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It is my intention that this writing will add unique insights into the time period known as the sixties. I have consciously endeavored to create more than a family chronicle.

The era between 1963 through 1975 was a time of change and social upheaval rooted in post World War II and the Cold War 1950s. Many of the social activists, anti-war crusaders and counterculture hippies of the sixties grew up in the fifties in tightly knit, lily white communities well insulated from people of color and poverty. They went to church on Sunday, enjoyed family vacations, did not question authority, held conservative, Neo-Victorian values about sex and often equated liberalism with communism. Our nation, so it went in the fifties, was blessed by God and could do little wrong. The possibility of nuclear annihilation was always present and was the major issue for the time. It was a world that hid its deep social problems of poverty and racism, where divorce was uncommon, where sex was seldom mentioned and rarely flaunted, and “damn” was a cuss word. It was for those of us who lived in it an isolated, secure, unrealistic and almost antiseptic environment.

As we came of age at the dawn of the sixties, a social and political storm was brewing—a storm that would blow the cover off the tightly contained 1950s. The storm hit with a fury: The Civil Rights Movement, a new focus on poverty, the struggle for a decent life in the inner cities, an unpopular war in a distant land called Vietnam, the questioning of religious beliefs, the Free Speech Movement on the Berkeley campus, and a sexual revolution. Under such an onslaught, the values and life styles of the fifties quickly eroded for many of the young who were coming of age. The specter of nuclear war that had hovered over the fifties took a back seat to issues and crises in our own back yards. Confronted by the growing storm, many of us became disillusioned with the foundations of our upbringing. Our perceptions changed so that we began asking questions we’d never heard asked, much less thought about: questions about prejudice, poverty, white privilege and religious doctrine. We noticed things wrong with our country−things that had not been talked about in our well insulated communities. Authority and middle class values were questioned and the hypocrisy of our nation laid bare.

The change was palpable in everything from dress to religion. The grey flannel suit gave way to tie dye; mainline religion was shaken by questions about the existence of God; authority was under siege in Berkeley and on campuses across the country. For many young people “rebel” became a mark of pride. Unlike the teenage Rebel Without a Cause depicted by James Dean in a popular movie of the fifties, most of the young rebels sought a cause for a nobler culture, peace, racial and economic justice or simply for love. Thus, the sixties were given birth and they carried on in youthful rebelliousness, and sometimes naive exuberance.

One might say that the young have always rebelled, and this is true. However, this rebellion was different. It was more visceral, more holistic and widespread, and more deeply rooted than other social rebellions in contemporary history. It affected superficial and/or transitory norms like dress and hair styles, alienation from the world of parents, and sexual repression. Yet it also bore deeply into issues of racial and social injustice, peace, the growing divide between rich and poor, and an overblown fear of communists. As a result, our society would deeply and dynamically experience cultural, social, racial, and political change.

By the late sixties and early seventies, young people were becoming disillusioned. They had seen too much violence and killing on our campuses and streets and in Vietnam. They had witnessed the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Tired of the extremism and political correctness that had taken over much of the left, which was being called “the movement,” these young people were tired of listening to meaningless “wannabe revolutionary” debates about Trotsky or Lenin or the wisdom of Mao. Many of the young rebels sought a new life that embraced love, peace, drugs, simplicity, spirituality, and nature. They traversed the country, especially during the summer, hitchhiking or traveling in old vans and hand built campers. They congregated in places like Vermont, Colorado, New Mexico and California to set up communes, or they hung out together in urban areas or under rural skies. These were days of life and love!

Most of the travelers and seekers were young and single. We were a tightly knit family, and we too got caught up in one of these summersthe summer of 1971. After selling our Detroit house and most of the belongings that we had accumulated during eleven years of marriage, our family of five set out on a journey of unknown destination and duration.

We had tried in the early days of our marriage to live like young married people had in the fifties, but there was a restlessness, a desire for adventure, and a longing for a deeper meaning to life. We had become disillusioned with our life as social activists in the inner-city of Detroit. We felt trapped in a cycle of social negativity and empty, impersonal political rhetoric. We sought to create a new culture for ourselves, one that countered the negativity of a radical political agenda, the materialism and militarism of our society, of sexism and racism. Our consciousness was moving from changing the world to fit our beliefs to a thought given voice by Socrates: “If one seeks to change the world, he must begin by changing himself.” We were embarking on a journey of self-discovery. We were seeking spiritual and social clarification and a community that would be affirming to our new awareness.

The story you are about to read is our storyin its own way it is a uniquely American story; it epitomizes a turbulent time in our nation’s history. This is not a story that represents all myriad aspects of the colorful sixties and seventies. It is a slice of that history experienced by a young family that rode the crest of its wave of rebellion, change and possibility. It is an attempt to share, preserve, and bring into focus a vibrant snapshot of our adventurous family and its journey during those times.