I Was a Ten-Year-Old Hippieby Tyler Woods on Jul. 21, 2009, under Life
In 1968, we lived on a ranch in Tucson, Arizona. It was on 40 acres of desert. Our ranch house was made of old whitewashed adobe that was never painted in the 14 years I lived there, which gave it a rustic old pueblo look. Arizona was land of the cowboys and that is why it was so hard for me to live as a closeted hippy. I might have only been ten years old but if you asked me what I wanted to grow up to be, I said a hippie.
Now to me, a hippie had many meanings. It meant to be a free, outspoken musician and write and sing protest songs even though I wasn’t sure what I was protesting. It meant writing like Bob Dylan, singing like Janis Joplin, and playing like The Beatles, while secretly listening to Tommy James & the Shondells and the Monkeys.
It was hard being a 10-year-old hippie living in a town filled with cowboys. Hippies did not wear cowboy boots and listen to Johnny Cash and go on hayrides in Winterhaven at xmas. In fact, hippies would be against that. Winterhaven was probably part of the “establishment,” whatever that meant. As a young-child hippie, I had to be against everything. Life was free and easy. My job was to stand on the corner of the ranch property, flashing peace signs to people driving by. It meant never trusting anyone over 30. It meant saying phrases such as “make love not war,” “here come the judge,” and “sock it to me.” It meant I could be groovy and dig it all while tuning in, turning on, and dropping out.
Being 10-years old and a closeted hippie proved to be challenging at times. My mother would go to Sears when it was part of downtown Tucson to buy me those stiff, frilly, wash-n-wear, polyester dresses that would go on sale for 3 for $10. They crunched when you walked they were so stiff. Being a hippie meant wearing love beads, headbands, fringe vests, and grungy jeans with holes in them. So I would have to make my dresses look dirty and raggedy, sneak my love beads under my dress, and put a flower in my headband because clearly the 60s were about flower power and not the 3 for 10 specials at Sears.
Because I was such a young hippie and I could not always dress the role, I learned how to act the role. I was always angry about the war. I vowed that I would dodge the draft by the time I was 12. I was not sure what the draft was, and I did not know how I was going to dodge something I did not know about, but all the hippies were doing it, so I knew I would have to it to prove my hippiehood by dodging the draft, and I knew in order to do that, I would need to find my way on campus to the U of A because that was where all the hippies were born, on college campuses.
I am sure my family and friends thought I was a little off kilter but I didn’t care. I was a hippie and I had to seek out my own course through the world and literally experiment with all that there was to offer. Problem was I was too young to know what the world had to offer. However, I was willing to do my research. As a young hippie in training I would have to investigate and where better to investigate then on 4th Ave?
My cousin lived right by 4th Ave and when we went to his house, I would see real life hippies sitting at the cafe’s and shops along the Ave. Long-haired men with beards would be selling leather necklaces, love beads, and incense while playing bongos and singing, and the women in their exotic outfits would be dancing to the beat with their eyes closed. They had no idea I was staring. If I got caught, it would be okay, I would just tell them I was a young hippie in training. All I knew was they were real.
Today 4th Ave is a reminder that it was once a hippie haven. Guitar players in dreadlocks, selling beads, and hemp tattoos still sit upon the cracked sidewalks with their cases open playing old Dylan awaiting a hand out. An assortment of old hippies walking into the co-op to do their grocery shopping, and the younger generation of what could have been hippies all walk the streets. I suppose that is why 4th Ave is still one of my favorite spots in Tucson; because in some respects, I will always be that 10-year-old hippie.