For some strange reason one morning I had instant memories of my teenage years as a weekend hippie. No one in my family was allowed to become a full time one, according to my father; so the weekend had to do.
It began one day in 1966 sitting at the Riviera Cafe with my friends after school, and listening to The Buffalo Springfield’s new song, “For What It’s Worth”. Everybody in that café instantly came together and sang the song at full volume until each note was over. It was a huge turning point in my life about standing up for what I believed in.
I respect everyone’s opinion, as this world would be pretty boring if we all thought the same thing but I have always proudly beaten my own drum. The Byrds were a huge influence on me, and I still remember my father complaining that if he ever saw me wear the same style glasses Roger McGuinn wore that there would be trouble.
Throughout my life, if people said go left, I always went right – and go right I did the next day – to the store to buy those glasses. Of course I was wearing them as soon as I left the store, and who drove down the street but my father, beeping his horn and shaking his fist at me because I had defied him.
He got over it though, just like he got over the bell bottoms as I don’t think he really had a choice. He was horrified when he saw a few people wear the flared pants and told our neighbor that his daughters would only wear those things over his dead body. Of course, that weekend I hauled my 10 year old sister with me on the bus to Montreal, where we each got a pair at Eaton’s department store. I figured if she got a pair he would be only half as mad.
They were made from a heavy backed acrylic fabric and such a gaudy Kelly green that we both looked like Gumby. I have no idea what the backing was but every time I got warm and removed the pants some of the backing became part of my skin.
During the summer, my friends and I took the bus to Montreal and would hand out flowers for peace at the Place Ville Marie plaza every weekend. People would come up to the girl with the flowers in her hair and ask if I was from San Francisco. I would just smile from ear to ear as that was the highest compliment anyone could give me.
Of course more protests came my way, or I somehow fell into them by accident. In 1969 Sir George Williams University (Concordia University) in Montreal was the home of the largest student riot in Canadian history.
Beginning on January 29, over 400 students occupied the university’s computer lab. The occupation was sparked by the university’s mishandling of racism allegations against a professor at the school. Fed up with the administration, the students left the meeting and occupied the university computer lab on the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall Building.
Most of the occupation was quite peaceful without the involvement of the police, while negotiations with the administration were going on. The lab was not damaged, except for the several million computer punch cards that were sent fluttering to the street below, like confetti.
The occupation continued until February 11 th when negotiations broke down and riot police were called in. Then a fire broke out in the computer lab, forcing the occupiers out of the building. Ninety-seven of them were arrested and my father sighed with relief that I was not one of them.
The computer lab was destroyed, resulting in over $2 million dollars in damage. I was outside the building a good deal of the time with a sign, and when the smoke started pouring out of the windows I started to cheer. Cheer? Oh my!
I told my son this week, that if I was younger I still would be protesting something wherever they needed me. But his mother is old now, and if she gets up in the morning and something doesn’t ache or sound broken, it’s a good day. I can’t remember what happened two hours ago but ask me to sing “For What It’s Worth,” by The Buffalo Springfield from 1966, and I can still remember every word. Nothing really changes does it?
All Photos by Linda Seccaspina
A video by my BFF Kevin Army from Oakland Ca.. Im memory of when we covered the OCCUPY protests in 2011 in San Francisco and Oakland.:(
Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place