In the late 1970’s i participated in the Rainbow Family Tribal Gatherings. After the 1978 gathering in Oregon a few of us on the council decided to try and keep the gathering going year-round in what we referred to as P.E.A.C.E. villages. That was an acronym that stood for Positive Energy Alternative Community Environment. We negotiated a site with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and setup the first P.E.A.C.E. camp about 20 miles east of Ashland. My first child, Christopher, was born there.
The P.E.A.C.E. camps evolved as we moved south for the Winter. Somehow word trickled up the Federal land management chain and we managed to score a meeting with the BLM Director of the Western Region. The BLM controlled over 500 million acres of public land – almost all of which was in the West. This guy was maybe the third most powerful person in the federal land management hierarchy behind Cecil Andrus, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Assistant Secretary.
I was in Oklahoma when i got news of our planned meeting with The Man. Not wanting to risk getting there late i borrowed my dad’s pickup truck. We set off for Golden, Colorado where we were to pick up our pal Roger and take him with us to Denver. When we arrived in Golden it was late and dark and we couldn’t locate Roger’s house. We decided to get some sleep and find Roger in the morning. I spotted a nice looking park, pulled over and we crashed in the covered bed of the pickup.
Next morning we awoke to a pounding on our windows. It was the cops. We promptly assumed the position as the police searched us then searched the truck. They even illegally searched the locked glove compartment where they found my dad’s starter pistol. That is, they found what appeared to be a pistol but was really used to start track and field events. They arrested us on suspicion of murder.
It seems the park we had chosen to sleep beside was the scene of a murder some months ago. That combined with the fact that we had a starter pistol in our glove compartment, long hair and no place to stay got us arrested. They quickly released Melody but i had to spend the night in jail. I was in a large holding tank with about a dozen big black guys. I was a little worried they might not like me but that was the day Reggie Jackson hit three homeruns in one World Series game so everyone was just listening to the radio and cheering.
Well, the charges were quickly dropped to some sort of loitering and we were able to post bail and go pick up Roger. In order to get our bail money back (after appearing and getting off) we were told we had to go to Boulder. I don’t know why, i think they were just messing with us. Anyway, we drove to Boulder and waited in the County Courthouse building for hours and hours. At this point we started to worry. The arrest, bail, appearance and now a trip to Boulder was making us late for our meeting. And we now had no gas money so we were forced to wait for the clerk to refund our bail.
The clerk was a polite but inefficient woman who, at every question, would excuse herself to go talk to someone behind a curtained office window. After about a dozen of these visits i began to refer to the entity behind the curtains as the Wizard of Oz. He must be pulling all the strings here. Late in the morning (our meeting was that afternoon in Denver) a man strides from behind the curtains. He strolls up to us waving a check and asks, “Are you Joe Record’s son ?”. Astonished i replied “Yes, how’d you know ?”. He explains that he is an old Phillips University baseball fan. He and his family used to drive down from their home in southern Kansas to watch Phillips baseball. Joe Record, the Phillips baseball coach was a legend in those parts. The Wizard says why didn’t i tell him that earlier, he’d have cut the check on the spot.
So, we cashed our check from the Wizard of Oz who actually came from Kansas and made it to the meeting (a little late). The Bureau liked our ideas and invited us to meet with the Assistant Secretary of State in D.C. but that is another story.
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