Currently reading a novel set in wine country in Eastern Washington and reading the vicious comments posted by petty people on the Hey Garberville Facebook page, trashing this young woman for putting her garbage bag next to a random dumpster when she found it locked, reminded me of the great hitchhiking adventure to pick apples back in 1975.
It was the end of Summer and the beat was pulsing through the community: goin' up to Washington to pick apples. (I had done it a couple days in Michigan a few years before and had gotten fired when I went cluelessly from one tree to another picking the low-hanging fruit instead of choosing one tree and picking it bare using a ladder.)
Some hippies were combining the apple-picking destination with a side trip to the Fiddlers Contest in Weezer, Idaho.
I was talking with some women who wanted to go north. One was Raisin, nee Connie, who was the daughter of Helen of “Helen's Greenhouse” fame. Her operation was just across the river after the Whitethorn Junction and we all stopped there to buy starts and later in the year vegetables. (Raisin had been going with Buffalo Chip and where the hell is he these days? And Raisin?)
Later Raisin blew up the greenhouse, maybe after her mother and husband had left, and there was a bust of some magnitude.
Sky, who was later famously together with David Hathcock, also wanted to go north to pick.
So there we were: Raisin, Sky, and Zukini by the side of the road with our thumbs out heading north! (I was also on the hunt for a mimeograph machine with which to start a local underground paper, twelve years before Gulch Mulch sprang on the scene.)
I only remember one thing about that road trip north and that's what I thought about when the local internet lynch mob of busybodies was savaging that hapless young woman on the Hey Garberville page a few days ago.
One afternoon we were standing by the highway and I was innocently eating a can of Planters Spanish Peanuts. When I finished the can I went to the side of the road and gently placed it down on the curb.
Those women lit into me! How could I litter like that they said. I had instantly become lowlife hippie scum in their eyes and I was in for a 400 mile shaming.
In my defense I said I wasn't littering because I didn't callously throw it. They weren't buying that then and neither is anyone now.
(It reminded me of an episode when I was about eight: I went into the neighborhood restaurant, Ray Keesling's, in Muncie, Indiana where the waiter was also our paperboy. I asked him how much the french fries were and he said fifteen cents. A while later he brought out a huge pile of fries and said, “Eat hearty!”
I ate the delicious fries with lots of catsup and left without paying. When I came back a few days later he said, “Why didn't you pay for the fries when you were here before?”
“I only asked you how much they were,” I said. “I didn't order them.” When you're a kid you kinda learn how the world works as you grow up, right?)
We got to Chelan and I found a job picking huge ripe apples at Sunshine Orchards. (If I were like Ray Oakes I would now google the area and probably find out that the apple orchards had been replaced with vineyards.) I wasn't very fast and the skillful Mexicans showed me up without trying.
I spent my apple-picking earnings on a mimeograph machine I found for sale in Chelan at a church for $50, and mailed it back to Whitethorn. (My friends and I put out a couple issues, a country classic called “Stickers 'n Weeds.” There was the inevitable political article by Paul Encimer, Charley Wilson was interviewed about micro-hydro power Pelton wheels and the new 200-mile offshore limit, and someone else wrote about how to do an herbal abortion, among other stories. After a couple years I donated the mimeo to EPIC.)
There was a new-agey woman in town named Loretta Hazan who invited the traveling apple-picking hippies to her house for some cosmic events and just to hang out. There I met a young woman about my age, twenty-one, and we got together in Loretta's remodeled basement. No condoms, no worries—it was the seventies.
It was slam-bam and I have to wonder if maybe someday I'll get a knock on my door. Well, it'll probably just be the police.