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Falling In Love in The Summer Of Love

July 30th, 2017 · 39 Comments · Grateful Dead, Kerouac and The Beats, Merry Pranksters, Weird Things About Me

Falling in Love in the Summer of Love

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Yeah — it can still happen.  To anyone anywhere anytime.  Me mid-50s, she just over 40.

We’d met a year earlier at a Prankster Family Reunion.  I thought she was stunning.  But she had this boyfriend.  It was one of those couples that didn’t seem to make sense.  You’ve known some.  They seem more like opposites than a pair.  But you never know, cuz you’re not there.

She bought my book and read it non-stop in one day at a music festival.

People around her were protecting her.  “Don’t bug Sky, she’s reading.”

I didn’t really know much about her.  Just that she was cool and pretty, with long wavy hair, and really liked my book.

By the next family reunion (this year) there she was again, and so was the boyfriend, except they sure didn’t seem to be very together.  Don’t think I ever saw them within touching distance of each other the whole weekend.  But still — I’m not a guy on the make.  Not chasin chicks.  I’m married to my work, and happily so.  In fact so much so, I can sometimes be blind to overtures.

Next thing you know, it’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.  San Francisco.  Gotta be there.  In fact, I get booked for a show at the world famous Beat Museum in North Beach — on the first Friday in June leading into the historic summer — and the night preceding two Dead shows at nearby Shoreline Amphitheatre, which I’ve always wanted to go to since first hearing it was being built with Bill Graham as a major consultant.

At that same Prankster Family Reunion this May, I’d fallen in with a new stage partner.  Never had one before in my life.  A duo!  George Walker.  Original Merry Prankster.  A guy who was not only “on the bus” but on The Bus on their historic ’64 cross-country trip with Neal Cassady at the wheel.  George & Neal ended up becoming fast friends and did many road trips just the two of them, including down to Mexico multiple times, where they’d spend months living together carousing and Adventuring.

He was a big fan of my writing, but had never seen me on a stage before.  I’ve opened the last couple of these Prankster Reunions — delivering the keynote address, the mood-setter, the vibe overture, all with a healthy Beat flavor.  After this year’s opening show, we were hanging, and he was raving about my performance, so I said, knowing his closeness with Neal, “We should do something together — like, you read Neal and I’ll read Jack.  We could do that part from On The Road where they’re sitting in the back of the car talking about the ‘IT’.”  And his face lit, eyes bright, head nodding, “Yes yes yes!”

“We’d just need two copies of the book . . . “

That night I grabbed the one I had and started reading the “IT” passage, making performance notes in the margins — when it hit — “You’ve gotta go photocopy these pages and blow them up so you can write all over them and give George his own copy.”  And that’s what I did the next morning.  And when he & I sat down to go over it 15 minutes before showtime — he hadn’t read this part of On The Road in 20 or 30 years — he absolutely was Neal from the first freakin line on a cold read-through!

Needless to say, we killed.

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And since it’d gone so well, he said he’d join me on stage at The Beat Museum.  “We’ll bring Jack & Neal home.”

So a whole bunch of Pranksters came to S.F. that first June weekend, including Mountain Girl and Anonymous sitting in the front row — and more people packed in there for any event the Beat Museum ever put on [other than a memorial].

And a bunch of the Prankster girls were so excited about their Night At The Museum that they got themselves all dressed up extra pretty.

And boy did they look great!  Especially Sky!

Pre-show / pre-couple photo captured by our brother Gubba.

The show killed of course . . .

then we all went over to the secret hideaway alleyway bar, Spec’s, right around the corner from the museum . . .

and had a spectacular after-party until closing time.

Sky had also brought for me some tie-dyed pants and shirt she’d custom colored for me.

See . . . sometimes I’m clueless.

Anywho, the next day, the Shoreline Dead show, I wore them, and her and her Prankster sisters spotted me from about a football field away as soon as we got out of the car, and came running across the tarmac like Charlie’s Angels playing out the comic classic TV/movie running scene.

There was this huge party in the parking lot for hours before the show, a bunch of us ending up at Kesey’s Bus for all sorts of hugging reunions and crazy shenanigans non-stop all afternoon . . .

And we sat together at the show . . . her, me & George already becoming a somewhat inseparable trio.

It was a Grate show, of course . . . a Friend of The Devil … China Cat … Eyes … Wheel . . .

Then we all retired back to the Red Vic, this artists’ hostel right on Haight St. near Golden Gate Park, where a bunch of the Pranksters including Sky were staying.

It was your regular post-show dosey-doe mayhem — including a twisted game of Twister — but I had to get home cuz tomorrow at the crack of noon we were all meeting at the corner of Haight & Ashbury for a parade to Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park to celebrate the Summer of Love.

I went out on the street, but there wasn’t a car to be seen let alone a cab in the 3AM darkness.  (Plus, my Canadian cell phone to call one didn’t work in America – long story.)  Sky saw me through the windows pacing back and forth along the sidewalk, and thought, “Oh no, he’s looking to leave.”  If a cab had appeared, or my phone worked, none of the rest of this story would have happened.

It was starting to seem like I was stuck there, and I had to be a couple blocks down the street in 9 hours, so, I knew Sky was staying in a group room with four people, but I asked her anyway if I could crash over beside her.  And she said, “Yeah, I think I can squeeze you in.”

We eventually hit the room, and her space was up on this large raised loft bed, with everyone else below.  I followed her up the ladder, and the second we were beside each other we started kissing — slow and soft and delicate at first but quickly the latent feelings we each had for the other became obvious.  This wasn’t some random convenient hook-up.  I was kissing her neck and jawline and she was shuddering to the touch — two people who’d been longing to be in each other’s arms for a long time.  There was definitely something.  “The Unspoken Thing” . . . no explanation needed.

We did what couples do . . . even with at least four people in some level of sleep (or trying to) just below us.

The next day, we went to the noon Summer of Love parade / march — this huge group of assembled hippies and pranksters walking out into the middle of Haight Street and stopping the traffic, creating an impromptu protest parade right down the middle of the street leading all the way to the park just like they did in this neighborhood 50 years ago.

On the way we bumped into sister Jami Cassady and her hubby Randy and the Kerouac biographer Gerry Nicosia, so they all fell in with us, and suddenly we had one of my favorite things — a bunch of Beats and Pranksters in the same place!

Then, the funny thing was — and this is an important part of this story — I’m an idiot.  We get to the afternoon hang spot at the base of Hippie Hill, and Sky and I are holding hands and generally entwining our bodies as we lay in the grass while people read poetry or sang or riffed in a very organic authentic Beat/hippie scene.  And Jami notices us, so when we got a moment alone, asked in her big sister way, “Soooo . . . what’s this?!” with a big smiling teasing Prankster twinkle.

We didn’t get too much one-on-one time cuz it was a multitudinous crazy scene of all-star San Franciscans running amuck in the Summer of Luck, so when her & Randy were leaving, I walked them part-way out of the park, and along the way told them my dilemma that Sky was going to the second Dead show tonight, which I didn’t have a ticket for and didn’t really wanna go to [see “idiot” above] and I asked what they thought I should do.  Jami encouraged me, but Randy got positively bug-eyed surprised that I’d be asking the question.  “With that girl?!  I’d go!!” he said, nodding in an are-you-crazy? way.

I dunno — sometimes in life you have to hear somebody tell you something even if you already know it.

Like the no cab on Haight — I wonder how life would be different if I didn’t get this bit of coaching right when I needed it?  

Before we left the park I’d bought a ticket.

It was another Grate show, of course, with a Help —> Slip —> Frank —> Scarlet —> Fire —> Drums —> Other One — but as the magic continued to unfold — in the first set they dropped a They Love Each Other!

I mean — we already knew we liked each other, but just like hearing the coach’s voice articulating my reality a few hours earlier, here was the band unmistakably singing our theme-song to us, putting into words our sentiments before we had.

And we’re dancing side-by-side in perfect swaying synch, with particular knowing eye contact on “Lord, you can see that it’s true.”  And everyone could.  Just behind us were a few of her Prankster sisters cheering her on every time she’d turn and look at them while I was still looking ahead.  Apparently there was a bit of a cheerleading squad behind us.

Another key moment came when we were sitting down as Drums started, and she leapt up, gushing, “This is my favorite part!” — causing me to blurt out for the first time — “I love you!!”  Fortunately she didn’t hear me as her head was already up in the music and we got to save that magic moment for a little while longer.

That night, back at the ol’ Red Vic, we rather quickly retired to the room, in part to make sure we commandeered the biggest bed in the space, and jumped right on it and started makin out like crazy!  All our clothes still on you understand — but just goin for it!  We could hear all sortsa people comin and goin and talkin and I-don’t-know-whating beyond us, but we were so far away in each other’s eyes and lips it barely registered.

Then all of a sudden I felt this tapping on my shoulder, and it turned out about half-a-dozen glowing blazing Pranksters were standing around our bed!  “Hey you two!  Get up!” somebody said.  “We got a room for you.”

What?!  Just to tell you what kind of friends we have — one of these Pranksters had actually rented an extra room called “The Summer of Love Room” — the most romantic couple’s retreat in the building — just to give it away to someone if something like Sky & I happened (!)

So we get up from the bed, all tustle-haired and wuzzle-clothed, as the Pranksters backed out into the hallway and formed this impromptu line from our door to that one — the second cheerleading squad of the night!  In the daze of the moment, all I saw were these beaming happy faces lining the whole hallway, as one of them handed me the key and said, “Have fun!”

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The next day, our Prankster brother Dr. Turley was driving his massive RV from the Haight up to his place in Chico, with a stop in Mill Valley at Sweetwater to meet up with the Kesey Bus.  Not unlike the gifted room, our RV mates all agreed Bri & Sky needed to “take a nap” in the back bedroom.

And thus began the Adventure . . .

which, in this particular moment, led to us having the most amazing long-form sex with all the drapes and windows wide open on all three sides surrounding us in the back room through The Streets of San Francisco until soon the Pacific Ocean breeze was blowing over us as we passed alongside the flickering pulsating bright orange cables of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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“The greatest moment of my life,” I heard not long after.

“You better write about this.” 

And we’ve done nothing but keep going Furthur ever since.

 

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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

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Here’s a story about meeting up with the Pranksters and Kesey Bus at Yasgur’s Farm.

Here’s one about the first Prankster Family Reunion.

And here’s the 2nd one with lots of pictures.

Here’s about the prior trip to San Francisco for The Beat Museum’s big Shindig.

Or here’s The Grateful Dead Played My 30th Birthday.

Or here’s a whole book full of real-life passionate stories like this — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

 

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

by Brian Hassett  —  karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna follow things there —

https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

 

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39 responses so far ↓

  • 1 George Walker // Jul 30, 2017 at 11:28 AM

    Super story. Love it. And you.

  • 2 Sunshine Kesey // Jul 30, 2017 at 12:41 PM

    Love is a gift that is best savored in the giving ❤️❤️❤️
    Cheers! Your happiness is my happiness

  • 3 Carolyn Riesbeck Kerouac // Jul 30, 2017 at 1:03 PM

    OMG I am super happy this is happening to you both!! LOVE THE ROAD❤

  • 4 Sky // Jul 30, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    May our Love continue to inspire not only us, but the people around us! ❤️
    All You Need Is Love!

  • 5 Sweetbryar Ludwig // Jul 30, 2017 at 2:35 PM

    So, so, so happy for you honey!!!! And lots of love to your lady!!!

    Robin and I met in the original summer of love, and you know we be going strong!!! Fantastic!!!

  • 6 Mary Jo Hicks-Sullivan // Jul 30, 2017 at 2:41 PM

    I’m speechless. What a beautiful love story. Stop being an idiot Brian!!! 🙂
    Enjoy your girl soul every moment.
    I am so happy for the both of you. ❤️

  • 7 Phil Wagner // Jul 30, 2017 at 2:44 PM

    Grate story about love! I’m so happy for both of you. Love is such a splendid thing!
    Brian I’ve known you for decades and I was intrigued by Sky’s arrival. Thank you for sharing the ‘printable’ story. Wonderful.
    I love the ‘get a room’ part and the Summer of Love room.
    But more than that I can see & feel the love in the FB posts and that makes me VERY happy for both of you!
    Wonderful.

  • 8 Susan Derrickson // Jul 30, 2017 at 2:45 PM

    Yay! I am so happy for you both.

  • 9 Pamela Twining // Jul 30, 2017 at 2:50 PM

    Awesome, Brian!
    I know the feeling of falling into the Most Love Ever, and it lasting and just getting better & better!
    Blessings on you Both! ‍❤️‍‍

  • 10 Matt Fisher // Jul 30, 2017 at 2:52 PM

    Two beautiful souls intertwined with love and day-glo.

    ⚡⚡⚡

  • 11 Judith Maxine Barnett // Jul 30, 2017 at 2:59 PM

    Wonderful story. So happy for you.
    A bit of synchronicity. On my first overnight trip to San Francisco, I stayed at the Red Vic. Such a magic place. That stay contributed greatly to my decision to move to San Francisco. Haven’t looked back.

  • 12 Jeanne Masanz // Jul 30, 2017 at 3:03 PM

    This is a beautiful story.

  • 13 Kenneth Morris // Jul 30, 2017 at 3:30 PM

    This cat is cooked!! My Man over the falls. Dig this. Hell yeah!!

  • 14 Dale Topham // Jul 30, 2017 at 3:46 PM

    Sometimes the ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ doesn’t take away HER old man! Grate story.
    So thrilled to be right on the scene when you and George happened and also nearby with you and Sky!
    Very happy for both of you!

  • 15 Stephanie Sears // Jul 30, 2017 at 4:02 PM

    Magic! It’s Magic when two people discover one another in the later years of life- I know it… I met my husband at 45 and the rest is history- 22 years later and the love is stronger than ever- I wish many Blessings upon this union, and I hope to meet her and YOU, one day- Cheers to LOVE!

  • 16 Thomas Kauertz // Jul 30, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    Great!
    Most of the time we all hate when taxis are late…
    All my best for you guys!

  • 17 Todd // Jul 30, 2017 at 4:45 PM

    Beautiful

  • 18 Heywood J Blonaparte // Jul 30, 2017 at 5:17 PM

    GREAT STORY! I was right there!!!
    Made me feel good to read it.

  • 19 Susanna Elizabeth McCabe // Jul 30, 2017 at 5:24 PM

    Happy for u both⚡️very cool!

  • 20 Walli // Jul 30, 2017 at 5:28 PM

    … and that’s what LOVE is all about!!!!
    So happy for Sky and you!!!!!

  • 21 Leroy Douglas // Jul 30, 2017 at 6:08 PM

    OMG. Thanks for sharing your story! Much love… More than beautiful

  • 22 Jennifer Russell // Jul 30, 2017 at 6:28 PM

    That’s fantastic!
    Congratulations and what fun!

  • 23 Muriels World // Jul 30, 2017 at 6:39 PM

    The planets & stars lined up…
    Sweet love story blossoming in the Summer of Love…

  • 24 Raul Ochoa // Jul 30, 2017 at 6:47 PM

    It is nice to see good folks happy!

  • 25 Karen Nelson Mangold // Jul 30, 2017 at 9:27 PM

    Beautiful and magical as love is supposed to be. Thank you for sharing, brother. ❤️

  • 26 John Wight // Jul 30, 2017 at 10:41 PM

    I always like a good love story…

  • 27 Tara Latham // Jul 31, 2017 at 9:13 AM

    What a beautiful story — just started our day with this — 3x bless you both.

  • 28 Dale Topham // Jul 31, 2017 at 10:24 AM

    So it seems that you guys have a special relationship with the Golden Gate bridge, much like the ‘mile high club’ but I suspect way more unique.
    I once rode over it on my motorcycle and thought THAT was pretty special but it pales by comparison.
    Now I won’t be able to see a picture of the bridge without the two of you coming to mind… with the soundtrack from the ‘White Album’,,, Why don’t we do it in the road? 🙂

  • 29 Katie Mae // Jul 31, 2017 at 10:33 AM

    Beautiful

  • 30 Marshall Goldberg // Jul 31, 2017 at 11:52 AM

    Love it, Brian! I have a very similar tale of the Summer of Love.

  • 31 Kitty Hary // Jul 31, 2017 at 12:40 PM

    I am so happy for you Brian! Your story has me smiling from ear to ear!

  • 32 Deborah VanBuskirk // Jul 31, 2017 at 3:31 PM

    Beautiful story.

  • 33 Adina Trowhill // Jul 31, 2017 at 5:44 PM

    Thank you for this! <3 #anyone #anytime

  • 34 Brittney Green // Jul 31, 2017 at 7:56 PM

    Awww. I was able to watch some of this story in the making.
    Love y’all.

  • 35 Andrea // Aug 1, 2017 at 12:10 AM

    My oh my… you have a penchant for writing, dear friend…
    Your words pour out effortlessly, yet with a lingering sense of “more to come” ~ I am delighted to be privy & part of your romance… it is epic in the sense of ‘true love’… but I must be some kind of romantic ~ TLEO!

  • 36 Brian Humniski // Aug 1, 2017 at 10:38 AM

    Great to hear your story of love in the summer of love. It is great to see that you have found someone so simpatico and on the same wavelength as you. I look forward to meeting her sometime in the future.

  • 37 Walli Pagneillo // Aug 1, 2017 at 3:33 PM

    Love is a many splendored thing …. ❤️ ❤️

  • 38 Neal Cassady Estate // Aug 2, 2017 at 2:28 PM

    I knew it! I knew it!
    You two have found IT!

    Much love and blessings, Jami and Randy

  • 39 Craig Mckenzie // Aug 4, 2017 at 9:28 AM

    Great story Brian — Happy for both of you!

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