What’s a Hippie Grandma?

I’d like your help here.

Who is a hippie? And will I be a hippie grandma?

My daughter, who’s getting married this year and plans to have children, says I’m a hippie. I don’t get it.I was at Berkeley in the ‘60s when hippies first appeared, I visited communes and wrote about them for Harper’s Magazine and I was not then nor am I now a hippie.

My daughter disagrees.

I tell her the key definition of hippies was: they dropped out of the mainstream. (Remember “Turn on, tune in, drop out?) They rejected capitalism, materialism and middle class values. They believed land should be free and people should live communally instead of pursuing individual ambition.

But I had ambition running through my veins. I went straight from Berkeley to Columbia to a job on the Boston Globe. When I was asked to write about hippies, I made my way to an “open land” commune where the leader welcomed me into his crude geodesic dome, saying, “It’s nice, for a change, to talk to someone who’s not a hippie.” He was the real thing and knew I wasn’t.

Hippies on open land, 1969

Yet when my article came out in Harper’s, I was interviewed on the radio by Howard Cosell, who said, “My guest, Sara Davidson, is a hippie.” Why did he say that? Because I had long straight hair and wore Indian-looking clothes and beaded jewelry. But long hair and beads did not a hippie make.

Sara in 1960s

When I explain this to my daughter, she’s not convinced. “That’s how your generation saw hippies” she says. “For my generation there’s a different definition.”

What would that be? I ask.

She says you’re a hippie if:
You lived through the 60s or 70s,
You did drugs and still do.
You like “hippie music” – The Beatles, Judy Collins, Bob Marley
You’re a spiritual seeker
You’re for peace, politically progressive
You eat organic food and recycle

I fit that bill.

It seems, though, that some core values have been lost and it’s the tastes and trappings that define hippie now –- like the Howard Cosell take.

But Peter Simon,* the gifted photographer who lived in a commune in Vermont and was proud to be a hippie, says the definition has always been “fluid. I never thought of you as a full-fledged hippie, but about 70% there. But who’s counting? There were various degrees of separation.” And various kinds of hippie.

This whole inquiry was triggered when a friend who’s a hippie by anyone’s definition became a grandmother. What, she wondered, kind of grandparent would she be, and what would her grand kids call her? Hippie-ma?

Many of us are having or wishing for grandkids now, and as with everything else in our life cycle, we’re going to do this differently.

Most people I know want to be involved hands-on. I envy the lucky ones who live in the same city as their grand kids and can pick them up from school and have them for sleepovers. I remember living downstairs from my grandparents in a duplex in L.A., and how much it meant to have my Grandpa Louie so close. Whenever I was in the dog house downstairs, I could run upstairs and he would hug me, dry my tears and tell me I was the most beautiful and talented little girl in the world.

For that propinquity, some of us are moving to where our grand kids live, but that’s not always feasible. My son lives in China and when he has kids, how will I know them? It’s a long way to go for a visit.

Some are taking desperate measures. I was shocked to learn that another friend, an elegant woman who’s a renowned speaker and citizen of the world, is shopping for an R.V. so she can visit her 7 grandchildren in 3 different states. She and her husband can drive from place to place, they won’t have to pay for hotels and can bring their dogs. Oy. “You’ll be joining the caravans of itinerant seniors at R.V. campgrounds?” I ask.

My friend smiles. “It beats moving, or constantly taking planes.”

So help us out. What is a hippie today? What kind of grandparent do you want to be and what would you like your grand kids to call you?

*Hippie Pix by Peter Simon: Courtesy of petersimon.com



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93 thoughts on “What’s a Hippie Grandma?

  1. Anonymous

    There were all kinds of hippies: weekend hippies, artist hippies,political hippies. But the main thing then was, you didn't work. Lou Gottlieb, a hippie leader, said, “That's why hippies are so creative. They don't work, and have time to dream and invent.”

  2. Katherine

    Just congratulations and best wishes to your beautiful daughter. Please make sure she knows I am thinking of her and wish her every happiness.

    Kathy McTaggart

  3. Anonymous

    Your young person's definition is actually and sadly more complex than most. For most of the younger generation, hippie just means you wear birkenstocks or the equivalent, loose clothing, certain kinds of jewelry and you like certain music… that's it. When I tell people that I hated the hippies at the time, that I was a radical, and that there was a total split between the hippies and the politicos in the sixties, it falls on deaf ears. The only thing remembered by most people about the sixties is the fashion… sigh.

  4. DrTom

    I'd say that being a “hippie” had more to do with a mindset and a world view. It was not just about clothes, music, drug usage and anti-materialism. It was more about an optimistic (maybe overly optimistic, bordering on naive) view that the world should be changed in a positive direction.
    Whether it was peace, equal rights, freedom of expression, freedom in general, hippies wanted to see the world move from the
    orientation of “me” (1950's) to
    “we” (1960's)

  5. Madgew

    I am a grammie and grammie M. I do recycle and ask my kids to do the same with their kids. We drive Prius'. One son and family live now in LA on my street. I love it. I am willing to have a regular babysitting gig because I have a life. I raised my kids and now they can do the same. When both sons and families lived in Chicago I flew out every 2 months for a five day total visit. Skype and phones work well to keep a relationship going. My grandkids all feel close to me and have since birth. I talked to them everyday when they were infants living out of state. They bonded and imprinted my voice from the moment I met them as they were born. I flew across country and made it on time to each birth and then stayed for a few weeks to help out. I love grammiehood best because I can always go home.

  6. Tim

    Having read your book, “Leap!” I would say you have hippie tendencies. Is it so bad to be labeled so? What if your daughter described you as “hip”? Would you be offended? I agree with Peter that the definition is fluid.

    Also, I visited Boulder last year with my wife for a family reunion. We loved it. And yes, there were Hippies everywhere…

  7. Steve Moler


    Because I have old photos of me with long hair and a beard standing in front of my 1969 VW camper, my teenagers think I was a hippie. I try to explain to them why I wasn't a hippie: Because I was way too mainstream to be a hippie. I held various mainstream jobs with mainstream employers. I went to mainstream colleges and universities. What I was in the late 1960s and the early 1970s was a “hippie sympathizer.” I admired what hippies were trying to accomplish, but I never wanted to be a hippie myself for the exact reasons you explain. I just wasn't willing to reject my own society. I wanted to work within the system to change it, not “check out.” Thanks for bringing up the topic.

    Steve Moler
    Alameda, Calif

  8. Lisa

    I'm 55 and grew up in Michigan (near Ann Arbor) in the 70's. Now I think the term “hippie” refers to anyone who was around in the 70's and went to college, maybe participated in the war protests, experimented with drugs(even if it was only “grass”) and listened to Dylan and Joni Mitchell, the Beatles and Stones, etc. But the hardcore hippies were the ones who “dropped out”, dropped acid, lived on communes, dodged the draft and protested the war, etc.

    So anyway, I've been married for 35 years, have a daughter, and now a grandson. We live in the same town as our daughter and her “boys”, husband and son. It's a great experience! We babysit a couple of times a week and see them often. Joshua, who just turned 2, absolutely loves coming to our house and we love having him. Natch! He's just starting to talk but he knows us as Grandma and Grandpa.

  9. Davo

    Yes Sara, you were/are a hippy. Once a hippy always a hippy (in your soul). It is a state of mind, a sense of knowing theres a better way and a willingness to find it–better yet, BE it. Many of us became the architects of the “new world”. The music, “hippie music”, was the aural emotional expression of that “better way”. Unfortunately the purity of that longing got lost along the way. Crosby, Stills and Nash nailed it with their timeless “Wasted On the Way”.

  10. Anonymous

    What was the opposite of “Hippie”? “Yuppy” (Young Urban Professional)? I think I was somewhere in between. Anyway, I'll be 60 in November, and my two grandsons, ages 13 and 16, think I'm pretty damn cool. They're not “mama's boys” by any means, but they really do enjoy going to the movies with their Mom and me.

    And congrats to you and your daughter, Sara!! 😉

  11. Beauregard

    I'll be a SWM66 this summer.
    I have two children, no grandchildren and await that transformational moment I hear about. Generally, I like children and animals in small disposable doses.
    In 2006 I moved 2500 miles from East Coast to West to live with a woman I fell in love with.
    During that time she added two grandchildren for a total of three.
    Both her children live close by. When she said, after two and half years together, “We need to talk,” she expressed that she did not have enough emotional space for her children, grandchildren and me.
    Who knows the truth of this kind of thing, but I think it was really an issue.
    Many women on dating sites label themselves as “Grammie” or “DavidsGammie” or some other sobriquet relating to grandchildren.
    I have learned to avoid them because their life is child focused and adding a man to that equation is not easy. Children and dogs are easy and you don't have to compromise much to have them in your life compared to an equal partner.
    The women I have met like this think they want a man, but they don't want much of one and don't have much time or energy or emotion for one. When they get one, they struggle with the additional load and sometimes the man looses.
    It's tough enough to find acceptance and merge into an existing family without feeling the competition of little kids.
    I enjoyed the three children and the joy of the two new ones. When the woman I thought was “the one” unloved me, it multiplied the heartbreak.
    So for this aging hippie (well, pin-stripped, sober child of the 60s), grandchildren are an additional computation in the quest to find a mate.

  12. Eliana

    My kids refer to me as “an old hippie” also, though the truth is I was too busy working and raising them to be what I would actually think of as a hippie. My grandkids just think I'm well, weird, because I do speak about liberal, progressive ideas, I am spiritual, and I eat strange food.

    It is my hope that I will be able to connect with my grandchildren in a deeper, meaningful way than my elders did. So if I talk about things that they think are weird, so be it.

    They call me “G-ma”


  13. Eliana

    My kids refer to me as “an old hippie” also, though the truth is I was too busy working and raising them to be what I would actually think of as a hippie. My grandkids just think I'm well, weird, because I do speak about liberal, progressive ideas, I am spiritual, and I eat strange food.

    It is my hope that I will be able to connect with my grandchildren in a deeper, meaningful way than my elders did. So if I talk about things that they think are weird, so be it.

    They call me “G-ma”


  14. Boulder, Colorado

    We defined ourselves largely by the sentiments expressed in the musical explosion of the late 60s and early 70s. We felt that free love, equality and mind-expansion were antidotes to war and materialism. Naive, for sure. Still, compared to the rampant war-mongerers and misogynistic racists of the day, one could give us some credit for better awareness than the mainstream. I am 57 now. I and my peers did not actually call ourselves “hippies.” We called ourselves “freaks.” We held many of the same values as our “hippie” brethren, but tried to keep a low profile after Kent State. We wore clothes to blend in and hid our long hair for everyday dealings (it is difficult to convey what a provocation our long hair was at the time). We reserved our “freak flags” for protests.

  15. Linda

    Except for the drug part, I fit the definition of hippie you include here. I write a column about alternative medicine, though, so that fits that category in a sort of oblique way.

    As for the grandkids, I visit when it is convenient for all of us. I think family proximity issues can be a process rather than a decision. I don't see moving or not moving as some sort of deal-breaker, because with family there are no deal-breakers.


  16. Tina

    I have a picture on my frig of my husband and me early in our marriage, about 1973. I have an afro and Dennis has long hair and a leather vest. It was about the clothes but so much more. My kids have always said they have hippie parents. Vegetarians (one son was sooo afraid we would have tofu when he invited his friends over), recyclers forever (we have ALWAYS taken our own bags to the grocery store), etc. Yes, we went to war protests and for the last 8 years have lead a small peace circle which is focused on “inner peace” radiating out into the world, not protests. I have never considered myself a hippie but would fit your daughter's definition, except the drug part.

    Okay, about the grandma part. One son and his fiance just bought a house 8 blocks from us. They want children. HOORAY! I can't wait to be a grandma. They will hear stories of the goddess and probably think I am “out there.” What will I be called? Don't know but am sure that will evolve. Congratulations to you and your family!

  17. Anonymous

    Your daughter's comments hit the nail on the head. What's so wrong being labeled a hippie? I'd suggest that the authentic hippies of yesterday are still hippies today, maybe not in dress or actions, but in their core values. They could be millionaires, but you will still find a hippie inside.

  18. Debra

    As an aspiring elementary school librarian, I must mention the author Reeve Lindbergh's children's book “My Hippie Grandmother:”


    I recall smiling when I read this picture book because I never thought I'd live to see the day when “hippie” and “grandmother” would be placed side by side on a page!

    As for me, I'm 47 — too young to have been a hippie. I was 6 years old when Woodstock happened: an ACTUAL child of the 60s.

    Apparently the word “hippie” has evolved over the generations. Some may argue that “feminist” has as well.

  19. Barbara H.

    I've been a hippie since the '60s and I'm proud of it. I'm also a crafty, spiritual, feminist grandmother with tattoos and piercings, following my favorite jam bands around the West. I never stopped working for a better world, and although my idealism has been tampered by a bit of cynicsim, it's still there. Hippie ethos is evident today in the trends toward being Green, including foods. I have never believed “hippie” to be a bad word. Peace and love never go out of fashion, and I'm happy to be still waving my freak flag.


    I never thought of myself as a hippie but after reading everyone's thoughts I maybe. I grew up in the 70's had logn straight hair smoked a little hitch hiked. Got married at 20 had 3 boys opened a flower shop was self employed for 30 years. Moved back to the ranch to raise cows and veggies. I was blessed to become a grandma called grammy at an early age she is now 6 my son has had custody of her since she was 6 months old so I have been a strong influence in her life at 4 her mommy came into her life and has been a blessing she now has a 4 month old sister and they moved to our rural community so mom can stay home and they can go to a small school and I get to be a consistent part of their life I am blessed. Being a 50 year old hippie grammy is great!!!!

  21. Nettie

    I am a hippie…always was even as a child and remain so today. Defining who I am when i say hippie might not flow as easily as I would like to share but here goes. I am open minded; welcoming connection far more than being right. I speak out and up for what makes my heart sing and ache. I have been true to most of the community values I was raised with and continue to put my passion where my politics are; front and to the left of any rigid tight assed person living in gimme gimme with no concern of the WHOLE. Give me the WHOLE of anything..Behind the hell no we won't go and all we are saying is a a deep spiritual sense of brotherhood, sisterhood, and humanhood. AND as a grandmother I am the one who teaches kids to plant food, see the moon, and to not be afraid of not being right.. So often hippies ar thought of in terms of drugs and sex yet for me the values of those days live in my local food COOP, the community food bank, the women at the seder table speaking of freedom, and my continued quest for the right to be heard.

    This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.
    Rainer Maria Rilke

  22. Oliver

    Sara, there is no way you are a hippie. Hippies did not eat at Pete's in Boston when I ate there in 1968, nor do they live on Mapleton Ave in Boulder, and I could add 50 other places you've described where you 've liked to “hang out”. I've read Loose Change, Cowboy and Leap! and nothing about you seems hippie. You certainly observed hippies, and described a wide range of living styles, but you seem much too centered in conventional urban living to be a hippie. I cannot imagine how your daughter could think you are a hippie – the criteria she gave would cover 90% of Boulder.

  23. Sally

    I have 11 grandkids and I am called, Nanny, Granma Sally, Grandmother, Each child as babies made up their names for me..thats what is fun,,I love all of the names.
    It will be “Fun” for you to see what your Grandchildren call you too.
    Are u a Hippie? Could be..We are labeled as others see us…:0)

  24. Dr. Barbra

    I have certainly been a hippie Grandma for almost 26 years now;and ,by your definition, I am a 70%er.

    The poem about wearing a purple hat when I grow old is backwards for me. I always wore a purple hat, now I'm into beiges and classic clothing. Every now and then though…….

    My grandchildren love my Hippieness and my children are still embarrassed even though they are old enough to have got over it. They grew up in a small town where her parents were “weird' and then when They grew up, we moved to W.est Hollyweird where we are very run-of the-mill, which is fun in a whole different way.

    Any questions?

  25. Anonymous

    From my 70 year old perspective as a single mom and loving grandma of a 14 year old and having taught school and worked in a restaurant in Bolinas CA in those wonderful 70s, I think its too sad young people today don't realize the huge and much needed changes in society that the hippies and the Berkley radicals engendered in the USA in the 70s.I didn't consider myself a hippie but had my eyes opened by living within a community where creative change was possible. Brenda McManus San Francisco

  26. Barbara Stern

    Call me whatever you want. Hippie, Granola or Peace activist. Didn't Shakespeare write, “What's in a name, a rose would smell so sweet?” or something like that?
    I am Nana and my oldest child is not embarrassed by me and she wishes she were there with me. My youngest is curious about those days and not judgmental. I wonder if your daughter wishes her generation had a “name” besides a Y,X or whatever. Howard Cosell was just trying to make headlines and sense out of the changes we were making. Could a “name” ease the fear that someone different may create?

  27. Penny

    I also have a daughter soon to be 18—and she falls somewhere between fascination and
    disdain for the hippie part of her geneaology.

    Thanks for the question,,,

    PS i wrote an article awhile back for a local women's spirituality magazine and spoke of the Hippie movement as
    a spirituality, ecology, civil rights and food movement. It was an inspiration whose core values I see very much
    played out in the sustainability movement today.

  28. Tom

    Ive known you almost 40 years. You totally have the hippie consciousness…….as do I. And yet, we remain ambitious. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.

  29. Anonymous

    I am a college professor–some of my students were recently discussing what is a hippie–the consensus was this: long hair, doesn't bathe often, expresses self through outlandish or old out of date clothes or seems to have no regard for fashion trends.. smokes pot and does other drugs, doesn't have a “steady” job, “out of it”–could be young (a neo-hippie) or an original OLD hippie…..
    Hippie has become a stigmatized, almost pejorative term…the current defamation of hippie-dom is truly hurtful to me, who lived in an intentional community with my partner and children, in the Missouri wood, and was honored to know -including in the biblical sense–many fine human being hippies. More later–I must go facilitate a class.

  30. Pat RN

    I agree with Dr. Tom, that it is more a state of mind. I don't consider myself a hippie, but I do believe in social justice. I have done more than a few humanitarian trips overseas and sometimes worried that I was not close enough to my son, step-daughters and grandkids. I was very happy when my son volunteered to go along with me on my last trip to Cameroon, and my 7-year-old grandaughter (my step-daughter's child) referred to me as a “cool Grandma.” I must be doing something right and am glad my values have been absorbed by them.

  31. Olivia

    Sara, I think you were a sometime hippie (in attraction, not action). I too, felt like I was a part time hippie, but couldn't commit. Young people think anyone who was close to a counterculture or embraced some aspect of it, was a hippie.
    Now, at fifty three I say, maybe I was, maybe I wasn't. Must keep the mystique alive.

  32. Roz

    Hi Sara, I have 3 grandchildren, 2 girls 13 & 10 who live and were raised in Toronto and one boy 15 months who lives near me in Burbank. The girls I see maybe once a year now, though I took them to Europe this last summer and spent Christmas with my both boys, their girlfriends and 3 grandchildren in the Bahamas. It was the first time in years we were all together. I am a real grandmother to the little boy who calls me grandma and a pocketbook grandma to the girls.

  33. MH

    Hi Sara: I've been a big fan for a long time! I used to say that I was a “materialistic hippie”. Which meant that I had a car…sure, it was an old VW but I had one. I joined the corporate mainstream right after graduation but was always kind of pleased if I was considered by some to be a hippie. I liked to play the part but what I really got from it was something spiritual. I saw a lot of sunrises, sunsets, great concerts that people still talk about today. I justed turned 60 and have a 3 yr. old grandson and a 1 year old granddaughter and I'm in love! I hope to teach them that people count, kindness is the best quality and to do what you love. Melanie

  34. Melanie Robbins

    I went to Pacific High School, an alternative, student-run school in California (http://pacifichighschool.net/) and therefore qualify as areal hippie in my mind—and the minds of many others, PHS was fondly known as “Hippie High”—but I did not live communally and I believed in capitalism. It's OK by me if my kids and potential grandkids call me a hippie. I distinctly remember having a conversation with my dad with I was about 14 or 15 and saying the words out loud, “I am a hippie.” — Melanie

  35. injaynesworld

    So while you were in Berkeley, I was across the bay in San Francisco having an abundance of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. However, I was not a hippie. Try as I might, I could just never bring myself to give up my mascara. I was then, and will forever be a bleeding-heart liberal though. I still think there's no better music than Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company and for those LSD-filled nights, bring on the Moody Blues. I have a God-daughter who has a son and he calls me “Nana-Jayne.” He's only three now, but someday I hope to be a bad influence on him. 😉

  36. Anonymous

    A Hippie? Well I was raised in Southern California went to school there and spent my single years in Santa Monica, through the 60's. I quess I dressed like one and had the make love not war type of mentality but I was a capitalist and party girl. I'm a grandmother and love it. I'm fortunate enough to have my grandkids living an hour away. My granddaughter loves my love of horses and we ride and show together, my grandson goes to the UofA and we lunch together regularily. Its to wonderful for words, the 60's for me was a real selfish period I was not the mother I should have been, I was busy trying to be successful, but I've made up for it by being a loving attentive grandma. Gosh, did I go on. But I can understand wanting to be near the kids, its what life is about as I am in my senior years. ddp

  37. Charles Steinberg

    The key question is did you burn your bra (or your draft card)?

    Our kids tell us they are happy their parents were hippies. And we, like you, didn't drop out.

  38. Anonymous

    I am 66 only tried pot a few times but I think I'm becoming more of a hippie than I used to be. I recycle, have a vegetable garden, try to conserve energy and appreciate the wisdom that comes from having lived in this era. My magnificent granddaughters call me Gammie and I melt when I hear that word. They are now 8 and 9 and they sing and dance to Bye Bye Birdie and Rock Around the Clock. They love the Beatles and even catch the meaning of kum-bay-a. Life is good.

  39. Alex Steinberg

    It is clear to me that I am a hippie and always will be.
    Like Sara I was at Berkeley in the 60s, a war protester,
    long haired college girl experimenting with life and rejecting the norms of my parents generation. I love the beatles and Joan Baez, and have never waivered from the left. For me I turned being a hippie into being an activist. I used to tell my daughter when she was young that she should thank her lucky stars that her mother was a hippie. I idenitfy that with a sense of freedom to experiment with life, to follow the muse, to put down responsibility and explore. Simple living, return to the land, joining in community, dressing however one likes.
    Now I have a grandson. He calls me Jajja! And I love to hang out laying in the grass watching ants and clouds, telling him stories of heros and hippies.

  40. David

    What a neat topic. (You could write a whole 'nother column on what it means if you still use the word “neat” !)
    My take on this is similar to the adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. If your daughter sees you as a hippie, than to her you ARE one. I agree with Mr. Simon that the meaning of the word has changed with time and perspective. As for Mr. Cosell's comments, well, I chalk that up to the kind of person he was. Consider the source, eh?
    I haven't given much thought to what kind of grandparent I might be, if and when that happens. My son is in Iraq for his second tour, and will re-join his wife here in the Pacific Northwest next fall. They plan to have children; they just need some uninterrupted domestic time, (if you know what I mean!) My daughter and her boyfriend are busy being young 20-somethings and she hasn't mentioned anything to me about children yet.
    What kind of grandparent? I figure I'll just be the person I am. With a little tongue in cheek, I ask ” what kid never liked their grandpa?”. My grandkids will like me whatever kind of grandparent I am! And they can call me anything they want as long as it isn't profane or disrespectful. And as long as they call me to dinner.
    Thanks, Sara, for another fun episode from your life! Can't wait to hear how your grandparenting evolves. Keep us posted!

  41. David

    What a neat topic. (You could write a whole 'nother column on what it means if you still use the word “neat” !)
    My take on this is similar to the adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. If your daughter sees you as a hippie, than to her you ARE one. I agree with Mr. Simon that the meaning of the word has changed with time and perspective. As for Mr. Cosell's comments, well, I chalk that up to the kind of person he was. Consider the source, eh?
    I haven't given much thought to what kind of grandparent I might be, if and when that happens. My son is in Iraq for his second tour, and will re-join his wife here in the Pacific Northwest next fall. They plan to have children; they just need some uninterrupted domestic time, (if you know what I mean!) My daughter and her boyfriend are busy being young 20-somethings and she hasn't mentioned anything to me about children yet.
    What kind of grandparent? I figure I'll just be the person I am. With a little tongue in cheek, I ask ” what kid never liked their grandpa?”. My grandkids will like me whatever kind of grandparent I am! And they can call me anything they want as long as it isn't profane or disrespectful. And as long as they call me to dinner.
    Thanks, Sara, for another fun episode from your life! Can't wait to hear how your grandparenting evolves. Keep us posted!

  42. Sheila

    OK so I am already a Grandma. I am the kind of Grandma who attends all school plays and team sporting events. I am the kind of Grandma who had a yard of topsoil delivered to her garden, bought two miniature treasure chests, one for each grandchild, and filled them and buried them often in the dirt so they could dig for buried treasure. I am the kind of Grandma who read the classic children's book The Carrot Seed to the grandkids, over and over, bought carrot seeds and planted them in a big pot. Years and years we grew carrots together. I am the kind of Grandma that bought rhubarb plants for her garden because even though I don't like rubbarb, they do. I am the kind of grandma that still likes clothes that match and polished shoes on children. I am the kind of Grandma that dreads when my grandson starts to smell after exercise, not because of body odor, but because it will mean he probably won't want to hug me in public anymore. I dread the time my granddaughter will prefer to do her own hair instead of letting me do braids, pig tails, little girl updos and all the hairstyles that I love on her. I am the kind of Grandma that is thrilled I am almost at the point that I don't understand their math because it means they are way smarter than I am or ever was. I am the kind of grandma that can't believe the vocabulary words that they use just as I am coming into the age when I occasionally can no longer remember the exact perfect word to describe something. I am the kind of Grandma who goes on ski weekends with her grandkids even though I don't ski. In short I am a typical Grandma and will do just about anything to spend time with my grandkids.

  43. Folkmuse

    I am 68 years old, have been called a hippie at times in my life but never considered myself one.

    I felt I was more bohemian, more beatnik than hippie. I recall going into San Francisco with some young friends, dressed in black, consuming the drug of our choice, strong black espresso, in the late 50's and listening to bad poetry thinking we were cool.

    I was quite active in my opposition to the war in Vietnam as a draft consular as well as a speaker to various community groups. I was interviewed in news papers and on the radio regarding my opposition to the war. I was not a conscientious objector, only opposed to the current war I would say. I was found to be in demand as I was not a “radical”, but had a “reasonable argument” for why we are in the wrong regarding the war.

    This was where I came to be labeled as “hippie”. But, hippies were optimistic. I was as well but with the strong cynicism streak that I used to attribute to that bohemian side. I never bought into that Peace and Love would change it all.

    It was a good thing but then I was working in the corporate world and raising a family at that time and unlike so many of those I knew who lived that “hippie' life style saw so much of the other side. I did have long hair, down well past my shoulders and that of course labeled me as “hippie”.

    Although I love the optimism of that era, the gentleness of the people, the innocent childish belief in the future and the openness of those that were immersed in the hippie culture, I with one foot in that corporate world knew it couldn't last.

    I was transferred by my company to the Sierra Foothill where one could say I “homesteaded” with my family. I built a home I still live in, which up until a decade ago I heated with wood that I cut in the National Forest, raised my two daughters and later three step children.

    Last night I was at a retirement party for someone who used to work for me. I still heard that, “yes, he was that hippie who came from the Bay Area.”

    Yes I was different, but different also from the “hippies, but they would never know the difference. I just smiled at the small world these people came from. I gave up years ago explaining the difference and indeed they have been friends for years, but couldn't fathom what that Hippie philosophy was truly about, nor why I was different from them as well as that “hippie” philosophy. I might have been visiting in their world but I was never a “true hippie”.

    I might have shared many of their hopes and dreams, but I was far to much of the pragmatist, realist and with that cynicism to be a true hippie.

    That time of touching bases with those “hippies” left a lasting impression on me, it influenced much of my life. Over the years because of their influence, coupled as well as that of some of my teachers from high school, I began to work for community organizations.

    Once I retired that experience moved my wife and I to start a couple of non-profits geared to building community through music.

    But, the question is regarding grandchildren and if we are “hippies”. Interesting enough, none of the six grandchildren we have between us think of us as hippies. As each of our children have successful lives which are steeped in the arts, they look at us as their grandparents with the wonderful huge yard in the forest who occasionally take them to music and art events.

    I think they think of us as cultured ranchers, not hippies.

    And what am I now, I am a cynical optimist, a realistic romantic and a pragmatic dreamer who has learned from both the corporate world as well as those wonderful hippies.

  44. Anonymous

    You should reprise your book about those 3 women you knew in 60s Berkeley, to cover this issue.

    My kids refer to me as a hippie because that's what the media tells them. The history of the 60s has been rewritten to make people who were there forget. So you can't expect people who were never there to have a chance to know the truth.

    Go see “Sir! No,sir!”. It covers how the “forget machine” of the media works. It doesn't cover how the 2 parties lie. That's another movie.

    -UC Berkeley Alum, class of 1968

  45. Linda

    Hippie, to those under 40, is anyone who was invested in making a difference in the world. I was at Berkeley in the late 60's (just missed you, I think) and my kids will always think I was a hippie. The hippies I knew did not work, lived with 10+ others (because no one EVER wanted to live with parents), rarely bathed, shared food and many other things. They determined who would call home each month and threaten to move back. Then, they picked up money at Western Union the next day. I gave flowers at the airport but I also worked at Bank of America during the week, which was a very disreputable necessity. Some of the first pictures of my children were d two strollers, two children with signs on their strollers as I led a demonstration. Sara, you are still invested in making a difference, bringing a story to life that may bring some positive change to the world. For that, you will forever be labeled a hippie, and that’s okay. My children learned very early in life that they were required to do only one thing: When they walked through my door, as adults, they needed to be doing something that makes a difference in this world; however they see that to be. Both are very dedicated to the “cause human” and call themselves world citizens, with all the responsibilities and connectedness that comes with that identity.

    My son and I visited China a few years ago and he was unusually nervous on the plane from Seoul. I was telling him that Tiananmen, in Chinese, means “Gate of Heavenly Peace” and thought that was interesting, given the bloody history. He was becoming increasingly nervous and suddenly grabbed my shoulders. “Mom, please promise me that you won't yell “Peace to the People” in the middle of Tiananmen Square. I just don't want to get arrested in Beijing!” I was completely shocked, as the thought never crossed my mind. To him, it was something that I just might do. He knew of my multiple “arrests” during sit-in protests and chainiing myself to the capitol when a history professor was fired for talking about communism in class long before he was born. Poor guy, he could not forget that image! I did spent 4 life-changing days with HH the 14th Dalai Lama when I turned 50 and celebrated my 60th birthday at a week-long silent retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh. Going deeper and wider are touchpoints for me..

    I have a 5 year old grandson who calls me “Oma” (I don't allow the “G” word). Right now, I rent out my place and live with my daughter and grandson while she finishes residency and it is the greatest gift my daughter could give me. I spend almost every day with him and am completely present in his life. I don't worry about what he should be learning, saying, doing. I just mirror his joy, his “living totally in the moment”, and his inhibitions. We can watch the water flow down the gutter for hours, throw in a leaf and run madly to keep up until it disappears down the drain. We dress up in the most outlandish outfits and I learned to face paint so I could make us whatever we want to be. We wander around costume shops and used clothing stores looking for things to use for dragons and dinosaur stories. We sing in the grocery store, jump over cracks in the sidewalk, lie in the grass and make up incredible stories about cloud worlds. We sing Christmas songs in July. We collect tons of rocks and go into pet stores just to hold the turtles. We have been to symphonies and theatres since his birth and his loves Pachelbel and Rossini. He knows all the 60's songs by heart, his favorite is “Imagine”. He knows about Nobel Peace Prize winners and what peace means. He will tell you he is a world citizen. He stayed up to watch the final results of the Presidential election and hugged me while I cried. He also tells me “what goes around, comes around, Oma” if I get frustrated and yell at another driver on the freeway.

    Grandchildren are the ultimate gift….enjoy every moment.

  46. Anonymous

    It is fascinating to notice that the biggest sociological “establishment” essentially goes unmentioned by almost everyone here: FAMILY. Though many “hippies” liked to think of themselves as outsiders, at the core they were establishment all the way…family, house, kids…and now grandkids.

    With each passing day, those of us who had no children and will have not grandchildren are the real outsiders…and there are a lot of us: Those who remained single, the couples who decided not to have kids, the gay and lesbian people who made no effort to arrange by various available means to have children.

    The aging childless are the radicals, misplaced in a nation that worships at the alter of procreation, No politician from either party speaks to the childless, the family-less. The culture is about the motherland and now the grandmotherland. The real “freaks” are those who did not follow the family path.


  47. crapshootdater

    I've been a grandmother (“nana”) since I was 44. Now I have 4 grandchildren, one who is 16-years old and is living with me now for a while.

    Although I don't think of myself as a hippie (got married young and have been traditional most of younger life), my grandchildren definitely think I'm “weird” or at the least non-traditional (I live in Boulder, of course). I've actually become more “hippie-like” as I've grown older. But I like that I can teach my grandchildren different values than they may get from their parents.

    Although I have lived away from my grandkids for the last 9 years, I have found ways to stay in touch, and have taken two of my grandchildren on a one-on-one trip of their choice with me when they reached 13. Those were definitely memory-making moments that none of us will ever forget. Hope to get to do this with the last two.

    I'm not your sitting-on-the-porch-rocker type of grandmother, or even the regular-babysitter grandmother, but I make our moments count with special memories.

    Grandmothering is so much fun, Sara. You'll love it! Congrats!

  48. bigpurplemachine

    Dear Sara, It's nice to hear from you agin. I was at Cal from 1961-1967, in a fraternity down the street from the AEPhi house. I started smoking pot with my fraternity brothers in 1966, and I tried a number of straight jobs after college, including working for the Xerox Corporation and teaching high school. By 1970, I was living in a commune outside of Eugene, Oregon with a bunch of people who jokingly called themselves “drug-crazed hippies.” Somewhere, even as a kid, I knew that I didn't want to be stuck in an office, and, hopefully, I would find something fun and creative to do. At 66, I'm happy to report that things have worked out pretty well, and I am still married and in love with the same woman after 35 years. That doesn't mean that life is not filled with challenges; it is.

    So, what is being a hippie about? Maybe it's about having the freedom to pursue your own manifest destiny coupled with the desire to do what we can, in our own small way, to make the world a better place. Best wishes & Aloha, Bob

  49. Phil Polizatto

    A most interesting article! I am an unapologetic hippie. I believe your daughter's criteria for what makes a hippie is mostly correct.

    I spent 11 years writing a book, Hunga Dunga, which I believe accurately captures in detail what a “good” hippie was all about.

    We were trying to live differently. We were explorers and experimenters. We had a taste (albeit through psychedelics)of the experience of “god” and the connectedness of all beings. This experience was just that, an experience, not some

    Once you have had a real experience of the connectedness of all beings, your worldview changes. Your worldview demands that you live in accordance to it. And when we hear the slogan “think globally, act locally” a true hippie know that “locally” not only means your community, but first and foremost, your SELF.

    If one can rid themselves of greed, intolerance, social and economic injustice, respect for the earth, jealousy, violence and war, then one has acted very “locally”

    That resulted in living in different ways trying to actualize what we believed. And we hoped if we were successful, others would model us, and soon, everyone would come to their senses.

    Unfortunately, Madison Ave and the media co-opted our movement and made it into sitcoms and stereotypes. Many hippies re-entered the establishment, perhaps keeping in remission those values, until such time as society was more willing to adopt them.

    I believe now is the time. If society had adopted and lived by those hippie values, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.

    HUNGA DUNGA is an epic story of one young man who tries to vindicate the hippie movement and to validate its values. I was tired of the disparaging way we were/are portrayed, especially at a time when we are all being called upon to think peace, be environmentalists, end corporate greed, etc.

    HUNGA DUNGA screams out, “We told you so 45 years ago! What is taking you so long to catch up!

    Please take the time to visit http://hungadunga.wordpress.com/ or http://www.hungadunga.org.

    It's a trip!

    Peace and love to all beings,
    Phil Polizatto

  50. tevans02

    I guess that I found out that I was a “hippie” was when my son came home from high school and was proud to contribute to a discussion about the 60's that his “mom” had been tear gassed at a protest. The teacher, he said, was VERY impressed.
    Wow…but you know, some of us during that time were deeply affected by the culture – I reject routine, I seek out challenges, and I won't give up on the idea that we all have a connection.
    Wear it with PRIDE Sara!

  51. Jane

    This story is timely. I have recently joined a group of concerned citizens to sustain our land and our economy. It has been my life's passion, and five or seven years ago after working in that field for eons, I retired –burnt out and discouraged by the generation of high disposable incomes and minamal concern for the earth, global warming, etc. etc.

    Then a few months ago, I began to meet with like minded folks of my generation, and that opened me to the younger generation of 30 year olds who grew up with parents like you and me, and already have in their DNA a desire to do what they can to turn around the trend of destroying our earth. They tell of their parents who burned their bras and lay down before tractors and thought, “There must be another way to do this.”

    This group of young people are not into confrontation but into collaboration and creating a better economy. And, they have the technology to do so. It is so stimulating and exciting. Sooo, thank you all you “hippies” for creating the space of this next generation to lead the way of creating a sustainable future!

  52. shroudwoman

    In Los Angeles in 1966 when i was in 11th grade i listened to Timothy Leary on KPFA radio and he made alot of sense. My parents were alcoholically drinking WW2 racists and every boy I knew was being shipped off to Viet Nam to kill the citizens of a Buddhist country for something no one understood.It was that or go underground.
    I dropped out to survive. I grew my hair because as a teen age runaway it was cheaper. I made my own clothes influenced by other cultures or bought 1920's clothes in thrift stores because to me they were prettier .I went to live in communes “off the grid” with other like minded really smart people because my 24 yr. old husband was being hunted by the FBI for draft evasion.
    I had my children at home in the bedroom because i didn't want to have my children without my husband being able to attend in a place full of disease (and it was cheaper).
    “Hippy” was a word coined by Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle in 1966 describing all the new high school drop outs invading San Francisco daily. A term meaning you were younger than a “Beatnik”. I always considered myself a beatnik and still do.
    Being a young person surviving the 60's was treacherous and my kids grew up much more conservative and did not get addicted to drugs or alcohol because they saw the ravages of that growing up.
    My precious grandson has been my favorite person to hang out with since he was born. He gets the benefit of all my wisdom and experience (like it or not).
    I am a survivor because i have to be. I dropped out so far I couldn't get back in.
    I try very hard to live my values without being stupid and redundant by helping in service to others as a Bodhisattva while continuing to cut the edge and be invisible.
    The late 60's were the closest thing to a citizen led revolution this country has ever seen and it scared the shit out of corporate America.Madison Avenue wasted no time through TV commercials and marketing campaigns to reduce “Hippies” to drug crazed idiotic cartoons in stupid clothes you could now buy in Dept. stores and potsmoke as opposed to the courageous, disowned inventive visionaries the 1st “Hippies” actually were.
    The one thing the 1st Hippies did was throw the baby out with the bath water in creating a new authentic environmentally respectful, spiritually based, peaceful world.
    We completely lost pure (non- religious specific ) moral discipline and the aftermath of that killed off alot of great people and paved the way for the new Republican Party led by Ronald Reagan.Just look at them now.

  53. Toby

    It was so good to get this from you, and so spoke to me and all of us
    leftovers The pictures of you and the “real” hippies were so touching,
    so innocent and vulnerable, so emblematic of those times when when,
    whatever we were, the air was full of righteous anger and hope. There
    will never be another time like that, which I think is the true
    meaning of those years, regardless of what we called ourselves then,
    or what others call us now. Your daughter is right to see you as a
    hippie, simply by virtue of the fact that you were there and WITH what
    was going on–even as an observer, you belonged to the world that was
    spinning around you, and what it held–but she doesn't have any idea
    of the experience, which could never be summed up by a word. Like the
    civil-rights movement, when I think of that period in our history, I
    feel a sadness that goes far beyond nostalgia, and I grieve for us
    all, for our naivete, perhaps even our foolishness, and above all our
    purity–I grieve for what was, and for its loss.

  54. Teacher Judy, the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center Director

    I guess all labels come up short in defining people. I've never considered myself a hippie though I've been described that way by others, including my children. I'd rather refer to myself as a “cultural creative” which is more open-ended and does not suggest drug-use, hairy legs and loose dresses. But if they call me a hippie because I care about ideals and people and the environment, then so be it.

  55. BEVKAI

    I am ten years older than “hippies, and Sara, but the protest movement changed my life in ways that still are in effect today. And the Old Me was much preferred by family to the New, to the point of punishment.

    My whole family is very-high-functioning alcoholic; “maintenance drinkers”,irrational in family life, successful on the surface.

    I didn't want that for my children, so warned them. .

    My daughters haven't had me in their homes for over 20 years. They won't tell me why. One daughter sent photos as her two children grew up, but they are on their own now. My only contact is because I sent gifts at the right times, and so rated “thank-you” notes.

    My oldest daughter kept the existence of her children from me. When they were aged ten, my former husband's widow told me about them. My daughter only said, 'I thought you would manipulate me through them.”
    You can't imagine my hurt.

    I wore the fashions of the late Sixties when my girls were pre-teen.– but my kids grew up in Louisiana with their dad. I wasn't well enough to care for them properly. Fibromyalgia was unknown. And it made me unable to tolerate much alcohol. I made a new life.

    I cannot convey the hurt. My grandchildren wouldn't know me on the street.

    In those years:- – Martin Luther King taught me I could say “no” to unreasonable demands. I saw myself becoming THE Mrs Robinson of song and story if I didn't change my life.

    My Air Force husband,stationed in Saigon, told me the truth about official government statements regarding Viet war operations.. Our friends in the fighter squadrons were dying over Hanoi–and with all the lies, propaganda and internal spying coming to light, I think it was all those deaths, leaving my girlfriends as 26-year-old widows, that turned my mind from conventional patriotism.

    My family saw me as a rebel,influenced by the times.

    I think my daughters' families don't want my controversial presence. When I did visit, I wore sarongs tied around my chest while my opposite numbers, the other mothers-in-law, looked like Angela Lansbury. Their culture is “east of the Rockies, Middle America”. Mine is, “When will the ocean be warm enough to body surf??”

    Returning to school at San Jose and Berkeley I felt like an anthropologist, taking on the colors of the tribe. Sandals and fringe

    I was becoming myself- – alarming my “executive drinker” family even more. My angry dad tore the flower decals off my car.

    I moved to Oahu 25 years ago and have lived happily ever after, in my Birkenstocks.

    The unexplained rigidity in my daughters families is a mystery to me. My son had come to live with me in Berkeley, and found his bliss there. His hostel-ski-lodge outside Denver was described recently in the guidebooks as having “that Hippie Vibe, San Francisco circa 1976.” Jerry Garcia is his hero.

    I fear becoming a bitter old woman, blaming others for my situation. But then, no one has ever had to get me out of jail. I have never had a DUI arrest. I graduated with Honors, and ultimately studied nursing. I have seen my children arrested-= – and one even showed up in traffic court with a high blood alcohol content…. unable to function without it. My objection to intoxication is very far from moral or religious. It is health and sanity = =and perhaps my children fear what I will see and what I will think.

    As if it matters.

    I think that protesting evil is perfectly okay, even if you are labeled a rebel. I knew that there would be repercussions, but had no idea they would be so severe. I haven't seen my son since 1975, and we used to smoke the occasional joint together…..

    I am almost well enough to take up paddleboarding.

    I owe the hippies a lot — for their insistence on expanding awareness.
    Love and Aloha

    Bev in Honolulu

  56. rick the celestial cowboy poet

    dear sara,

    gawd, you were a hot-looking hippie back in those days. nice photo. even if i were a conservative businessman in a three-piece suit, i would have chucked the suit into a trash can and joined you in a hot tub with wine and a doobie wherever you led me.
    your question on what defines a hippie is intriguing. i guess i could call myself a hippie who loves free enterprise — and money. or maybe there is another name for a person who thinks that way. to me a true hippie is one who refuses to accept the status quo, who challenges the establishment to do better, and who wants to get rid of about 20 per cent of the newly hired police officers in america before the united states turns into a Police State. a true hippie is a freedom seeker, who defends freedom on all fronts. the freedom that police and the justice system strip away from somebody else can be used against you. i am heading for new mexico , by the way, and taking a reporting job on a great little daily newspaper not far from carlsbad caverns. i will be writing about the drug cartels, the border wars, ranchers, artists, outlaw caves, gambling, lifestyles, the caverns and much more — a true hippie in action. hope some day you'll drop by and pay me a visit. p.s. wear that dress and those indian beads.

  57. Jennie

    I have to say that I still consider myself a Hippie! Just more discreet!

    Do take offense at the assumption that to be a Hippie one had to have done drugs.

    Just remember the Hippie Chicks selling carnations (that actually had a fragrence!) on the street corners for a quarter. That visual is a Hippie to me.


  58. procor

    The “hippies” I know today all have some combination of the traits your daughter listed, but maybe not all of them. What they do have in common is a concern for the larger world, a tendency to volunteer for social causes, a tendency to monetarily support social causes, a love for music and art of various kinds,and a sense of community and concern for the individuals in it. I am a grandmother and hope to pass these traits on to my grandchildren. By the way, Skype is a wonderful way to keep up with grandchildren who live far away.

  59. Anne Turley

    I always thought of myself as a hippie/yuppie, because I loved the music, the freedom, but I worked and bought a house and all that too. Don't forget the whole sexual revolution which is still going on, with Republicans trying to repress women! As Gloria Steinem says, “I am a humanist.” Gender roles can limit things for men too. They need paternity leave too! I still want to live on a ranch with horses and dogs and a pottery studio and a place to swim with casitas for all my friends. But guess what? You need MONEY for that. Supposedly the root of all evil. Hmmm… Money can be used for good things too. But the mantra of the hippies – peace and love – nothing wrong with that!! The girl putting a daisy in the rifle of the national guard. That is what I think of.

  60. Anonymous

    “Hippie” as a construct is an ideal, minus the experimental parts – I still “tune in” (more via internet, less via shared sleeping bags), most of us don't “turn on” anymore, having learned that this lasts only so long before it becomes a negative and not a passage into nirvana, and dropping out certainly only had short term gains leading to poverty and growing great pot, but certainly not changing the world or making it more nirvana-like. I'm a social worker. I like to believe I help make my corner of the world a better place, help a few people see a better life, help a few more see a bigger world of possibilities. I donate to lots of causes which I could never have done had I dropped out for very long. “Hippie” for me is a grounding of thought and action, of remembering the world as a community of people with whom I am inextricably connected – sort of like the idealistic first stage of being a progressive. The word, the idea, brings a smile and remembrance of hope, and that's good. And I think I would label myself a Hippie Grandma, and my kids would all say so too.

  61. Anonymous

    The people I knew who might now be considered “hippies” were engaged. Social activists, artists, artisans, musicians. People with big dreams and an eye on a hopefully better future that they wanted to help make happen. I would hear the term a lot amongst my friends, always used with the very greatest of irony. We knew then that word was a form of dismissal. Today it has come to be nothing more than a burlesque stereotype like an Irish cop or an Italian organ grinder. You show a young guy in a Mexican style serape, sandals, long hair and a headband. Give him a flower to hold as a prop and show a fly buzzing around his head for the full comic effect. You do that and you have safely contained something that might otherwise require a lengthy explanation.
    > Anyway, when you hear that “hippie” crap from some punk kid, sit them down and make sure they get the long version. At very least you'll hear “You tell some wacky stories, Grandpa!”

  62. rick the celestial cowboy

    wow, what a site – and what comments! i see some real denial here from social workers, etc. who are trying to dismiss the importance of that innocent little plant which goes by so many names — the blessed herb (CARIBBEAN), pot, ganja or marijuana. the truth is that marijuana expands and beautifies the mind. it brings back feelings and thoughts that were dead, and creates new ideas that never existed before. in his autobiography, the great italian filmmaker federico fellini wrote that he smoked the herb or hashhish before sitting down to plot his films. out of those sessions came LA STRADA, 8 1/2, LA DOLCE VITA, CITY OF WOMEN, AMACORD and his other film masterpieces. thank goodness the voters of california will go to the polls in november to vote on legalizing marijuana. there is some sanity in the world, even though it doesn't seem to exist in the white house, iraq, pakistan or other parts of the world where violence and death rule.

  63. ex Flower Child

    It is good to be known as a “hippie”. We began the movement so that women had choices, and yes I am obsessed with recyling, but so should everyone be.
    I wish I had never left the group setting we lived in where people shared responsibility for meals and child care and tending a garden. Who wants to live in a big house with just one other person and too many material possessions. Where are the hippie communes now?

  64. iNdi@

    my grandmother [although not a hippie] wore reconstructed/recycled clothes and taught me to sew
    and to dye with plants
    and to grow vegetables and bake bread
    i still do all these things
    and when i am eventually blessed with grandchildren
    i hope to share these things with them, too

  65. BEVKAI

    The celestial cowboy brought up the Weed- -and I'm glad. You can't study or do homework while high. I believe that Poe, the Beatles, and Fellini were geniuses with or without drugs. They would have composed anyway.

    One downside is my son and his children; as a rebel teen, he fathered one, perhaps two boys, in the Deep South. Their mothers raised them, I have never seen them, and it was my former husband's widow who told me of the younger one.

    I would certainly be able to recognize any grandchild on the street, because of strong family features. Think ears. but I am not going to take a long tiring trip to the South to look at a couple of strange men pushing middle age.

    As I wrote above, my son found his bliss in Berkeley. You could toke openly on the street. Other than a ball and chain, I could do nothing about his behavior, and when he wanted to go out on his own at 18, I assented. He couldn't smoke openly while living with his dad in the South…. so Berkeley was a very bad influence on a confused boy.

    He straightened out after totaling his ankle, both hands, and his motorcycle on a freeway on-ramp. Stoned and drunk, he skidded out, slid under the guardrail, and down the embankment. His helmet saved his life.

    Fortunately, the orthopedic surgeon at the nearby Kaiser hospital knew how to talk to him…. because he had a lot of practice. What he said sank in, and my boy realized that if he didn't straighten out, he would die.

    He is middle aged now, and admits to not being able to stop the beer and cigarettes. He yells at me a lot, so we don't talk much. However, he has made a life for himself, and I am grateful that he is alive and flourishing.

    I wish the same for my daughters, but they just don't communicate. I learned of the arrest of my oldest by Googling her. At least she let me meet her twin boys when they were 11 and 13. They just graduated high school, but I have no idea what is next.

    When my son and I spent that year in Berkeley, there were people my age who had embraced the illusory freedom of drugs, and wound up in the gutter, unable to get out. A headline in the Daily Californian was “Down and Out and Mentally Ill on Telegraph Ave.”I was a psych-ward intern for a few months. Even the staff there was arrested a few weeks later.

    Ten years before had been the Summer of Love in San Francisco.. It was foggy, cold, and damp in the Haight, as usual. Barefoot kids wrapped in Army blankets. A nearby house with a brand-new steel gate. The volunteer “Diggers” setting up the gear to hand out the daily free dinner.

    This is what “hippie” means to a lot of people, I guess. They forget that the calls for change were legitimate, and that needed social change had been delayed and dammed up by WWII.

    I saw the first cracks in that mythical dam in North Beach in the Fifties. In my hat, heels, and gloves, I went with my military husband and dad to the Co-Existence Bagel Shop on Upper Grant Ave to “look at the Beatniks”. On the wall was a giant Boy Scout pennant: BE SQUARE.

    Paedrick Seamus O'Sullivan sold us a book of his poetry and I tossed it out a few years later. Foolish me; he hung with Ferlenghetti and Keroack. I know that I just misspelled Jack's name – -but with Fibro, I am so tired I don't care.

    As is said with bad jokes, 'You hadda be there.” Decadence is like a mushroom. Grows unseen, grows best in, um, fertilizer,but those few top cells are delicious.

    Bev in Honolulu

  66. Mimi

    Hi Sara,
    So happy you are thinking about being a granny!!! I think you know that I am the lucky granny of four beautiful and different grandsons. Only one thinks that I am hippie like!
    They are the light in my life and I feel so blessed and lucky that they are nearby and I can see them all the time. Spend alot of time at baseball and la cross games. It's the best thing that has happened to me at this age (70) in May and I only hope there will be more.
    Will be back in touch. Off to Mexico to play for a week and to celebrate this birthday with my best friend. We were at our 1st birthdays together so we go way back.
    Can't wait for you to be a granny.

  67. Mary

    Hippie was a one-up word in a society that decried that very attitude. Sex, drugs, rock n roll, tuned in,dropped out– I still don't know how to answer the question, were/are you a hippie? And I hate the thought of saying yes or no even though if I had to pick one word to describe my life from 1965-now, I'd want that word. I just don't want to pick! Isn't a “all you need is love” foundation (or response) enough?

    Stumbled on your blog– can't wait to read more. I read Loose Change when it came out and loved it. About time to read it again. Thank you!

  68. navworkspress

    Just one of those generic stereotypical generational labels.

    If a couple of the assumed major characteristics seem to fit, you will be forever condemned to being a hippie in someone else's eyes.

    Your hairstyle, the fact that you wore Indian clothes, the content of your article, and the fact that you admit you fit the bill (I hope you still don't do narcotic drugs though)would all put you in the hippie aura whether you truly were or not.

    My brother made love beads (Indian beads), had free sex under blankets at the local park, was as green and sci-fi as they come, sported an enormous brown afro (he's English and Portuguese in descent), wore the loose clothes and wild tops with bell bottoms, has always wanted to live in a geodesic dome (and now does finally at over 50 years old),and he still smokes non-tobacco products—- he's a hippie.

    But he is not Marxist, he's moderate politically, he believes in our nation's Christian heritage, he worked his whole life to make a living, and he thinks the freemarket economy would work if we could get rid of the greed.

  69. navworkspress

    (part two)

    So as I said in part one, my brother was a hippie.

    Now me, on the other hand, I grew up in the 70's and though I touched on the very fringe of hippie-ism, I came of age in the mid 70's and was part of the “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” generation.

    We did not believe in communal living, we wore black concert t-shirts and scrappy jeans with running shoes and some kind of cap, usually a ball cap, and would not be caught in some of the outlandish hippie clothes, though tie-dye was okay at times.

    Most of us did not sport peace signs and flowers, we sported skulls with crossbones, anarchy symbols, and any other rabid “death mongering symbol” or “occult symbol” that seemed cool.

    We wanted America to kick ass everywhere and anywhere in sports worldwide and politically. We thought that Richard Nixon was an opportunistic crook, Jimmy Carter was a cowardly idiot, Gerald Ford a bumbling fool and Ronald Reagan a tough hombre who kicked ass and meant business.

    We listened to the likes of Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Who, Blue Oyster Cult, Yes, Supertramp, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, The Eagles, Lynard Skynard. We didn't mind The Doors, Beatles, Cream, Rolling Stones, Chicago, King Crimson, ELP, either.

    Some of us branched off into early 80s hairbands like Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, Triumph, Def Leppard, Queensryche, Cinderella, Rainbow. Others branched off into early new wave like Huey Lewis and the News, The Police, The Cars, Ramones, Talking Heads, Cheap Trick, The Romantics, Blondie, Gary Numan, Peter Gabriel. And still others stayed more mainstream like with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Phil Collins, U2, Van Halen, Journey, Styx, Boston, Kansas, Metallica, new Rush, and on.

    Sex: We wanted free sex not because of free love, but because we wanted to score and we wanted to avoid commitment. Yet our women tried to hook us into commitment often by pregnancy.

    Drugs: We did any drug we could find, drank ourselves silly and partied every moment we could. We tried to work, we wanted to work, we were capable of work, but who we were and what we gave off made that difficult.

    Rock-n-Roll: The rock concert hall was our temple and place of worship. Rock musicians were our presbyters. Our choice of musicians and rock groups defined our identities. We sported their vestments (concert t-shirts) at all times.

    We said things like “what a trip” “that's a riot” “that sucks” “that blows” “that's just wrong” “what a dick” “that's just crazy” “I'm getting bad vibes” “that rocks” “rock-n-roll will never die” “disco sucks” and other monikers. A few holdouts might say “funky” or “groovy” – hippie words that held out.

    Many of us became slackers through the early 80s and only truly found ourselves in the mid to late 80s. At that point we finally blended in a bit more with the society around us, undertook successful ventures, and became a lost, or absorbed generation.

    Because of this osmosis into society, we disappeared and now some think us to be the last hippies, others the first new wavers. A few of us still think black concert t-shirts and jeans are the thing.

    For the most part we are successful, we distrust the established politicians of both parties and want to see a new generation of government rise up where we have a great leader like a Lincoln or a Reagan who is balanced and real, yet committed to freedom and who can make us truly believe in America again.

    Well, we gat called hippies too, at times, but I know who we are.

  70. JJ

    Actually, Shroudwoman, by the time Herb Caen got around to using the term “hippie” it was already in use, coined substantially earlier by another SF Chron columnist, Art Hoppe. Hoppe posed that the latest crop of counter-culture youngsters was too “hip” to be “hep” like the beatniks. So he decided to call us “hippies.”

    The Chronical was a Hearst newspaper, and you know how Randy and his daddy loved to go for the sensationalist BS. For instance, the Chron sent an “undercover” reporter to infiltrate a Haight-Ashbury crash pad for a week, then published a multi-part, page one series, “I Was A Hippie.”

    I got to write the Berkeley Barb's front page satirical rebuttal, “I Was a Straightie — The Lowdown on the Uptights.” When I tried to sell Caen a copy of the paper outside the Chron offices, he flipped me off. Me and the union printers on their coffee break had a good laugh over that.

    I later found out that the original Chron reporter came back to his editor and said, “There's nothing wrong with these kids. I can't write a hit piece on them.” He was summarily removed from the story, which was then concoted for publication by his editor.

    While “hippie” is kind of an old school catch-all phase now, back then it was considered a pejorative, especially by anybody who was called a “hippie.” And the people calling us “hippies” today probably watch FOX and vote for Sarah Palin.

    Oh yeah — to my knowledge, me and Bob Weir were the only Bay Area rockers at the time who didn't do drugs.(He meditated.) And I held down at least two jobs when my hair was down to my ass. I never even heard of Bob Marley til 1976, and by then I was long out of SF, running the first Rodale-affiliated (not “certified” in those days) organic farm in the Greater Seattle.

    So sue me — I like to eat, sing for peace and wish there were some real progressives in the White House. 🙂

  71. Anonymous

    I was a teacher at Franconia College which was located in the White Mts. of N.H. during the mid 60's. It was the first college to allow co-ed dorms and was known by many as a hippie college. But there was a considerable split between those who were after sex, drugs, and rock n' roll and those who were involved with SNCC and civil rights issues. The Hippies were thought of as hippie-dippies by the political people who were in the minority and the hippies thought the political people were up tight and needed to get laid more. The college is having a reunion of faculty and students on Aug. 20th on the spot where the college once existed and I'm told about 500 people will show up for it. I think I'll bring up the question of what was a hippie sometime during the weekend…

  72. Alicia Bay Laurel

    Angela Davis said, “It is both humiliating and humbling that I am remembered as a hairdo.” Well, yeah. For us, too. “Hippie” was first coined in mid-20th century Harlem as a derogatory term for white guys who tried to look and talk more black than black people did. The term was first applied to the (then) current crop of bohemians living in San Francisco in the mid 1960s by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. I say “current crop,” because bohemian/back-to-nature values and lifestyle date back to 19th century Europe or before. Gordon Kennedy wrote an interesting book on this called Children of the Sun, featuring 100 year old photographs of the freaks of yore, complete with proto-Birkenstocks, breastfeeding, flowing locks and garments, eating raw vegan food and going naked when the weather permitted. He links them to the Hollywood Nature Boys (e.g. Gypsy Boots and Eden Ahbez, who wrote the jazz classic, Nature Boy), who then inspired Baby Boomer Californians to live as they did. So, in answer to your question, “what's a hippie?,” I say, a bohemian. So, what's a bohemian? Someone who esteems compassion before profit, creativity before conformity and serenity before materialism. As Peter Simon's friend Steve Diamond once wrote, “The hair is neither here nor there, but the eye don't lie.” And, BTW, hello dear Sara, so happy to be writing to you after all these decades. Some Wheeler Ranch folk sent me your blog on Facebook today. Gotta love the 'net.

  73. Anonymous

    Sara, thank you for sharing this. My daughter and I frequently argue about this exact issue. If all it takes is to have lived through the 60s and 70s and like the Beatles and Bob Marley…then, hell, I guess they don't know as much as they think they know…

  74. tomlaureld@yahoo.com

    My name Tomas and I created LaurelRose to link the Morningstar and Wheeler Folk online and to place any history written or blogged online with links.
    I stayed at Tolstoy Farm in the summer of 67 and went south in a caravan to Morningstar in the fall of 67. I spent the fall-winter-early spring at Morningstar and a day or two at Wheelers before the law placed me in their abode. It was not the 1st.
    I left Morningstar to work (kind of a zen thing). I could not believe that folks paid me to work. I could have worked as a slave ( it did not matter to me at the time).
    I got a job at a lock and dam working for the federal Gov. It was outside work and I loved it.
    So what does this have to do with being a “Hippie grandma”? Life is a state of mind and whether you knew it or not you complied and were influenced by the time involved with your writing. This is only a planet and we do what we can and you have influenced your daughter.
    Ah it's a grand place.

  75. Anonymous

    Ramon Sender said it best. . .”Hippies are people who have enogh sense to go outside when the sun is shining!”

  76. Angela

    Finding this site is the result of typing a search for ” bohemian hippy type senior dating”. I joined a popular dating site and out of 300 matches had only one “hit”. When I exposed my life philosophy,that match was never heard from again. You see I was a hippie in every sense. I fought against the establishment and continue to do so. Everything we did back then was for the improvement of the world. We grew our own food,fought against unjust wars and fought for human rights. I am proud to be a part of that movement. Even though my look has changed my ideals are still the same. “Make love, Not War”, freedom at any cost,suspicion of politicians…. I digress. Anyway, I am sixty and single looking for a partner thus the dating website. Seems like no one wants a sixty year old African American hippy woman! This website matches “29 points of compatability”. OK- so why do I keep getting Military officers,Policemen,Bankers,Engineers and people who read technical manuals and hunt deer for fun? Now as for my son and two grand-daughters ages 13 and 17. My son has told them stories of “forced vegeterianism,recyling,picking up trash in the neighborhood, hitch hiking, forced camping trips and marijuana smoking”and of some Charles Manson-like family we knew and of course Mama had a live-in musician boyfriend- all of which he could not wait to escape. He likes to think he did not get the hippie gene, even though he abhors killing, would not think of eating a steak,recycles and is concerned about global warming and has been known to sit naked in the hot springs while smoking a joint.My daughter-in-law was raised in a conservative southern family and has all of those values and works very hard to impart them to her two bi-racial daughters. My G.daughters would rather play on the computer, text and talk on the phone, go shopping rather than visit Nanna at her hippy pad and HAVE to go for a walk along the river. “It's too cold”,”her dog sleeps in her bed”, “she won't let us text”, “she smells like patcholi”,”she's wierd”,”she celebrates Kwanzaa”. These are just a few of the excuses why they don't want to be around this Nana.
    The other Nana takes them shopping,gives them large amounts of money, has a nice house, cooks meat, wears make-up and generally lets them do whatever they want.I haven't seen them in a year. They are always busy. I wish I could find someone like the blogger,Beauregard. He wouldn't have to worry about me not having enough love to go around. One more thing-regarding pot smoking. I don't do it anymore.I found it too debilitating at this age and there are so many negative aspects to obtaining it. The “search” has lost its allure. Whew! Thanks for letting me vent. I feel much better now. I love this site.

  77. Anonymous

    Finding this site is the result of typing a search for ” bohemian hippy type senior dating”. I joined a popular dating site and out of 300 matches had only one “hit”. When I exposed my philosophy, match was never heard from again. You see I was a hippie in every sense. I fought against the establishment and continue to do so. Everything we did back then was for the improvement of the world. We grew our own food,fought against unjust wars and fought for human rights. I am proud to be a part of that movement. Even though my look has changed my ideals are still the same. “Make love, Not War”, freedom,suspicion of politicians. I digress. Anyway, I am sixty and single looking for a partner thus the dating website. Seems like no one wants a sixty year old African American hippy woman! This website matches “29 points of compatability”. OK- so why do I keep getting Military,Police,Bankers,Engineers who read technical manuals and hunt deer for fun? Now for my son and two grand-daughters ages 13 and 17. My son has told them stories of “forced vegeterianism,recyling,picking up trash in the neighborhood, hitch hiking, forced camping trips and marijuana smoking”, all of which he could not wait to escape. He likes to think he did not get the hippie gene, even though he abhors killing, would not think of eating a steak,recycles and is concerned about global warming and has been known to sit naked in the hot springs while smoking a joint. My G.daughters would rather play on the computer, text and talk on the phone, go shopping rather than visit Nanna at her hippy pad and HAVE to go for a walk along the river. “It's too cold”,”her dog sleep in her bed”, “she won't let us text”, “she smells like patcholi”,”she's wierd”. These are just a few of the excuses why they don't want to be around this Nana.
    The other Nana takes them shopping,gives them large amounts of money, has a nice house, cooks meat, wears make-up and generally lets them do whatever they want.I haven't seen them in a year. They are always busy. I wish I could find someone like the blogger,Beauregard. He wouldn't have to worry about me not having enough love to go around. One more thing-regarding pot smoking. I don't do it anymore.I found it too debilitating at this age and there are so many negative aspects to obtaining it. The “search” has lost its allure. Whew! Thanks for letting me vent. I feel much better now. I love this site.

  78. Sara Davidson

    Welcome Angela!
    Glad to have you here.
    The “Who's a Hippie” post was in April, and it's received more comments than any other post I've done since I started blogging. I guess there are a lot of us out there!
    Shine on!

  79. Open Door


    Thank you for this great post and the fascinating comments it has generated!

    I too feel like a hybrid, with a foot in the entrepreneurial camp and the other foot firmly in the hippie camp. I really identify with many of the elements and values of the hippie movement although I was too young to join the original group.

    I look forward to reading your book!

    peace & namaste and hippy grandma love for generations,

    Zoey ~ founding hippy of the Hippy Grandma Eco-Boutique

  80. Jean, The Measure Free Hippie Cook

    As the Measure Free Hippie Cook (and Gardener) I found your article decently done–and list compelling.

    I'd add two more points: You're a hippie if you

    *are thrifty in order to decrease your dependence on the cash economy

    *prefer to create and experiment instead of following paint-by-numbers directions (no matter whether they relate to cooking, gardening, sewing, carpentry, etc)

  81. Jean Johson

    I also noticed the title of one of your books. It reminds me of how I've characterized myself on FB: Sustainable type from the Sixties up for a last subversive hurrah!

    Also on the pot point–I too think that might be overstated in my case. At this stage of the game, I tend to be more of a joker than a smoker…

  82. Anonymous

    Hippiedom is like Jazz – the more you try to define it, the less you communicate its essence. It's about freedom and self-expression – “Do your own thing!” These things should have been an organic/integral part of our social order but conformity was the obsession (still is… corporately speaking) which necessitated the explosion of creativity.
    Unfortunately, the hippie movement began to die as soon as it became defined by its detractors who saw it as a threat to the money-power scam, so they extolled the lowest common denominators, the immature elements.
    A true hippie is a Revolutionary in the sense that the Establishment no longer supports, espouses, or represents the ideals put forth in the Founding Documents. This became glaringly obvious as they hypocrisy at every level became intolerable. Sadly, most hippies were merely adolescents testing freedom without any larger purpose and the movement became marginalized (though not dead) with the straw man labels of hedonism, which Wall Street and Madison Avenue glorified and exploited to the hilt.
    America the Large didn't get it, and they still don't, because they packed away the higher moral principles along with the tie-dyes. The karma that brought us to this god-awful point, and the mountains of denial, are yet to be resolved. I'm on facebook if you are a like-minded soul… steve sims

  83. Anonymous

    I love this blog, as it reminds me of so many awesome times, people, events, concerts, and free love. But when I went to work part-time in an elementary classroom, the principal (a woman) asked if I wanted to be addressed as Miss or Mrs. I was shocked… omg – what happened to Ms?

    I am truly disappointed and dis-heartened that we seem to have become a society of materialistic consumers rather than have lived our dreams and ideals that we fought so hard for back in the 60s. Some things have been realized like recycling, composting and “green” everything now, but not enough people realize the affect and importance of doing these things.

    God Bless All of the Hippies!


  84. Sara Davidson

    Hi Steve,
    Like most people on earth, I am on Facebook. Search for “Sara Davidson Writes” and click “like.”
    I'm also on as Sara Davidson, but I'm friended out. Google won't let me add more friends, so if you click Like on the other page, we can be in touch.
    Happy NEW YEAR TO ALL!

  85. Lisa

    Hi Sara,I will start by thanking you for writing Leap- it was a wonderful book and I related to many of the issues and struggles of the various people interviewed.I am however, writing you regarding your blog post “Hippie Grandma”. A little back ground: I am 48 and was widowed at 35. We have a wonderful son and daughter(twins) who are now 28 . Both are highly successful and have been living independently since college for the most part. Here is my confession: I don’t really look forward to being a “hands on Grandma”. Is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow yet another version of the caretaker role? Really! It seems there is such pressure, for women in particular, to be “excited” to revisit the care taking role. I am on the younger side so I have had a scant few ME years: and I have enjoyed them! Most women have barely closed the chapter on parenting, if at all, and …WHAM…enter being a grandma. Where is the time to define who you are as well as what you face with the myriad of complexities aging alone brings about . Am I the only one who feels this way? My children simply assume that being a grandma is something that I will love and embrace. I’ve barely begun the journey as to what to do in the years to come. I have another 20 years to work just to get by. Do other future grandmothers reiterate this feeling. I feel selfish, but frankly, I feel it is MY time to love me more

  86. Anonymous

    I was (like many of us who grew up in the 60's) an upper middle class girl. My Mom was deeply disturbed when on a first visit home after moving to California she saw I was not wearing a bra. I didn't do it to rebel. It was just so much more comfortable. I lived in San Francisco and met my children's father while living in a spiritual commune.

    My grandchildren call me Bubbie (not a derivation of hippie, even if it sounds like it). What kind of gramma am I? — well different things at different times. I gave the first two grandchildren their first newborn bath. I worked second shift so I was able to help care for the 4 year old as an infant so his Mom could telecommute from home and breast feed.
    I pick up the older kids from school. I do one at a time sleep overs. My former husband died 3 years ago. His wife and I are co-grandparents in a loosely non-structured way.

    My most cherished thing gotten from my “old hippie days” – that serves as the basis for what kind of gramma I am – is the ability to be quiet, and to be present; To feel my open heart with them, to actively listen to each of them and laugh with them.

  87. Paisley

    I have wondered about this myself and I want to thank you for helping me solidify my own ideas. 🙂
    If I become a grandma, I want to do what I did with my daughter & son: teach them to play in the veggie garden & make a compost, and learn about worms, and watch for bats at night, and make buttercup adornments and dry herbs, shop at thrift stores, and find cool things to play with at yard sales. My kids told me I am a hippie at heart. I am learning that I love this, because I always thought it was normal to act this way. I struggle with the turn on, tune in, drop out philosophy, I think it is for the young. Older hippies need help. 🙂 BTW Patchouli smells great. LOL

  88. BackofthelandButch

    I was there when you came to Wheeler’s, caught you at Hoppies Hill, Alicia was my closest neighbor and Bill was just being Bill.
    I drove the “community bus” to Sebastopol and Occidental and the Russian river for outings.
    I miss Sheriff Rod,Sunhouse Mike,Nassue and Eddie,Snakepit Eddie,Alicia.Coyotte,Guitar Dave and Eileen my love and everyone who contributed to the ranch.If we had not been bulldozed, I would probably still be there.
    The misconception of visitors was that we were trying to change the world when in fact we were just changing ourselves,a purge of main st. teachings if you will.

    If you don’t see yourself as a hippie then you aren’t one, but you are as close as a non hippie will ever get to being one.

    Peace! BackofthelandButch

  89. Sunshine

    I was, am, and always will be a Freak – same with my soulmate. We were only a few days ago faced with a grandchild on the way and we were asked this question. Our first reaction – Sunny and Dude – was met with trepidation. So, our daughter decided I should be Uma – she’s still working on what her dad should be.

    We don’t care so much what the little one calls us, we’re just happy he or she is on the way and hope for good health! All we’ve talked about for the last several days is all the music we’re going to introduce, the gardening and herbal medicine we can teach, the dogs and chickens for him/her to play with, what we’ll tell him/her about our solar and geothermal and recycling, liberating his/her mind from the oppressive things her parents will tell him/her, and how many times we’ll visit the local chocolate shop! 🙂

  90. bob j

    As a 2 tour Vietnam vet, I came back to the world, got out of VA hospital, met a hippie hitchin a ride and ended up goin to Woodstock with her. Changed my life! I’m a 66 yr old hippie grandpa with an 8 yr old grand daughter who loves grampys beard and earring with two foot long ponytail. Brags about me to her friends. I love it. People in town call me the hippie dude but that’s OK.

  91. John and Melissa Rezabek

    We are just looking for unique, hippie, earthy, spiritual names for us . We have just be come grandparents and yet to find the right names !

    I disagree on the fact that hippies don’t work , we do and love to do so . I am an artist And we sale vtg clothing and goods .

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