A Brief Age of Aquarius – Part 4

Originally posted athttps://www.facebook.com/groups/46445798421/permalink/10154223030648422/

by James Townsend, October 27, 2016

Hippie Grub and Grubby Hippies

Feeding Boulder’s burgeoning immigrant population was becoming a problem. An estimated 1,000 hirsute hobos were showing up in Boulder every week, bringing with them a panhandling epidemic. The business community was freaking out, and blaming them for the growing trash problems on the Hill, even though most of the trash was food wrappers and beer cans, likely not the discards of pot-smoking long hairs, but those of partying frat boys. Ever the idealist, though, I decided that I could do something to make peace, and so I went to some of the business owners and suggested we hold a hippie/straight people meeting. I thought that a demonstration of goodwill was called for, and so I asked for donations of brooms and garbage cans, and put up posters for a hippie street sweeping event. Somehow the Denver Post got wind of it and photographed a bunch of us magically making the muck disappear.

Then I had the bright idea drawing the hungry beggars away from the hill by rounding up discarded food from the stores in town, and making great vats of stew and salad for a nightly hippie feast in Central Park. It was a moderate, if short-lived, success, with bands and straight families coming out to enjoy the weirdos and music. I worked at it diligently for a few weeks, believing that it would catch on and become self-sustaining. Soon, though, I became disheartened by the lack of enthusiasm my brethren showed for helping, and silently slunk away from the whole thing. For the first time I began to suspect that the Boulder renaissance didn’t signal the beginning of a new age. Clearly not everyone was getting the message. That summer, though, I was encouraged to see a film of Wavy Gravy, the founder of the Hog Farm, standing on the stage of the original Woodstock concert and announcing, “What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000!” I wasn’t the only one, it seemed, who wanted to show what could be done by a determined few. But I missed Woodstock. Later that year, His Gravyness came to Boulder, parked his bus on 17th Street around the corner from Kit’s place and treated all comers to hits on his nitrous oxide tanks. Missed that, too, dammit.

Speaking of putting stuff in your mouth, it probably goes without saying that Boulder was destined to become a major player in the organic and natural food phenomenon. One of the foremost pioneers, and a card-carrying member of the Boulder Family, was Mo Seigal. Mo worked for a while with Hannah Kroeger, a little old German immigrant who became Boulder’s internationally known expert on herbs, potions, and alternative healing. Hannah’s Herb Shop was the only health food store in Boulder in those days, and Mo sold teas and juices there.

One day while wandering the Hill I ran into a very excited Mo. “What’s up, brother?” I asked. He held up a little cotton drawstring bag stuffed with herbs. The label read, “Mo’s 24 herb tea.” “I’m picking these in the mountains, and I’m going to start a company,” he said. “Far out!” I replied, a ubiquitous and generally non-committal phrase in the ’60s, replaced nowadays with “Awesome!” I didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body, but I appreciated his enthusiasm. Within a few years he and Bunky and others from the extended family went to work building Celestial Seasonings, and damned if it didn’t become the largest herbal tea company in the world, and the anchor for all the other natural-product companies that now like to call Boulder home. I’ve heard second-hand about some disappointment and betrayals along the way to building Celestial into a standard bearer, but I have no personal experience.

Darkness Creeps In

As the scene grew, it started getting a little ugly. So many people were coming that they began camping out on the lands near Nederland—no bathroom facilities, no order, no manners. Truly dirty hippies, which became the moniker for anyone with long hair. One scruffy group, in particular, set everyone’s teeth on edge. With nicknames like Grody, Patty Rotten Crotch, LB, Wabbit, Candy, Charles B. Beard, Daisy May, Asshole Dave (of the affiliated Asshole Family), and Chuck and Mike Motherfucker, they were the scourge of Boulder. They called themselves the STP family and their titular leader was this crazy 19-year-old dude who wore a cap gun on his hip and called himself Deputy Dawg (real name, Guy Howard Gaughnor). He had hitchhiked to Boulder from his parent’s lake-front home in an affluent West Minneapolis suburb. He and his fellow misfits formed a commune outside Nederland around a teepee fashioned from stolen fire hoses, and proceeded to give a bad name to all hippies. Deputy Dawg was always mixing it up with the law, got arrested a number of times for drunkenness and theft. Then in 1971, he was causing trouble at Nederland’s Pioneer Inn, and the town’s deputized marshal, a bull-necked bully named Renner LeRoy Forbes, showed up to take DD away. A month later, the boy’s body was found in a remote canyon with two bullet holes, one in his body and one in his head—a fateful encounter between “deputies.” Some people muttered “good riddance” and compared Mr. Dawg and his flock to the Manson family. It took 26 years, but Forbes finally confessed to the murder after a stroke put him in a nursing home.

A couple of weird follow-ups: Many years later I met an ex-member of the STP family (he’d cleaned up his appearance, but he was still a mess psychologically), and learned that all of them were spoiled kids from upper-middle class families just out to raise some hell. Too much money and no vision, I guess. (Coincidentally, a recent bombing attempt at the Nederland Police station has been attributed to one of the STP family members)

Then, around 1987, I was wandering the streets of Annapolis, Maryland, and happened upon a Southwest jewelry store with a girlfriend. I went in and started a conversation with the owner, a short, congenial guy behind the counter wearing a cowboy hat. “Nice stuff,” I said, “where do you find it?”

“The usual places,” he said, “Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado.”

“Really?’ I said. “I’m from Colorado. Lived in Boulder for a few years with a little hippie group we called the Boulder Family.”

He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye. “1725 Canyon Boulevard?”

I took a step back. “Yes! How do you know that?”

“I’m Brad Leach,” he said. Pause … “I was sheriff of Boulder County for 17 years.”

“Wow, no shit?”

“Nope. We knew all about you guys, what went on there.”

I thought about all the drugs and underage sex and craziness in that hovel. “And …?”

“Well, you weren’t causing any trouble. Hell, there were people like the STP Family, and cops around Boulder in those days that made Mark Fuhrman [the racist LA detective made infamous by the O.J. Simpson trial] look like a Boy Scout. Had to keep a closer eye on them than you people.” I figured out later he might have been talking about, among others, Nederland deputy Forbes who shot the STP’s deputy Dawg in the back of the head.

“Naw, you folks were all right,” he said.

“Wow, that’s amazing. So,” I asked, “what’ve you been doing since you retired?”

He literally winked. “Everything I should have been doing back then.”

We smiled at each other, shook hands, and I left his shop with a renewed faith in humanity.

To be continued …

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