Story From Pat Miller

By Pat Miller

I enjoy memories of Santa Cruz in the 1960s and ’70s, especially of the hippies and of the social activists.

The City on a Hill May edition focused on activism on the campus from 1960 to the present. I emailed a letter to the editors about my memories of the 60s and 70s. I am forwarding it to you. I especially wrote about the draft because it is possible that the next president may want to reinstate the draft. I hope that there are many UCSC students who are aware of this. What percentage of the students 18 years and over have obeyed the law to register their bodies for possible use by the United States government?

I enjoy my memories of hip Santa Cruz. The Catalyst was a pleasant place. I walked by there awhile back. It was sad to see the exterior, a run down, dead flies on the window sill kind of place now. I know there is still successful entertainment there so the interior is okay. I have read that it and adjoining buildings are probably going to be demolished as development builds new structures, maybe three or four stories high, and Santa Cruz is urbanized more and more.

Besides memories of the Catalyst since its beginnings in the old St.George Hotel’s large entry way and enjoying it for many years I have good memories of The Barn Because I didn’t smoke pot I was the designated driver with my friends when we went there to see and hear Janis Joplin. We were not hippies. We were housewives, mothers of school children. We weren’t “slumming”. We liked the music. Janis Joplin the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, etc. we were left wing Democrats opposed to war, for civil liberties, etc.

My friends and I also often went to Vic Jowers Sticky Wicket. When Manny Santana opened his restaurant we went there. Good food, good music, good art. Our crowd were the very liberal democrats involved in politics and social action. Manny and Alice worked with the farm workers and when Manny opened Jardines de San Juan he had a space for the Teatro Campesino.

One time our social action group hosted a peace walk that was going from Southern California to Mare Island. One of the group staying at our home Said we were rich hippies. We were neither rich nor hippies.

When Richard Miller was running in the primary to be the candidate for congress we were opposing the establishment Democrats. We had a fund raising concert featuring the Jefferson airplane. Dick Smith, a Felton dentist, produced a light show. It was considered a dangerous psychedelic thing by the upstanding citizens.

The Fire Marshal tried to stop the concert, claiming there were too many people. But we had some respectable and influential citizens in our group who were friends of the police chief. So we were allowed to have the concert. Our candidate, Dr. Richard Miller, was a history professor at San Francisco Art Institute and had many students supporting him and producing posters.

I have a happy memory of the time Peter Demma had the balcony above the entrance to his Hip Pocket Book Store use to unveil Ron Boise’s sculpture of a man and woman. The mayor, Norm Lezin, gave a welcoming talk to a big crowd of hippies, social activists, art lovers, etc. the sculptures were open works made of strips of scrap metal. They were declared obscene nudes by the Mothers for Morality although want they saw in a collection of metal strips needed an imagination.

The Mothers for Morality formed to fight such art. Their leader said that sins made dents in the brain. Even naughty little babies who threw their food off their high chairs onto the floor would get dents in their brains. The dents would be there in sinners brains until Jesus came and washed them away.

There was another event involving Art and the Kama Sutra that resulted in an obscenity charge. The ACLU helped resolve it. Art, hippies, social activists, and left wing politics were those hippy days.

The Catalyst, the Sticky Wicket, and Manuel’s Restaurant were gathering places for the left wing Democrats and supporters of various causes to get together to plan and to get together after events and elections.

Another pleasant memory is Don McCaslin and Warmth playing music in front of the old Cooper House with an occasional appearance of the rainbow lady dancing.

Don produced a version of Lord Buckley’s “The Naz”. Lord Buckley taught us hipstamatic.