1970-80s in the Wayn's World series, and that of Mod fashions of mid 1960-70s in his Austin Powers films.


Mike Myers in Wayn's World and Austin Powers series movies

Old Town was also where an illegal backhouse tavern operated on Wells Street through the 1970-80s called The Blues Brothers Bar that was started by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, who later became better known from the 1980 Blues Brothers movie.

Old Town was a place where one could find many artists, writers,
beatniks, flower children, folk musicians, hipsters, artists, groovy shops with black lights, dayglow posters, incense, rubber peace stamps, hippie beads, goods from India, water pipes, rolling papers and other hippie parephernelia.


I remember Old Town best for its parties, Piperís Alley, Folk Music Cafes that I couldn't afford to visit too often, and Lincoln Park where we used to gathered on verious occasions. There was also a lot going on at the University of Chicago Campus, The Coffeehouse on 54th Street in Hyde Park near the Museum of Science and Industry and also in Grand Park. But that would be another long story.

Chicago is also well known for the demonstration at the
1968 Democratic National Convention, the Chicago Seven and also as the birth place of the Yippie Movement that was initiated there by Abbie Hoffman.

Later in about mid 1970s hippies went their seperate ways and followed various pet interests such as ecology, gay rights, civil rights and women's rights. Some also turned on to the Glam Rock or Glitter Rock sceen that was forming in New York, and believe it or not! also the underground Disco Music scene of the early 1970s esp. in Chicago. The Disco music grew around Motown and Soul music. But its characteristic rythm and beat came from the classic soul/disco song by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notesthe called "The Love I Lost" and others such as "Love Boat" by Earl Young from Phillidelphia in the late 1960s. The disco scene was very colorful and psychedelic. Chicago developed its own disco music style that is called House Music and which spread to other discos in Detroit and New York. House Music also influanced European Techno music; especially in Amsterdam.

The 1970s was a fun time when hippies materialized dreams of unity, happiness, peace and liberation. And for that reason I think it was a time of celebration expressed through partying, dancing and overindulging in different things. The Disco scene united gays, blacks, Latinos and people from many other walks of life. In the beginning it was a fun movement that started in underground clubs and gay bars located near major hippie centers of New York, Chicago and San Francisco. One of such early discos in Chicago was Dugan's Bistro also called Bistro Chicago at 420 N. Dearborn Street. Later others opened around what is today called the Boystown neighborhood and on Wells Street near Schiller Street in Old Town.


Click HERE to learn more

The disco movement burned itself out by the early 1980s and ended with burning of disco records at a Chicago stadion, an idea that came from a Chicago radio DJ. I was told that homophobia and racism played a great role in drawing uneducated riff-raff to those anti-disco gatherings. Similar campaigns were held against Rock & Roll music in 1950s and The Beatles' music in 1960s but were not as successful as that one against Disco music in 1970s. Yet, the spirit of the 50s, 60s and 70s survived.

Not until the 1990s did I realize how important role the movement played in the formation of music, art, urban lifestyles and worldviews that followed. The 1980s was a bleak decade marked by the spread of the Hiv virus, economic repression and oil crises. I was lucky to have not contracted the virus but did not manage to avoid joining the unemployed.


My friends at a Jefferson Airplane Concert in Grand Park, 1969.
Later that year some of my friends went to Woodstock in an old Cadillac hertz
that I saw later in the Woodstock 1969 Movie.


My Cousins had a great basement band in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1965.
The were the warm up band for The Rolling Stones' Concert in Milwaukee.
They also showed them around town in their red Thunderbird convertable.


Me and Joe, an old hippy friend from Chicago's Old Town and Near North Side, 1974.

Here's some photos from my 1969 trip to the Old Continent from Montreal.


I took this photo on the Atlantic Ocean in 1970 on my way back to Montreal, Canada

The vacation in Europe was extended to a half a year. It helped to make me more cosmopolitan and also solved my draft problem. Later, after reentering the United States through Canada, changing my address, dropping out of High School for a few years and not registering for the Armed Forces my draft situation was under control. However, I was risking a lot in case if I was cought. Iím still a bit sorry though, that I missed a chance to go to Woodstock and play around with my buddies in the rain and mud or the pond and the bushes. On the other hand, I was in Canada, England, Holland, Denmark and Poland. In Poland, I was kept on the border for hours, had my luggage searched and had many things taken by a Customs Officer. And after all of that, I was made to pay a ridiculous costumes tax on used clothes. All this because the customs officer found a Peace button, Zig-Zag rolling papers and a pipe in my luggage. It was a year after a wave of 1968 student protests in America and Europe. And it was also a year after the January and March 1968 student protests in Poland. But I did not find any hippies there. What I found were students and kids that were trying to look fashionable. They were also interested in buying my jeans and LP vinyl records. It was like stepping into a time warp there, but a good place to kick some bad habits and repair the condition my condition was in, lol. I also learned a bit about Marxism, which I found had nothing to do with the Marx Brothers or Marks & Spencer. But best of all, the buck went a long way there..


A photo of a street in London 1970

Later, I found out that Karol Marx was a romantic, who believed that the working class should have social benefits and more time to enjoy music, art and culture. He was greatly influenced by Adam Smith, a well known 19 Century Scottish Economist. Marx believed in globalization and that socialism would be good only for highly developed and industrialized capitalist nations. He did not recommend socialism for developing such developing countries like, for example Russia or India (!). Perhaps that's why it had failed in Eastern Europe and caught on in neighboring with Russia acountries such as Finland or Sweden. So, in many European countries the Working Class gained many social benefits and greater autonomy from government because of fear of spread of Communism.


On a tram stop at Al. Jerozolimskie & Nowy Swiat in Warsaw, Poland 1969


A residential street in London 1970


A monument I saw in Rotterdam, Netherlands 1970


Copenhagen, Denmark 1970

Now, I must point out that my life was not exactly a bed of roses. I'm still reaping the consequences of the events of the 60s that altered the course of my future forever.


Budapest, Hungary


Budapest, Hungary

A friend I crossed the Atlantic Ocean with . . .

On a ship entering a port in Montreal, Canada 1970



Newsweek, December 15, 1980





A family friend at Pipers Alley in Chicago's Old Town, 1968

The Peace Movement was over by the mid 1970s, underground FM radio stations turned commercial, head shops closed and so called hippie ghettos or Meccas turned into popular tourist traps. The War was over! Lennon got married, the Beatles broke up and the Peace Movement was over. Some hippies returned to their family homes, graduated, got jobs, joined political parties, climbed up the ranks of the decked out world, became succesful, joined the Rotary Club, became the new establishment and became better known as the Yuppies. However, my story and stories of many others were different; most hippies did not become Young Urban Proffesionals. But even though I may not always look like a hippy, I remain a hippy at heart.



1976



Family friends at Pipers Alley in Chicago's Old Town 1968










On the next pages are some photos that were altered for a psychedelic effect and a few words about 1960s fashions followed by a link to My 1960s Photo Album.




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Copyright © by Adam Wojtanek