It always seemed peculiar how the adults of yesteryear (the senior citizens of today) could hijack the holidays of small children as they did in Bolinas in the late 1960’s and early1970’s.
A perfect example would be Easter, a religious holiday for many and also a day of hunting for Easter Eggs and colorful candies as we did for the first part of the day. However, at about 11 AM, the adults would round up the kids in their households and pack them into cars for a drive out to Palomarin, a desolate area located about ten miles from town, where there would be an all day party for the grownups, featuring alcohol, drugs, at least one rock band, and the smell of marijuana wafting through the air.
Dogs would roam the area sniffing for food and getting into occasional scuffles. A Palomarin Easter party was the first place that I had ever encountered dogs having sex. Or people, for that matter.
This was all long before the annual Floating Sun Festival and the ritualistic Blessing of the Babies at the sewer ponds that everyone now takes part in. This was before the downtown Labor Day Street Party, and long before the always chic Free Box Fashion Show. This was even before the 2 Miles sign started going missing out at the Wye. These were the days when the community was morphing from the old days of being a quaint fishing village, where monthly pancake breakfasts at the Rod and Boat Club were a big deal and folks looked forward to the annual Community Center Rummage Sale, to a place where someone once made the astute comparison of Bolinas being the All-American town of Mayberry having encountered Timothy Leary.
The entire Easter affair had been intricately planned in advance, from the gas-powered generator that would supply electricity for the band to the colorful LSD tabs that would be thrown out to the crowd. Amped up by the rock and roll music, the adults would leap through the air to get their share of the acid. Some of the children, thinking it was candy, would jump into the fray and snatch up their own piece of the party. This went on for years and was an occasion that the children actually began looking forward to, particularly the ride out to Palomarin, where if the dirt road was still wet from early spring rains, cars would often slide around or get stuck in the mud on the way out.
Easter in Bolinas will always be for me a curious mix of anticipation, which included dying eggs at the dining room table the night before and competing against my siblings the next morning to find them, and an overwhelming feeling of feeling of trepidation and revulsion watching adults get into fist fights and become passing out drunk by the end of the afternoon.
Then again, the idea of painting Easter eggs pales in comparison to what happened one Fourth of July, I think about 1971, when Bill Deloge, a former local and pillar of the community at the time, painted his entire body – and I do mean every inch of his entire body – red, white and blue – and marched naked through the parade! Even though I was only ten, I recall that people were cheering Bill’s patriotism as he marched down Wharf Road and up Brighton Avenue to the beach. The amazing thing to me, perhaps the spirit of the community at play, is that no one seemed to care! And if it happened again today, just like back then, I doubt that it would fluster anyone.
Today, my life in the suburbs of Sonoma County is far more benign. The wildest thing that happened on Easter Sunday has been a couple of egg hunts for the nieces and nephews in our back yard, as well as a fancy ham dinner spread that is amazingly cooked by my Jewish wife.
As crazy as it was back at the LSD Easter parties for a seven year old who a year earlier had been in New Jersey attending Catholic School, the images of the rock bands, and the dogs screwing, of pot, and red wine, and the people – are seared into my consciousness and are a favorite part of my childhood memories.
Frankly, I still can’t figure out which is more blasphemous: LSD at Easter or ham in the Synagogue!”