Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dressing Down the Decades
1960 - 1968

I Never Wore Tie Dye

I was a hippy. Started with my custom made sandals. And then, I let my hair grow for seven years and wore dark clothes. One outfit was a burlap skirt with a satin blouse. You should have seen my step-father's reaction to that one. Even better when I smoked my cherry wood pipe! He didn't want me to smoke it in the house, but if I went out on the porch the neighbors could see me. I would go back to Berkeley with my throat and mouth sore, and not touch the thing until I visited my parents again.

Lots of black and gray, charcoal and navy. Actually, I sort of came in on the end of the beatniks and the beginning of the hippies. See the madras bedspread used for a curtain and the wine skin hanging from the light pole. Smoked grass and some hash, ate peyote buttons, dropped out of college to live in an attic and write the great American novel (didn't do either), read my poetry at coffee houses, drank lattes before anyone else had heard of them, hung out with other young people who had artistic leanings, enjoyed myself completely. Stopped wearing the girdles all girls and women wore in those days. Considered moving to a commune. Lived in San Francisco near the Haight Ashbury.

Did sound effects for a friend who did radio plays. Went to museums and plays and concerts and book stores. Took part in some early protest marches. Attended three IWW spaghetti feeds, but that got too sad when there were 12 people there talking about how things were going to be after the revolution. When they didn't serve food, they pulled in the five faithful -- two of whom were rumored to be FBI agents.

One day Ken Kesey walked in as I was cooking for a group and ate what was supposed to be my breakfast. (By which I mean he not only ate the food I'd cooked for myself, but also the last food in the house.) His girlfriend read tarot. Another time I chased Neil Cassidy out of my house with a broom because he was putting the moves on my roommate, who was living with me while her husband was in jail.

1965 - 1968
Back to College

Julie was three weeks old and Richard two years and my divorce was still fresh when I returned to UC Berkeley. When I was registering, they tried to tell me that although I was 25, I needed my parents' permission to live off campus. I wasn't going for permission to do a damned thing, so I smiled and agreed that I would be glad to bring my baby and my toddler and live in campus housing. Amazing how suddenly I didn't need anyone's permission.

My Aunt Florence was newly widowed and returned to University of the Pacific at the same time. She had to get the dean's permission to live off campus although she was 43 and she only got it, as a single woman, because she owned a house within a mile of the campus. One day she was in the grocery store, wearing grey wool slacks and a white cotton blouse, and the dean of women came up to her and explained that if she was seen in town again in slacks she would be expelled. Mini-skirts would not have been allowed at UoP!

Mini Skirts

It's hard to believe that institutions had that much control of grown women, but they did. The mini-skirt felt like a rebellion against that, and although they were really sexy, many of us wore them as a badge of autonomy.

My favorite outfit was gray suede mini and vest and boots and hat (with a black feather) worn with black tights and turtle neck and three sets of silver chains. (Still have the chains. Still wear them with gray and/or black.) I looked like nothing so much as a mod Maid Marion, and would have done so even more if I had ever been able to afford the cape that completed the outfit. I think I identified very much with Mrs. Emma Peel when wearing a mini, and that was a good place to be while working free of the patriarchy.

4 comments:

Tabor said...

That first picture of you appears so incongruous to your free-spirited life -style as that little girl looks so prim and proper. I thought I had posted about my adventure in wearing slacks to school on the last day of high school and the uproar that caused. Can't find the entry and so maybe I will have to repeat it someday!

Betty said...

Ah, those were the good old days!

donna said...

I was in eighth grade when they let us wear pants for the first time to school - I hardly ever wore a dress again to school after that!

High school was all jeans and t-shirts. College was short-shorts and halter tops - mostly just to distract the guys in my engineering classes so I could get the top grades.... ;^)

Hey, so what's peyote like, anyway? ;^)

saz said...

Brings back bad memories of my first job and the dress code - no slacks!

It's a time warp looking at the pictures - I swear some of this stuff is back in style.