Summer of LoveAired April 23, 2007 The utopian beginnings of peace and love prevailed, and ended in chaos.
Summer of Love is a striking picture of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district during the summer of 1967 — from the utopian beginnings, when peace and love prevailed, to the chaos, unsanitary conditions, and widespread drug use that ultimately signaled the end.
In January 1967, the thousands of youth already in San Francisco descended on Golden Gate Park for a Human Be-In. The media flocked to the event, putting hippies in the national spotlight for the first time. And once the press offered a window into the world of Haight Ashbury, even more young people flooded in. "The city of San Francisco has been warned of a hippie invasion come summer in numbers almost too staggering to comprehend," declared one TV news reporter.
The Summer of Love was a fleeting moment in the turbulent history of the 1960s. But its underlying message left an indelible impression on those who witnessed it.
Cast and Crew
Written, Produced and Directed by
Gail Dolgin And Vicente Franco
David Ogden Stiers
Carlo A. Flores
Sound Design / Re-Recording Mixer
Paul J. Zahnley, CAS, Disher Music and Sound
Narration Recording Studios
Disher Music and Sound, Tom Disher / Paul J. Zahnley
Bob Elfstrom, Noe Valley Sound Stage
Debbie "Sunshine" Dunlap
Eugene Schoenfeld, M.D.
Zev Averbach Transcriptions
Tigerfish Transcription Service
BBC Motion Gallery
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: TV Archive Sales
Getty Images/Imagebank Film
Guy Morrison, VideoVault Media Services
Historic Films Archive, LLC
Kelly Hart, Hartworks Inc.
KTVU Fox2 News
Les Blank, Flower Films
Los Angeles Times, George Getze, © 1967, Reprinted with permission
NBC News Archives
New York Times Agency
Oddball Film & Video
Pennebaker Hegedus Films
Research Video Inc. and Stand-in Productions
Robert Charlton, Sixties Footage Collection
UCLA Film And Television Archive
AP/Wide World Photos
Baron Wolman Photography
Charles Moore, Black Star
California History Room, CA State Library, Sacramento, CA
Charles Gould Photography
The Originals, San Francisco, © 1967 By Irving Penn
Elaine Mayes Photography
Gene Anthony, Bill Graham Archives, LLC, Courtesy of Wolfgang's Vault
Jim Marshall Photography
Look Magazine, Library of Congress
Robert Altman Photography
Roz Payne Archives
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Oracle, Reprinted by Regent Press
Temple University Libraries, Urban Archives, Philadelphia, PA.
US Marine Corps, NARA, Public Domain
Music by B. Quincy Griffin, Courtesy of Random Cubes Music
Bay Area Television Archives
California Historical Society
Neil and Kalmon Dolgin
Leslie Donaldson, KTVU
Gary Fong, SF Chronicle
Susan Goldstein, SF Public Library
Maureen Hamilton, Library of Congress
Cydney Corl Hill, J. Paul Leonard Library, SFSU
Monaco Digital Film Labs
Pacific Film Archives
John Pettit, Temple University
Bill Sagan, Wolfgang's Vault
SF School of Digital Filmmaking
Susan Starr, Firelight Media
Mark Weiman, Regent Press
In Memory of:
Carmen Izquierdo de Franco
Sue Ellen McCann
Executive In Charge
Michael J. Isip
Director of New Media
Director of Marketing
Daphne B. Noyes
James E. Dunford
A Franco Dolgin Productions Film for American Experience in association with KQED
WGBH Educational Foundation
All Rights Reserved
Narrator: It was the largest migration of young people in the history of America. From every direction, they came. From the biggest cities and from the smallest towns. All bound for San Francisco in the summer of 1967.
Ron Thelin (archival): I think a hundred thousand is a minimum estimate of what's happening. I think it can be a major historical event for this country.
Stan McDaniels (archival): We are trying to do what no one else has ever done before in this culture, and that is to find a new way for humanity.
Peter Berg (archival): Minds are up for grabs. It's up for grabs. Civilization is up for grabs. I think everybody knows it.
Narrator: Drawn by the new hippie counterculture, with its vision of changing the world through peace and love, they arrived in numbers great enough to create a crisis in San Francisco, and threaten the utopian dream itself.
Kasper: There were people who were coming, who were just coming for the drugs, who weren't coming for, say, a spiritual awakening.
Peter Coyote: Kids were coming from all over the country. They were straining the infrastructure of the city. They were straining the resources. What could there be but trouble?
Gerrans: It got ugly. And the original people that went out there for peace and love left.
Narrator: Yet thousands would be swept up by a revolutionary movement that would shape American life far beyond that turbulent summer. January 14, 1967. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Never before had America witnessed such an unusual gathering. There was no line-up of big stars swelling the crowd, no tickets were sold, no political candidates spoke. It was simply a coming together. They called it a Gathering of the Tribes; a Human Be-In.
Mary Kasper: There were like 20,000 people, and it was this gloriously beautiful day, as you can only have in certain times in San Francisco. The sun was shining, people were wonderful. You know, it was like, my god, look at how many there are of us.
Narrator: To most of country, the Be-In must have seemed like a world turned upside down. A Harvard professor exhorted the crowd to reject the traditional path to success.
Timothy Leary (archival): Turn on, tune in, drop out. I mean drop out of high school, drop out of college, drop out of graduate school...
Narrator: Hindu chanting melded with motorcycles and rock music.
Coyote: It was such an exciting, heady time to find out that under the official reality there was this seething turmoil of young people, learning new music, new thoughts, new ideas, new literature, new poetry, new ways of being.
Narrator: This "turmoil of young people" was, in part, due to sheer numbers. Never before had so many Americans been under 25. There were over 90 million of them, nearly half the population. And many were disillusioned with the world around them. The president many had found inspiring had been assassinated barely three years earlier. War in Vietnam was killing a hundred American soldiers every week. Month after month dozens of young men were being drafted into the army. And the struggle for civil rights at home had grown increasingly militant. Those gathered in the park that sunny January day sought a different world.
Theodore Roszak, Writer: It would be a world where people live gently on the planet without the sense that they have to exploit nature or make war upon nature in order to find basic security. A simpler way of life, less urban, less consumption-oriented, much more concerned about spiritual values, about companionship, friendship, community, sharing ideas, values, insights. A world in which that was considered more important than the gross domestic product.
Narrator: The first hippies were children of the 1950s, the baby boom generation. Their parents had endured years of economic depression and a brutal World War. Now the future looked bright. Millions of Americans started families, encouraged by the unprecedented prosperity of the post-war economic boom.
Coyote: We came out of World War II as the richest, most powerful country on the planet and our families built the suburbs and the fathers went off to work and the mothers stayed home, and the kids were basically left to run around.
Narrator: The new standard of living in 1950s America offered an abundance of affordable homes, sleek new automobiles, miracle drugs. Science and technology seemed to have an answer for everything. But beneath the surface lurked a deep anxiety. Peacetime had devolved into a bitter Cold War between superpowers. Americans linked to communist groups were hounded and persecuted. An atomic arms race fueled fears of annihilation.
Roszak: That combination of affluence and anxiety is a crazy-making combination to live with, to grow up with. So, you had a generation of kids who arrived at high school and then in college, trying to make sense of a world which they've been told is just grand and wonderful, and there's nothing to complain about anymore. And on the other hand, you look a little deeper into it, and it's just awful and scary.
There was a deep issue here. Whether material affluence is what life is all about. Because that is what an industrial society, a market economy, can give you. But what if that's not good enough?
Narrator: It wasn't good enough for the so-called "beat generation." Who, starting in the late 1940s, congregated in the North Beach district of San Francisco, a city long known as a sanctuary for those outside the mainstream. The Beatniks, or Hipsters, rejected the conformity and materialism of 1950s America and embraced poetry and jazz, mysticism and marijuana.
Kasper: Even in my early years, I knew I wanted something different than the world I saw around me. I used to get on the bus and ride to North Beach and sit in the coffee houses and listen to people read poetry and listen to folk music and that was the first time I'd seen women who didn't have their hair done every week and who didn't wear girdles routinely.
Narrator: By the mid-1960s, as North Beach became commercialized, baby boomers drawn to a Bohemian lifestyle began moving into a low-rent neighborhood across town, the Haight-Ashbury district. They shared the Beatniks' disdain for corporate America and the politics of inequality and war. But they preferred the sunshine of nearby Golden Gate Park to the darkness of coffeehouses, the passion of rock-and-roll to the cool of modern jazz, wild, expressive colors to beatnik black.
They were derided by some as junior grade hipsters, "hippies" for short. Many began experimenting with communal living in the large Victorian houses of the Haight, and visions of a utopian society began taking shape, enhanced by a mind-altering new drug called LSD, or acid.
Joel Selvin: The LSD use was a fundamental building block in a new way of thinking in a new community.
Selvin: Why do we have war? What is the power of love? Who is God and why is he here and what has he done for me lately anyway? I mean, these were questions that were being debated by young people who were just growing into their bodies and their minds and their selves.
Kasper: We really thought that drugs were going to change the world. We really did. We thought if you turned on, if you took acid, you would really change, because we had changed from those experiences. Experiences of cosmic oneness, where I truly felt I was no different than you, I was no different than my black friends; I was no different than anyone who lived in any other part of the world, nor was I that different from my dog. God lived inside all of us is a clichŽd way of putting it.
Selvin: You were going through a door, and you wanted to be in the rooms on the other side of that door. You wanted to know what was there and you wanted to take that knowledge back with you.
Timothy Leary (archival): It is a sense of being in communion with powers greater than yourself and intelligence which far outstrips the human mind and energies which are very ancient. You have a sense of being brought in to God's workshop and that the veil is pulled away and for the first time you see how things really are.
Selvin: Hey, you know, we're trying to learn to live better, to think better, to be better human beings and be a better race, be a better civilization and to make this whole thing work.
Grateful Dead Member 1 (archival): What we're thinking about is a peaceful planet, we're not thinking of anything else. We're not thinking about any kind of power. We're not thinking about any of those kinds of struggles. We're not thinking about revolution or war or any of that. We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life, a simple life, a good life and think about moving the whole human race ahead a step.
Grateful Dead Member 2 (archival): And one of the ways of achieving that being is through drugs. I think personally, the more people that turn on, the better world it's going to be.
Joel Selvin: The music changed just immediately. I cannot explain to you what it's like to be in a crowd of 5,000 people on LSD with the Grateful Dead, also on LSD, leading the crowd through a series of improvisations. Before that, rock and roll songs were three minutes, period, paragraph, we're out of here.
Charles Perry: One of the peculiar things about LSD was that for a very long time it was legal. It seemed illegal. I mean, it was so wild, you figured that it, you know, if every, anybody hears about this, they're definitely going to make it illegal.
Ronald Reagan: Well, I'm terribly frightened by the problem of LSD. I think there's been a great deal of misinformation by those who seem to see no harm in it. I think our only hope lies in a concerted effort of education so that young people will be aware that there's nothing smart, there's nothing grown up or sophisticated in taking an LSD trip at all. They're just being complete fools.
Narrator: California did make LSD illegal on October 6, 1966. The hippies openly flaunted the new law with a "Love Pageant" rally in the Haight, and their own declaration of independence: "... the creation endows us with certain inalienable rights," it read, "that among these are the freedom of body, the pursuit of joy and the expansion of consciousness." On the heels of the Love Pageant, a group of anarchist street performers called the Diggers began distributing free food.
Digger describing free food program (archival): We're trying to start a pilot program here called the Digger feed-in. You go home, you cook whatever you can cook at your kitchen and you bring it out and you serve it to hungry people on the street, you know. And if everybody does it, we'll all have a ball.
Peter Berg: The street theater that we had been doing was now going to be acted out as an alternative society where food, shelter, entertainment was going to be free, without ideology.
Narrator: The Diggers salvaged food from restaurant and super-market overflow, prepared it in their communal kitchen, and brought it, twice a day, to the park.
Judy Goldhaft: I used to go to the wholesale produce markets, and get produce for the free food that we did. Unbelievable amounts of food were thrown away. I remember once there were crates and crates and crates and crates of cantaloupes that came in They didn't quite meet the standards for sweetness, and they couldn't be sold. They stood in back of the produce market. We came there twice a week. We picked up ten cases every time we came.
Narrator: For the Diggers, the free feed-ins also served to push people to examine their own values.
Berg: We were looking for the people driving by going to work who would see people gathered in the park eating food free and that this would provoke them, provoke their idea of what they were doing by going to work.
Coyote: We thought culture is much more important than politics. Let's just start getting people living the way they want to live. You want to live in a world where you don't have to work? Let's make it. You want to live in a world where you can get food for free? Let's make it. You want to live in a house with, you know, lots of women and men and live the way you want? Let's do it. Let's make the world that you imagine real by acting it out. And if you can act it out, it's real!
Narrator: In December, the Diggers dramatized another hippie belief: that the pursuit of money interfered with a fulfilling life. They staged a happening. They called it "The Death of Money."
Berg: People dressed in animal heads took money, huge pieces of money, stage money, and put them in and out of an enormous coffin in a march down Haight Street, singing, "Get out my life, why don't you, babe?" to Chopin's "Death March." And it went, "Get out my life, why don't you, babe?"
Kasper: We certainly, on some level, thought money was the root of all evil, and thought having a lot of money was not a good thing for your soul.
Coyote: We were not living without money because we had lots of it and it made it easy. We were living without money because we wanted our time and we wanted to be authentic and we didn't want to get jobs.
Narrator: The Be-In in January 1967 put San Francisco's hippies in the national spotlight for the first time. While Beatniks wanted the world to leave them alone, the New York Times said, "the new hippies want to change the world." Newsweek wrote of their "regimen of all-embracing love;" and "non-violent, mystical and bizarre." These stories of hippies resonated with young people across the country.
Sandi Stein: The Boston Globe had pictures of Haight Street, pictures of people dancing. And, I can remember saying, I thought, "Oh, look! Everybody looks so happy!" And I'm thinking, "Oh, I'd really like to go there.
Narrator: Sandi Stein was only 13, questioning and impressionable. She anguished over the grief that permeated her Boston neighborhood because of the Vietnam war.
Sandi Stein: When somebody was killed in Vietnam they would put a flag in the window. And there was not a block that you could walk in that working class, middle class neighborhood that you didn't see flags in the windows. And my home was full of fighting, arguing. And so, I think also, that those ideas of peace and love were wonderful. You know, that looked good.
Narrator: San Francisco looked good, too, to Claudia King. At 23, she was frustrated with the slow pace of civil rights gains she'd been working on since high school in Chicago.
Claudia King: Every time an idea or something came up, it would be okay, how are you going to fund this? Who's going to do this, who's going to do that? and I was young, you know, I wanted heaven now. I really believed that it should just change and we should all just smarten up and do better. I was really ready to go to the Haight-Ashbury.
Narrator: So was Phil Morningstar, a restless teenager living in a conservative town east of Los Angeles.
Phil Morningstar: It was a semi-rural area; kind of Southern California Bible Belt and I was reading the Berkeley Barb, the SF Oracle. And I was looking at all that stuff and they're talking about crash pads, free food, and my father was very in tolerant of any views that disagreed with him. So, at fourteen, I took a walk down to the Greyhound bus station, bought a bus ticket, next stop San Francisco.
Narrator: In March, hundreds of kids on spring break flooded into the Haight.
Perry: They heard by word-of-mouth. I mean, if you went to one of the great public events, like the rock dances, you would meet people, and they would say, "Hey man, you gotta come to the Haight, man, it's really beautiful there."
Coyote: Kids were looking at pictures of kids like them, sitting on the stoops, cuppin' a joint, looking around for the cops, and saying, "Holy cow! People are living free in San Francisco." And they came out here to invent whatever that meant to them.
Selvin: Everybody had a different entrance point. Some people came in because of the sexual liberation prospect. Some people came in because of the appeal of the music. Some people came in because they were angry and scared about the draft and the war. But once you were in that vortex, once you were in that swirling miasma of social and personal change, all the doors were open.
Narrator: For many longtime residents of Haight-Ashbury, the growing hippie community was unwelcome.
Gerrans: We had an influx of all people from all over the country. I mean, from all over the country. We'd stop 'em and find out they were from the Midwest, from back east, they wanted to come out experience what was going on in the Haight-Ashbury.
Narrator: Art Gerrans was born in the Haight and joined the San Francisco police department at age 22, assigned to Park Station.
Gerrans: It was kind of a quiet station, until the hippies came. The old-timers that lived out there didn't like it. They were used to having a nice, quiet neighborhood.
Virginia Snyder: Our neighborhood here was just really lovely. We could push our buggies and strollers down Haight Street. There were three or four bakeries, there was a candy shop, there was a Woolworth's I was annoyed with them for changing my neighborhood.
Narrator: By late March, Haight Street was already bursting with hippies and hippie wannabes. Many feared that when schools let out for the summer, San Francisco would erupt into chaos.
Jay Thelin: There were these headlines "HIPPIES WARN SAN FRANCISCO." Big print. "HIPPIES WARN SAN FRANCISCO" about all these kids coming. And then a couple days later, "MAYOR WARNS HIPPIES."
Mayor Jack Shelley (archival): The hippies seem to be a new way of life. That's their right. But they have no right to inflict their way of life on everybody else to the detriment and the exclusion of people continuing in their way and when they block the streets, then it is interference with the normal routine life of a community. It will be stopped.
Narrator: Hippie leaders were incredulous.
Steven Levine (archival): The mayor is ... This is really very insidious what he's up to he wants to stop human growth. He's trying to throw the seeds of this growth out of the sandbox, which is a presumption that it's his sandbox, and it isn't because it's a very cosmic sandbox, it just happens to be occurring here.
Man 1 (archival): I took a trip in December and I talked to a lot of kids in some other cities to see if they were coming out here. They said "I don't know, we've read the magazines and heard a lot of talk, but I don't know, you know. We've got a scene here. We're happy" You know, but as soon as the Mayor puts a taboo on the thing ...
Man 2 (archival): By telling them they're not welcome, he should have thought about it first.
Man 1 (archival): What he doesn't know is that we don't want them to come yet. This neighborhood is by no means prepared to handle that many people.
George Tsongas (archival): Haight-Ashbury can't handle a hundred thousand because there isn't room. The city of San Francisco can, the state of California can, everyone can. And if they open up their hearts, they can, and I say that welcome them.
News reporter (archival): The city of San Francisco has been warned of a hippie invasion come summer in numbers almost too staggering to comprehend. The park and recreation department has ruled that no longer will the hippies be allowed to sleep in Golden Gate Park. And Police Chief Thomas Cahill says the rule will be rigidly enforced.
Thomas Cahill (archival): If they come in and you have them in the park where there are no facilities for them, then you are going to have a health problem.
Reporter (archival): Chief, are you threatening to kick them out of San Francisco?
Cahill (archival): I never said a word about that but I will take whatever police action is necessary. And I'm not going to cross bridges until I come to them. And certainly, nobody should let their young children come into San Francisco unsupervised to become a part of a group such as that.
Willie Brown, State Assemblyman: The powers to be in the city wanted to erect a way in which no newcomers would be welcome to the Haight-Ashbury. There was the assumption that this was an absolute drug-out culture; this was a place where all of the so-called family values were challenged. I was just absolutely blown away by how distant what the Supes and the Mayor were attempting to do was from my understanding of a democracy.
Selvin: The white middle-class establishment starts reacting to this movement with anger and vehemence. And they move to repress this thing and shut it down, acting just like we thought they would.
Narrator: The clash of cultures reverberated throughout the city.
Joe Dolan Radio Show (archival): Now, certainly these shaggies and hippies with their talk about peace and brotherhood and understanding and international amity, all this ridiculous nonsense. Naturally, the newspapers are going to play up the things they say, especially when these people bang tambourines and, like Allen Ginsberg, go into these absurd chants, these Hindu chants. Well, naturally they're going to play this sort of thing up. It would be absurd to expect that they're not going to do this.
Art Gerrans: Where I grew up, my neighborhood were mostly Irish and Italian kids, and, you know, we'd go to church together. But we had work ethics, and, mostly blue collar workers and you learned from your mother and your father about, you know, going to work and being responsible and doing the right thing. Where these kids here, they don't want to work. They wanted to fall out. They don't want to work, they don't want responsibility. They want nobody tell them what to do. They wanted to have sex, they wanted to have dope, and just sightsee and go in the park and get stoned and they were sort of wasting their life. They weren't going nowhere.
Reporter (archival): Why don't you like the hippies around here?
Ruth McCalister (archival): I don't like their morals. I don't like the example they're setting for younger people. I don't like being pushed off the street, walking in their filth on the streets. I don't like to look at them. I don't like the sound of their voices and their filthy words they use. I don't like their filthy posters. I just don't like them.
Narrator: Soon a sight-seeing company began running a bus down Haight Street, calling it the only foreign tour in the domestic United States.
Bus driver (archival): The hippies take many trips, and the trip of the hippies is generally an unusual one. A world about themselves and of themselves. And marijuana, of course, with LSD, is being used.
Narrator: Tourists were even provided with definitions of hippie slang.
Passenger: TEENIE BOPPER is a hippie in early teens. SPEED, combination of heroin and methedrine. STONED, high, as on LSD. STRAIGHT, square, conventional. TRIP is an LSD experience. TURN ON is to commence a far out experience as to turn on with LSD. WEED is marijuana.
Bus driver: We've seen the better and the worse of the Haight-Ashbury district and now, back into Golden Gate Park and our next stop will be the Japanese Tea Garden.
Narrator: In April, the hippies sought to ease growing tensions in the city, presenting an optimistic vision of the coming summer to the local media.
Ron Thelin at press conference (archival): The Haight-Ashbury community has created a council for a Summer of Love in San Francisco. Within the Haight-Ashbury population, there are many strata of imaginative and creative energies whose spirit extends throughout San Francisco and the world. The people here today represent ...
Stan McDaniels (archival): Our purpose is to provide an atmosphere which is more healthy than the kind of atmosphere that the city government and the newspapers have tended put out about the influx of young people to the city. And, see, we don't believe the young people who are coming here are the sort of thing that has been associated with vagrants. In fact, we believe in them. We believe that they're here, as a matter of fact, for a spiritual purpose.
Kid with Levine (archival): They're going to be bringing a lot of energy with them, a lot of enthusiasm. And they're going to be doing creative things and providing for themselves.
Levine (archival): The coming in is going to cause difficulty and might cause turmoil and might cause very real frictions but the important thing is they're going to all go back to their towns and when they do they're going to turn on everybody and this thing is going to be all over the country.
Charles Perry: By the time the beginnings of the flood were becoming obvious in the late spring, the Oracle was telling people, "Please don't come. Please stay home and do hippie things in your hometown. I mean, we're going to be out of dope. There's going to be food shortage. There's not going to be a place to stay."
Narrator: The anticipated summer onslaught was becoming a national story. In late May, Look Magazine sent a young writer to live undercover as a hippie in the Haight.
W. M. Hedgepeth, Writer: Before I had got the assignment, I had just paid peripheral attention to the hippie movement. I was just a straight-looking person, who happened to wear an eye patch as a result of an automobile accident. And wore a tie, suit, that kind of thing. But then after that, after Haight-Ashbury, I decided what in the world I want to wear a tie for again.
Narrator: Within hours of his arrival on Haight Street, William Hedgepeth had been offered free food, clothing, shelter and LSD.
Hedgepeth: It would have been completely phony to go out there and then be a total spy and just report on these people. I mean, there was just no sense in that. You know, I mean, this is participatory journalism, you know. It's a dirty job, somebody's got to do it. So, I figured that I was taking these drugs on behalf of the American people, in order to tell them the truth. It seemed to me then that the new phenomenon of hippies was part of a religious movement. They were completely sympathetic and loving, in fact, toward others. They handed out flowers to tourists and naysayers, and people who demeaned them. I was so entranced with it that I thought, well, this is a perfectly good alternative universe to me. I mean, you don't need money, you know, don't need anything. I can, I could stay here if I wanted to. It was as benign an expression of the finer angels of people's nature than I have ever seen before.
Narrator: In June, a siren song on top-40 radio reached into every corner of America, beckoning the young and the curious to join the pilgrimage.
Charles Perry: And that was the vision. There was, you know, every day, you saw scores and scores of people, maybe hundreds of people showing up, just gaping that this was the great place. And this was where they were going to be.
Berg: We were being delivered an audience by people coming to San Francisco, so we welcomed it. We encouraged it. We saw it as a staging area for transforming society.
Sandi Stein: In June, I went out my window, ran away from home. I had two pairs of pants and a couple of T-shirts and I think I stole $20 from my mother. Went into Boston and a friend of mine walked up to me and said, "Hey! There's a guy with a convertible that wants to go to San Francisco, and he wants some people to go with him. You wanna go?" And I said, "Yes. You bet." There was a whole generation moving and this great sea of youth moving across the country. There were hippie way stations, you know, that were full of people like us, you know, doing similar things.
Narrator: At dawn on June 21, the official beginning of the Summer of Love, several hundred hippies gathered on a hilltop near the Haight to celebrate the Summer Solstice. It was an affirmation of their connection to the natural world -- a connection that was becoming harder to maintain as the Haight-Ashbury population swelled. In fact, many of the original hippies had already begun to flee the city for communes in the countryside or to pursue a spiritual quest. But with schools now out for the summer, young acolytes and thrill-seekers continued to swarm into San Francisco. After hitchhiking across the country, Sandi Stein was finally dropped off on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.
Sandi Stein: It was like arriving in Wonderland. Like, you pushed on the mirror, you know, like Alice pushing, pushing, pushing on the mirror and then finally you come through.
Claudia King: Everybody was talking this love, peace, you know, racism was supposed to be really unhip. I mean there's all these things that were, you know, not acceptable for a few minutes, you know? It was just the little short time, but it was really just like something that shimmered,
Phil Morningstar: I kind went crazy when I went there. You could go in Golden Gate Park and sit up on Hippie Hill and meet a group of people, say hi, and just start smoking with them and the next thing you're at their place, partying with them, and you're sleeping with one of the girls. It was great!
Claudia King: You might see people making love on the street corner and have to walk around them and say "Hmm, hmm." It was just, I mean, it was out there!
Sandi Stein: I heard a voice behind me say, you're going to need some shoes. And probably a coat." I said, "I don't know where I'm going to get one." She said, "Well, I do." And, she stood up and she said, "My name is Angel." And I said, "I'm Sandy." And, she said, "We need to go over to the Free Store." What in the world is a free store?
Selvin: The Free Store, what fun that was. I mean, just the idea was liberating, a place where they gave you things where money was no longer the relevant issue.
Goldhaft: At that time, people didn't have garage sales. People, if they moved -- and people moved around a lot -- didn't have anything to do with their stuff. When we opened up a free store and said, "Okay, bring your stuff here and we'll redistribute it for you." Everything came into the Free Store. Everything.
Narrator: By July, the great mass of young people had reached staggering proportions. Estimates ranged from 50 to over 100 thousand. Gawking tourists only added to the congestion.
Tourist 1 (archival): I've heard about this place. I'm from Southern California and enjoying seeing what I've read about. They're literally hundreds of these fellows; bearded, and girls that are dressed eccentrically. And cars with flowers painted on them. It's really just out of this world
Tourist 2 (archival): We drove up and down the street and then I said let's get out and really get a good look at them.
Hippie (archival): The last two months or so, the newspapers and the television stations and all sorts of people have been writing various articles about the hippies as if they were animals, something to look at. Thus, we've gotten hundreds and literally thousands of people coming up to Haight-Ashbury to watch people. But people here are human, they want to be talked to, they don't want to be watched. And the irritation, the frustration, the friction that builds up because of this make Haight-Ashbury a terribly unpleasant place to be in.
Narrator: The Haight had become a circus, a caricature of its idealistic beginnings. Shops now catered to souvenir-hungry tourists and "weekend hippies." College kids with no intention of "dropping out" took on hippie personas for the summer. Hundreds of young runaways wandered the streets aimlessly. For many, the capitol of the counterculture no longer seemed a shimmering wonderland.
Hedgepeth: This strain of mysticism and utopianism can only work in small groups. You can't really have 50,000 people living like they were in Haight-Ashbury.
Kasper: Things were getting tougher, the attitudes were getting tougher. There were people who were coming, who were just coming for the drugs, who weren't coming for, say, a spiritual awakening or for a sense of community, or to be part of something bigger than themselves. If the Be-in was the bringing together of all that energy from the previous years, it was the high point and the Summer of Love was the beginning of the end.
Narrator: William Hedgepeth's article for Look came out in August. He reflected on the "finer angels" he'd witnessed. "Hippies are working toward an open, loving, tension-free, nature-oriented world," he wrote. But he also told of a darker side, of spending the night in a "filthy, litter-strewn dope fortress," with "half-a-dozen hippies lying in various stages of drug stupor."
Hedgepeth: I happened to be there at a time when it was just past the major blossoming People were talking about the fact that the Haight just isn't like it used to be.
Sandi Stein: I was really part of a vagrant street crowd. And most of those people that were on the streets were under 17. They were my age. You know, people thought of college students. They didn't realize how many young children, 13, 14, 15, 16, were out there.
Reporter (archival): What do you think they've got here that makes you want to come here?
Girl #1(archival): Freedom. You can be what you are.
Reporter (archival): Freedom to what?
Girl #2 (archival): To love!
Girl #1 (archival): You can be yourself. You don't have to be what adults want you to be. And everything like that.
Reporter (archival): What do you want to do here that your parents wouldn't want you to do?
Girl #1 (archival): Nothing!
Willie Brown: For many of them, they didn't find what they thought was the magic, and their resources expired, and they disappeared. They decided not to go the route that so many kids did go by staying without resources.
Virginia Snyder: I used to volunteer at our rectory on Masonic, and they would come, filthy, filthy, dirty. They were sleeping in the park, sleeping here or there. I can remember going to Park Police Station one time with a group, and the entire wall were snap shots of runaway children from all over.
Reporter (archival): Sandra, your father says you've run away from home three times and you've been gone now for some time.
Sandra, runaway (archival): Yes
Reporter (archival): But you say you're not.
Sandra, runaway (archival): No I'm not. I don't consider myself a runaway at all.
Reporter (archival): Where did you spend last night?
Sandra, runaway (archival): That's none of anybody's business. And I won't tell. I won't tell where I've been for the past two weeks. Ever.
Reporter (archival): How old are you Sandra?
Sandra, Runaway (archival): Fourteen.
Jay Thelin: Periodically, paddy wagons would drive down Haight Street, and the officers on the sidewalk would just go in and grab kids out of restaurants and, if you didn't have an I.D. or even if you did, you went in the paddy wagon and you went to Park Station.
Police officer (archival): Let me see your identification again.
Gerrans: And we would have to book them in youth guidance center, and the parents would have to come from wherever they were in the country, the Midwest or the East, they would have to come back out and recover their children.
Police officer (archival): You're not 18, I can tell you that. I raised a girl myself and I know that you're not 18.
Runaway (archival): I don't care.
Police officer (archival): Come on in here.
Hedgepeth: Many of them just simply didn't know how to take care of themselves. And they would go barefoot on the street and get infections and whatnot. And they didn't -- they couldn't feed themselves right.
Narrator: The Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, established at the beginning of summer by a group of young doctors, treated dozens of kids every day, kids suffering from malnutrition or hepatitis or drug overdoses.
Person at Free Clinic (archival): Today we went down to the city clinic and we talked to the people down there about the venereal disease that's spreading throughout the Haight-Ashbury.
Narrator: The Diggers offered new arrivals a "survival school," teaching how to get decent nutrition, how to find a clean place to stay, how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
Person at Free Clinic (archival): Anyone who wants to come down shouldn't be afraid to come for a check up. Or if they think they have this disease to go down there right away to get it fixed.
Narrator: LSD, the revered sacrament of the original hippies, was becoming a source of grave concern as more and more people experienced frightening bad trips.
Kasper: There were runaways taking drugs who really didn't have the ego structure to deal with it. When you deconstruct your world, as many of us did with the stronger psychedelics, you have to build it back up again. And for some people they simply couldn't build it back up again and got stuck in a very painful place and couldn't see their way out of it.
Gerrans: We got a call of a woman screaming for help, so we pushed the door open, and we see this naked woman slithering around on the floor like a snake. We [went in.] She jumps up and runs and she goes down to the back of the house and we were behind her. She's totally naked, she jumps up on a bed, like it was a springboard, hits the bed, and goes head first into the window.
Narrator: Drug dealers took advantage of susceptible young kids and began pushing highly addictive drugs like speed, cocaine and heroin.
Kasper: The psychedelic movement was dying out and these other drugs really hit the scene. It created paranoia in people. People didn't take care of their bodies.
Claudia King: I started noticing garbage on the street and people's expressions, wrinkled brows and cold sores. And little kids not looking like they were being taken care of or loved very well.
Selvin: These initial charming, innocent steps forward had changed, like the Diggers free soup. I had Diggers' soup. It was fun, it was neat. You go and get a bowl of soup, eat with some people you don't know and be amongst all this new community. That was fun. The next time I went back, man, those people waiting in line for that soup needed it. I didn't stay. Cause now it was squalid. The utopian moment had been and gone.
Narrator: By fall of 1967, crowds in Haight-Asbury had thinned dramatically. Many of the summertime pilgrims had returned home, and there were few new arrivals. On October 6, exactly one year after the Love Pageant Rally, a group of hippies still living in the Haight closed the curtain on the Summer of Love. They staged a mock funeral, calling it "the Death of Hippie."
Kasper: We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, don't come out. Stay where you are! Bring the revolution to where you live. Don't come here because it's over and done with.
Narrator: Within a year, Haight Street was lined with vacant storefronts. The Summer of Love had been but a fleeting moment in the turbulent history of the 1960s. But it changed the lives of thousands who witnessed it firsthand, and impacted America in ways that still endure.
Roszak: I don't think the Summer of Love left any blueprints behind on how to build a better world. It was much more a showcase for, enjoyment, for happiness, for freedom. But if you probe to the underlying values you can perhaps see the seeds of a better social order than the one we're living in now.
Coyote: It was an experiment but I don't think that the search for some kind of moral stance is ever [expletive]. I don't think that the search for justice and some kind of economic equity is ever [expletive]. I don't think that trying to leave a smaller footprint on the planet is [expletive]. I don't think exploring alternative spiritual and medical practices is [expletive]. They were all valid searches and they've all been completely integrated into the culture today.
Kasper: Many of those things from that time have stayed with me. Certainly, the importance of community has stayed with me. I thought we could change the world, and I thought we would make it a better place. And I think in some ways we succeeded.
Hedgepeth: Well, when it came time for me to leave and I got into a cab on Haight Street. And this one guy who was bidding me farewell said, "I'll tell you what I'll do. You know, I'll write to you. Look, I'll send you an envelope. There won't be anything in the envelope, but I'll soak the stamp in LSD. So you, when you get this, just lick the stamp and turn on." And we were -- the cab started moving down Haight Street, and this guy was still yelling, "Lick the stamp, turn on!"