Man, this is a bummer. All these years, I was so proud of being a hippie. I mean, gimme some skin, the ’60s were out of sight. You have no idea what a bad scene it was back then. Our parents were so uptight. You could tell by the threads they wore. All they cared about was making bread. They were such conformists, I was totally turned off.

So a bunch of us, we just tuned out. We started doing our own thing. We’d hang out at someone’s pad. We’d be sitting there, totally spaced-out, listening to jams. My friends and I were so tight, sometimes we’d rap all night. I remember the sun waking me up and we’d all be sitting in the same chairs from the night before.

Mornings were the pits, though, because then we’d have to go to work. None of us dug our jobs. No one wanted to work for the man. I was stuck sorting letters in a mailroom. The vibe was terrible. The machines were so loud and I couldn’t help thinking of all the trees that died for this junk mail. 

After work was a gas, though. We’d ride our bikes through Thatcher Woods. Nature is so beautiful, man. We were wearing Earth shoes, tie-dyed shirts and cutoffs. That’s one of the things we changed. Thanks to us, a lot of men stopped wearing suits. Women didn’t have to wear dresses and white gloves. 

Heck, the chicks we hung out with, I can’t even tell you what they wore. You wouldn’t believe it. Of course, we weren’t really hanging out that much because babes didn’t dig riding bikes in the woods at night. But we did check ’em out on the street. 

As we changed the world, some of us started living in communes. We created utopias, where we’d all share. We rejected rules and materialism. My friends and I hitchhiked everywhere: Boston, San Francisco, even checked out Cincinnati. As long as we had some bread and a place to crash, it was a blast.

But it all changed. My friends only dropped out for a year or two. The next thing you know, they’re lawyers, or trying to sell me insurance. It was such a downer. They were worse than my old man and old lady, when it came to wanting money and things. We stopped hanging out. They sat around staring at the boob tube.

So, anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, I was always so proud of how we changed America. We got the whole world wearing jeans. But I was flashing back with a friend and he told me it wasn’t all good. Our folks may have been total conformists but they had some good ideas, too. It’s a bummer how we rejected everything they did.

They were joiners. My parents were out every night at some meeting, or having fun, like playing cards. They bowled in leagues. They dug their friends and neighbors. They were tuned into all these organizations. They were so square but they kept the church groups going and the VFW, while my generation was busy doing their own thing. 

I don’t mean to rap too long but we wrecked that sense of community the older generation loved. Now I live in Forest Park, and I’m so glad to see the younger generation stepping up. They’re joining the park board. They’re on the village council. They even revived Rotary and Kiwanis. 

I got to sit down with these cats someday, to see what made them care so much about community. Until then, Peace! 

 John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.