Summer of Love, Crosswalk of Anger

WHERE WERE YOU during the Summer of Love? I wasn’t invited, and frankly, I’m miffed. All this talk about free love and flower children make me think I missed something. Growing up in Minnesota during the 1960s, the only free love I got was the priest passing out communion wafers at church. I didn’t know a hippie from a handbag and I’ve come to realize, now, how repressed I was. Had I been part of the hippie movement, I’d feel free to be me, today. I could let my hair go gray and dance in the streets with reckless abandon. It’s just something to think about as I watch yet another PBS special on San Francisco’s summer of 1967.

E-MAIL BAG: Montclair has never been much on motor vehicle manners, but BJ Levi says she was shocked the other day when a car almost hit her in the crosswalk at Mountain and Snake.

“I was so scared that I froze in the crosswalk while the light was still green,” she writes. Seconds later, another motorist started screaming obscenities at Levi for blocking the intersection. So there were two rude motorists — probably in a hurry to get home. That’s no excuse.

“It worries me,” says Levi, “that there are people that find it OK to scream at a woman frozen in fear in a crosswalk, instead of asking if she’s OK or needs help.”

ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT: Thanks to reader Michael McColl for letting me know about the passing of local legend Richard McGowan.

McGowan was a pioneer in the adventure travel industry, and as a mountain climber, he made 11 major expeditions, including one to Mount Everest. He also led the first guided climb up Mount McKinley in Alaska, the highest peak in North America. One of his earliest businesses, Mountain Travel, was run out of an office on La Salle Avenue in Montclair. McGowan’s adventurous spirit was in his genes, McColl says. McGowan was a descendant of one of the crew members on the Mayflower. He also had a relative who sailed with Sir Francis Drake. McGowan leaves behind a wife and three children, who have vowed to carry on his quest for global adventure.

SHARE THE WEALTH: Speaking of global adventures, Rosemary and Wheatley Allen have been touring Northern California with two friends from Malawi, Africa. As members of Piedmont Community Church, the Allens and others have adopted a church in Malawi, making several trips there with donations such as sewing machines so the Malawians can earn money making garments.

“We have everything and they have nothing,” says Allen, who says the people are happy and appreciative despite being from a poor region. The Malawi guests’ first visit to America included a trip to Mendocino.

“They were overwhelmed with the big trees and they’d heard about the ocean but never seen it,” says Wheatley, who said they had that childlike wonder about everything they saw.

If you’d like to donate to the sewing machine fund, you can call the church at 510-547-5700.

SONG BIRD: Barbara Dane can still belt out a tune, even on her 80th birthday. The longtime Oaklander who made a name for herself singing jazz and blues with stars such as Louis Armstrong and Muddy Waters is performing on her birthday, May 11, at the Greek Orthodox Church. It’s a fundraiser for the East Bay Agency for Children — the 11th Annual Heart & Soul Celebration.

For a night of great music and fun, call 510-268-3770.

GETTING SNIPPY: Have more hair than you know what to do with? From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Alexander Pope Salon, 5413 College Ave., is offering free haircuts to anyone with a 10-inch ponytail. The hair will be donated to Locks of Love, a charity that provides human hair wigs to children with medical hair loss. Don’t fret if your hair doesn’t make the cut — you can still get a free “do” with a $50 donation.


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