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Two different ways of spelling "hippie" are used on this site. The word "hippie" is also spelled "hippy". The spelling "hippy" is older, and is used more often as a noun and the more popular spelling "hippie" is used more often as a verb. Hope you'll find this form of avant-garde blog style literature and Web art interesting. And finally, hope you won't mind the author's lack of formal literary skills. After all, this is just a personal site and not a book, in the formal meaning of the world.

The hippie movement was a pacifist movement at a time when most Americans were being brought up on cowboy movies. So, where to begin my story? Perhaps I should begin by explaining how I became a hippie. In fact, I didn't know that I was one until I was told that I was one. So, I don't know why I became one because it wasn't anything planned. It was something that happened naturally. I suppose there were many reasons for that. Probably the main one was because I was born in the middle of the 20th Century, at the beginning of the Atomic Age and just after WWII. So, it probably was the Karma of those times that turned a small percentage of my generation toward greater awareness of where the world was heading and the Peace Movement was our way of getting the message across to the rest of the world. The peace sign that is associated with hippies was used for the first time at anti-nuclear demonstrations. It was created in 1958 by Gerald Holtom for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in England. It quickly caught on among activists and hippies in America and across the world.

Peace sign

Few are aware today that only about 2% of American youth participated in the Hippie movement. So it wasn't a mass movement before Woodstock 1969. I never chose to become a hippie. I was called a hippy by others, and got my hippie nickname "The Polish Hippy" from a Belgium friend from school. The name caught on and I became well known after I was forced by my school to get a haircut. The hippie name stayed with me all through the 1960s. But before all that happened, I was a fan of American folk music, Blues music, Allen Ginsberg, the Beat writers and abstract avant-garde art. In 1964 The Beatles came to America and were followed by other British bands. The bands from Britain brought colors and spectacular changes to the conservative by comparison American culture.

The hippie movement was a pacifist movement at a time when most Americans were being brought up on cowboy movies. [ Photo: the author as a child ]

I suppose many other Beatles fans began like I did, by waring high heel Beatle boots and growing long hair. The British artists resembled spoiled boys from good British homes, not hippies. The fashions from London were called Mod Fashions. Later, the Mod look transformed itself into the colorful hippie look.

So to sum it up and make the story short, one thing in Britain led to another in America, and other things were added to that; thus a hippy was born. The hippie movement was a pacifist movement at a time when most Americans were brought up on cowboy movies, wore neatly cut short hair or crew-cuts and used lots of brilliantine (Vitalis) to keep the hair glued in place and shining looking a bit like Elvis. Please remember that hippies in those days were a small minority. That may have been because of the exotic worldviews hippies shared and because hippies were a Bohemian type culture. And I remembered seeing many students like that, dressed in sandals with guitars and bongos on my family trips across Europe when I was child. Many of those were the fashions and lifestyles adopted by early beatniks, hipsters and later, the hippies. The ideas I found among participants of the anti-Vietnam War and the human rights movements were ones I could easily identify with. In fact, the movement was so strongly connected with the anti-Vietnam War movement that it ended almost at the same time when the war ended; though many of us continued to be hippies at heart.

The hippie movement was created in America but incorporated many ideas and things that came from Great Britain and Continental Europe. America is different in many ways from the Old Woeld. Hippies also formed an informal political movement, and it's been said that hippies are social reformists that brought about many important changes to the world. Many of those we take for granted now. But as the movement spread, hippies became identified with different things in different countries of the world. Not all of them were as positive as in the USA. For example, European hippies were involved in different types of issues then American hippies. They also wanted social changes and organized protest marches but didn't have to deal with the Vietnam war, a military draft and other issues we had to face on the New Continent. They also traveled around the world a lot more; probably because it was easier to travel from Europe to Asia and the Indian subcontinent, for example.

I was brought up in a cosmopolitan European family. We relocated to Chicago in 1961 after my Mom remarried. My Parents spoke several languages like Polish, German, Czech, English and Latin. So, that was one thing that wasn't common among most Americans. My Mom was born in Germany and my Dad in the Czech Republic; though ethnically they were Polish. My Dad was a true capitalist, a businessman and a professional artist. He was offered a high government post in Communist Poland but refused to join the Communist Party during the occupation of Poland by the Soviets, and paid a high price for that. I also had close relatives who were imprisoned in Auschwitz and who died there during the Nazi occupation of Poland. So the life experiences and worldviews I was exposed to were different from those of most Americans from my generation. Hence, it was inevitable for me to become a hippie one way or another. The hippie movement was the only movement which shared my views and worked towards ending the madness of war, the exploatation of natural environment, demanded respect for basic human rights and other important issues for the world that I supported with all of my heart.

Beatniks, 1940s hipsters and hippies were urban subcultures that are connected. They are a continuation of the European libertine culture,
Wandervogles and bohemian scene. Hippies were most often young people from middle or upper class homes. But hippies weren't the only ones that wore long hair in the 1960s. There were other groups that also wore long hair. Some of those were for example members of motorcycle clubs, vagabonds and beggars. They were often wrongly mistaken for hippies by people who had less knowledge about the hippie movement. There were also earlier subculture groups such as Nature Boys, better known in pre-War Europe as Lebensreform that had an enormous influence on hippies. Furthermore, I was brought up on the spirit of the Lebensreform movement which had many followers through out Europe and some followers in America. Hence, another reason why I was quickly labeled "a hippie".

Hippies were, and still are involved in issues such as ecology, psychedelics,
Peace, music, art, poetry, reformation of society and government, and other things like that. Hippies are important social Reformers. Allen Ginsberg and the Beats were also such reformers. Unlike some folks who may call themselves a hippie, a true hippy would not own a gun or shoot an animal. Real hippies are Earth loving people. Hippies lived the way they did because it was an alternative lifestyle to the mainstream model that was focused mainly on consumption, competition and topping others. Today it may seem that hippies were about taking drugs, bubble baths or going to concerts. But that's not the way it really was. There were also some hippies that drank wine or that didn't take a bath everyday.

From an old photo. Chicago 1967

The Blues Brothers at Calumet Harbor.
95th Street Bridge on Calumet River.

I was camera shy in the 1960s. That's probably why I have only few photos from those days. And none from Led Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Savoy Brown, Jethrol Tull and other concerts at the Fillmore or in Grant Park. Photos from a Jefferson Airplane concert in Grant Park are further down the page or in the 1960s Album. I don't have any from Anti-War marches and demonstrations that were held in Chicago. But who took cameras to those kinds of events in those days? So, I feel lucky to have the ones I have. Chicagoís Old Town was the Midwest's 1960s hippie Mecca. It wasn't just a neighborhood but a state of mind. The Old Town neighborhood is centered around North and Wells Streets on the Near North Side. It has changed a lot since the sixties. Many may remember it for the Old Town School of Folk Music, Piper's Alley, 1960s folk music clubs such as Like Young, Earl Of Old Town, boutiques such as The Man At Ease, headshops, The Secondhand Rose, bookstores, cafes and the Second City Theatre at 1616 N. Wells that gave us the definitive Saturday Night Live cast, the Blues Brothers and Mike Myers aka. Wayn's World and Austin Powers. I believe Mike Myers well captures the Chicago area Rock spirit of mid 1970-80s in the Wayn's World series, and that of Mod fashions of mid 1960-70s in his Austin Powers films.

Mike Myers in Wayn's World and Austin Powers series movies

Old Town was also where an illegal back-house tavern operated on Wells Street through the 1970-80s called The Blues Brothers Bar that was started by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, who later became better known from the 1980 Blues Brothers movie.

Old Town was a place where one could find many artists, writers,
beatniks, flower children, folk musicians, hipsters, artists, groovy shops with black lights, dayglow posters, incense, rubber peace stamps, hippie beads, goods from India, water pipes, rolling papers and other hippie paraphernalia.

I remember Old Town best for its parties, Piperís Alley, Folk Music Cafes that I couldn't afford to visit too often, and Lincoln Park where we used to gathered on various occasions. There was also a lot going on at the University of Chicago Campus, The Coffeehouse on 54th Street in Hyde Park near the Museum of Science and Industry and also in Grand Park. But that would be another long story.

My neighborhood was also where
The Memorial Day massacre of 1937 took place on Burley Avenue, in which many demonstrators were brutally beaten and shot dead by the Chicago Police force. That was a keystone event for the labor movement. It also inspired many to show support and to stand up for the working class, Many artists such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger became involved and identified with that cause. Artists such as Bob Dylan, Donovan and a host of many other younger artists continue that mission through art and music into our times. The demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention began in Grant Part and were met with brutal Police force on orders of Mayer Richard J. Daley. That was followed by the trial of the Chicago Seven and it gave birth to the Yippie Movement which was initiated by Abbie Hoffman. My neighborhood was also the last place Mayer Richard J. Daley visited for an official visit on the day he died.

Later, after the government backed out of the Vietnam War the hippie movement also fell appart. Hippies lost their main cause and went separate ways. Many followed various other interests such as ecology, gay rights, civil rights, women's rights etc. Some also turned on to the Glam Rock or Glitter Rock scene that was forming in New York, and believe it or not, also the underground Disco Music scene of the early 1970s esp. in Chicago. The Disco music grew around Motown and Soul music. But its characteristic rhythm and beat came from the classic soul/disco song by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes called "The Love I Lost" and others such as "Love Boat" by Earl Young from Philadelphia in the late 1960s. The disco scene was very colorful and psychedelic. Chicago developed its own disco music style that is called House Music and which spread to other discos in Detroit and New York. House Music also influenced European Techno music; especially in Amsterdam.

The 1970s was a happier time when hippies achieved some goals; mainly the end of the Vietnam War. And for that reason I think it was a time of celebration, dancing and overindulging in different things that just became available. The Disco scene united gays, blacks, Latinos and people from many other walks of life. In the beginning it was a happy movement that started in underground clubs and gay bars located near former New York, Chicago and San Francisco hippie centers. One of such early discos in Chicago was Dugan's Bistro also called Bistro Chicago at 420 N. Dearborn Street. Later, others were opened around what is now known as the Boystown neighborhood, and others opened on Wells Street near Schiller Street in Old Town.

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The disco movement burned itself out by the early 1980s and ended in Chicago with burning of disco records at a sports stadium. The idea came from a Chicago radio DJ. Similar campaigns were held earlier against Rock & Roll music in 1950s and The Beatles' music in 1960s. But those were not as successful as that one against Disco music in 1970s. Yet, the spirit of the 50s, 60s and 70s survived and lives on.

Not until the 1990s did I realize how important role the hippie movement played in the formation of music, art, urban lifestyles and worldviews that blossomed in the following decades. Though, the 1980s was a bleak decade marked by the spread of the Hiv virus, economic crisis and an oil crises. So I joined the unemployed and had to move out of Chicago.

My friends from the University of Chicago campus in
Hyde Park turned me on to The Fugs, the peace movement and the psychedelic scene. Below is a photo from a Jefferson Airplane concert in Grant Park which was held some time before the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

My friends at a Jefferson Airplane Concert in Grand Park, 1969.
Later next year, some of those friends went to Woodstock in an old Cadillac hertz
that was shown in the Woodstock 1969 Movie.

My Cousins had a great basement band in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1965.
The were the warm up band for The Rolling Stones' Concert in Milwaukee.
They also showed them around town in their red Thunderbird convertable.

Me and Joe, an old hippy friend from Chicago's Old Town and Near North Side, 1974.

Here's some photos from my 1969 trip to the Old Continent from Montreal.

I took this photo on the Atlantic Ocean in 1970 on my way back to Montreal, Canada

But lets get back to 1969. In that year, I went on a vacation trip to Europe and ended up staying there for half a year. That experience helped me to become more cosmopolitan and also solved my draft problem. Later, after returning to the US through Canada, changing my address, dropping out of High School for a few years and forgetting to register for the Armed Forces my draft situation was under control; though, I was risking a lot in case if I was caught. Iím still a bit sorry though, that I missed a chance to go to Woodstock with my buddies and sliding with them in the mud. On the other hand, I was in Canada, England, Holland, Denmark and Poland. In Poland, I was kept on the border for hours, had my luggage searched and had many things taken by a crooked Customs Officer. And after all that, I was made to pay a ridiculous costumes tax on used clothes. All this because the officer found a Peace button, Zig-Zag rolling papers and a new hash pipe in my luggage. It was a year after a wave of 1968 student protests in America and in Europe. It was also a year after the January and March 1968 student protests in Poland, which I wasn't aware of at that time. But I did not find hippies in Poland like in England, Denmark and Holland. What I found were students and kids that were trying to look fashionable. Most of all, they were interested in buying my jeans and LP vinyl records but not in discussing any of our ideology. It was like stepping into a time warp. But it was very cheap to stay there and I knew the language. It was also a good place to kick some bad habits and to repair the condition in which my condition was in. I also learned a bit about Marxism, which I found had nothing to do with the Marx Brothers or Marks & Spencer. The best of all was that the few bucks I got from home went a long way there, which is important no matter which ideology one follows.

A photo of a street in London 1970

I learned that Karol Marx was a romantic, who believed that the working class should have social benefits and more time to enjoy music, art and culture like he did. He was greatly influenced by Adam Smith, a well known 19-century Scottish Economist. Marx believed in globalization and that socialism would be good for highly developed and industrialized capitalist nations. He did not recommend socialism for developing countries like, for example Poland, Russia or India. Perhaps that's why it had failed behind the Iron Curtain and caught on well in neighboring with them industrialized countries such as Germany, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

On a tram stop at Al. Jerozolimskie & Nowy Swiat in Warsaw, Poland 1969

A residential street in London 1970

A monument I saw in Rotterdam, Netherlands 1970

Copenhagen, Denmark 1970

I must point out that my life was not exactly a bed of roses. I'm still reaping the consequences of the events of the 1960s that altered the course of my life forever.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

A friend I crossed the Atlantic Ocean with . . .

On a ship entering a port in Montreal, Canada 1970

Newsweek, December 15, 1980

A family friend at Pipers Alley in Chicago's Old Town, 1968

The Peace Movement was over by the mid 1970s, underground FM radio stations turned commercial, head shops closed and so called hippie ghettos or Meccas turned into popular tourist traps. The War was over! Lennon got married, the Beatles broke up and the Peace Movement was over too for a while. Many hippies returned to their family homes, graduated, got jobs, married, joined political parties, climbed up the ranks of the decked out world, became successful, joined the Rotary Club, became the establishment and were better known as Yuppies. But most hippies did not become Young Urban Professionals, and may not always look like a hippies, but we remain hippies at heart. So, we keep on truckin'.


Family friends at Pipers Alley in Chicago's Old Town 1968

On the next pages are some photos that were altered for a psychedelic effect and a few words about 1960s fashions followed by a link to My 1960s Photo Album.

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Copyright © by Adam Wojtanek