My first memory

This was the only house that existed on “The Farm” when the hippies arrived. It became The Book Company.
Yes, that’s Ina May Gaskin in the middle holding a baby.

praying hippy kids

I sat by myself in the wooden sandbox situated between the dirt road and the house that the other children lived in. Birds chirped in the tall trees surrounding me. I stared at the house wishing and wondering what it’d be like to live in one and sleep in a real bed. I had been inside before and could picture the tiny dark hallway with no windows where several bunkbeds were piled together lining both sides of the walls. Those children were so special to live in a house and sleep in those beds. How I longed to be special too.

I played alone in the sandbox while the house kids ran in and out and around the house playing their games. I was different. I lived in a tent. When it was warm we’d roll up the tent walls. My mother seemed to be very happy with our tent…but oh how I fantasized about those real beds. My happy mother was my only comfort in this strange place. Her soft, warm breast belonged in my mouth. Drinking her sweet milk as she held me close was pure heaven. There were lots of people up and down these dirt roads and I didn’t know any of them. They were all strangers, the women with their skirts and hair parted in the middle with long braids, the men with their long frizzy hair and faces full of beards wearing worn out jeans and overalls.  And lots of children. Herds of them.

Soon I had a baby brother. He was born in our tent in the summer time. I thought my mother named him Sky because that is what she was looking at when she pushed him out on our tent floor with the top of the tent open. She would carry him in a special baby backpack and I’d follow her as we’d walk up the dirt road saying “hi” to everyone we passed. I was a big girl now, I was 2.

8 thoughts on “My first memory

  1. Well, I suppose I’ve read your entire blog now and am mystified at how pristine your memory is. I just want to keep reading and learning about this child’s (your) experience on The Farm. I personally have such little recollection of my own childhood that I’m almost feeling a sort of envy of how you remember the live you had for your mother. Kudos to you for recording these events in your minds eye and for sharing them with anyone willing to look for them. Do you ever visit the farm now?
    Thank you for sharing

    • Thanks! Discovering how many people don’t remember when they were little, I feel really lucky to remember so much, though I’m sure it’s only a fraction. Must be the same part of the brain that allows me to remember a lot of dreaming!
      I visited the Farm for the annual reunion in 2012 and gleeeefully soaked up every second of walking in the creeks and took pictures of all the outhouses I could find that were still standing. lol!

  2. I stumbled across your blog after looking for info about the commune in Oregon. I read all your stories in one sitting and I’m so happy I did. Thank you for writing down your stories. If was raised on a very small farm in Sandy Oregon with 3 other families. We were not nearly off the grid or self sufficient as you and your farm was. But I do remember some of the same things. So thank you again for your beautiful writing and I hope you do more.

  3. I am grateful for the hippie culture. I listened to the music all the time. Those words were all I held onto for hope – that there was a world out there beyond the lonely loveless sorrow – I did not know where but the songs helped me to hang on. Some really beautiful people did not survive, the lovelessness was too much to bear. It was so painful and impossible, but a world began to open up and beautiful people were happening and miracles. God bless the hippies, I was able to know what love felt like. I saw the beauty of a human being with the third eye, the persons inner beauty, who they really are. I felt what it feels like to be a human being for the first time. I felt and experienced the blessing of love – how I was nourished and all sorts of beautiful life sprouted and bloomed within me. I felt the spirit of love take over my whole being to help another person in a moment of sadness. I saw her whole being rise, I felt my being rising too. It was the greatest time in all my life. I did not have to know hate, violence, humiliation, terror and shame. I did not have to suffer any more, I was set free. I met a beautiful prince who was so good to me, but I could not make it happen because I was too fucked up from my traumatic past. It was as if I were invited into heaven for a little while to know what it is like there. My life on earth has been a tragic hell, heaven was so much more of everything that is truly human and humane.It was such a long time ago, I was so young then. It is said that those who survived the death camps and holocaust can never be the same again because of the trauma; we can only be together because we do not trust others to not hurt us. My beautiful love, her grandmother had a tatoo on her forearm, she was a survivor of the holocaust. God bless the Hippies, they were beautiful people who gave this life hope to carry on, that I would be free to be somehow. Thank you, your words in my tears was all there was to hold onto for some world that I did not know if it existed or if I could ever find it. Your words in songs and in culture helped me to find that beautiful world so I could love and know love too. Thank you. If there is a heaven – then I hope it is filled with such beautiful people with such beautiful minds and souls – that was the heaven I found here on earth, than any other true heaven must have as many and many more beautiful people that I will never know sadness again or its meaning.

  4. Thank you for sharing your memories on this website. It’s educational to read about what life was like on a large commune like the Farm. Though, as you’ve said, everyone’s experiences vary, I think people can learn a lot here.

    I visited the Farm briefly several times in the mid-1970s. I was very impressed by the integrity and sincerity of the people I met there. However, it quickly became apparent to me that the Farm had no chance of sustaining itself. Their “save the world” philosophy doomed them from the start, because founding and stabilizing an on-going commune was a big enough task. By diversifying their efforts too broadly, they ensured their failure.

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