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Dispatches from the late, great Haight

How I Got There in the First Place

The lowest SAT math score in the city of Portland, Oregon for 1964 turned out to be my ticket south. After high school I had desperately wanted to join the east coast smarties at Reed College. I tested well for language skills, but forget about the numbers game: alien territory for this beautiful mind. But you’ve got to cover that part of the scholastic equation too. I was heartbroken and after we figured we couldn’t afford Bard, which had, for some reason, deemed me okay for simple admittance, read: okay, but no money, buddy, it was my blessed parents who suggested San Francisco State College.

San Francisco was not unknown territory. I had been hitchhiking back and forth with various friends since I was 14 searching for beatniks and romance. Of course, the road was a lot safer then, although my best friend Bill Adie and I almost got done in, or at least molested, by some strange country dude who started to look like a salivating wolf after we had driven a few miles. Bill had the sense to ask to stop for a pee at a roadside gas station (there was no freeway in those days) and we never got back in his battered black ’56 Chevy. He just looked at us menacingly and roared off, but not before saying he would be back with some “friends.” We hid in a field until nightfall and caught another ride. Being lusty young men at the time, we thought about getting it on with some nearby cows–we’d both read the e. e. cumming’s instructional poem–but they looked awfully big up close and we had no stool.