As Tracy Swartz observes in an accompanying piece, young people draw a blank on the 1967 crystallization of hippie culture known as the Summer of Love. But even veterans of the counterculture might not easily flash back to these 40 -year-old facts:
1. The Summer of Love started in the winter. An acknowledged jumping-off point was the Human Be-In at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, which attracted about 35,000 people in January 1967 and featured a speech by LSD guru Timothy Leary. According to Leary, philosopher Marshall McLuhan urged him to invent a catchy slogan, and as an example, McLuhan offered a jingle: "Lysergic acid hits the spot / Forty billion neurons, that's a lot." Later, while in the shower, Leary came up with his own motto to deliver at the Be-In: "Turn on, tune in, drop out."
2. In 1967, artists, musicians such as Joan Baez and tens of thousands of young people descended on San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, named for the intersecting streets of Haight and Ashbury. The area was perfect for communal living because of its Victorian rooming houses, originally built for Irish workers.
3. A classified ad in the San Francisco Oracle newspaper offered "Hippi-Kits" that included "flowers, bells, flute, headbands, incense, feathers" for $4.50.
4. A young woman called Mountain Girl lived in Haight-Ashbury with her boyfriend, Jerry Garcia, and his band, the Grateful Dead. She later married him and was known as Carolyn Garcia. Recalling 1967, she told the San Francisco Chronicle recently: "It was sort of like a farmer unloading a truckload of onions -- once the onions start to move, there's no stopping them. That's kind of how it felt, that the streets were just filling up with people, vegetables yearning to be free."
5. When the summer of 1967 began, LSD had been illegal in California for only eight months.
6. The musical event of the summer -- and a model for rock concerts ever since -- was the Monterey International Pop Festival near San Francisco, featuring the Grateful Dead, the Animals, Simon and Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. After the Dead played, its roadies made off with some of the festival's Fender amps, using them for free "guerrilla concerts" in Golden Gate Park before returning them a month later.
7. The anthem of the Summer of Love, "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," promoted an outlook that was mellow and peaceful, but the song's creation was anything but. John Phillips wrote the tune for his friend, Scott McKenzie, instead of giving it to his own group, The Mamas and the Papas, which infuriated executives at his record label. The drug-using Phillips played guitar on the recording but later wrote that it was difficult "because I was speeding my brains out."
8. An article by Times of London critic Kenneth Tynan referred to "a decisive moment in the history of Western civilization." Was he talking about Gutenberg's breakthrough in printing? The discovery of penicillin? No, the June 1967 release of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the perfect theme music for a psychedelic summer.
9. It took a letter from the Beatles to persuade actress Mae West to let her picture be used on the "Sgt. Pepper's" album cover. At first, West refused, saying, "What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?"
10. During the Summer of Love, the uptight but curious could take an antiseptic tour of Haight-Ashbury from inside a Gray Line bus. It was called the "Hippie Hop." Flower children reacted by holding up mirrors at the gawkers. But eventually, the use of methamphetamines and other drugs fueled a crime wave and ugly street scenes. As the summer faded, many of the hippie elite picked up and moved across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County.
Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, Monterey County Herald, "Papa John" by John Phillips, "Timothy Leary: A Biography" by Robert Greenfield
Mark Jacob is the Tribune's foreign/national news editor.