In the early Spring of my sophomore year in high school I was walking on Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley’s main downtown street, when I saw a small red notebook on the ground. I picked it up, saw that it was someone’s jottings and further noted there was no way of identifying the person or locating him (it clearly had belonged to a male). I have held onto the notebook for fifty-two years and am today publishing it’s contents verbatim.
In seven days of "jottings" the author managed to give a snippet of the Haight Ashbury and Berkeley, particularly the Telegraph Avenue area. Tis indeed a slice of history and a good representation of the types of people who wandered into and around the Bay Area -- particularly San Francisco and Berkeley -- in the Sixties.
The author called himself Dutch. As you will note he was from New York. I guess that he was in his early twenties although he could have been in his late teens or in his thirties. I still, to this day feel bad that he lost his notebook, an account of his first visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, and that I had no means to locate him.
I’ve hung on to the notebook giving myself only vague reasons why I should. Within a few years of its discovery, it was already seeming to me to be an interesting cultural artifact from the Sixties. As it happens I am currently working on a novel set in Berkeley in the Sixties which reminded me of the notebook.
Where is Dutch today? Did he die later that year? Last week? Ten years ago? Or is he alive and well? Did he settle in the Bay Area or go back to New York or somewhere else? Did he continue to use drugs? Did he become an addict? Or did he quit all but alcohol in the coming years?
I transcribed every word of the notebook without editing. Any mistakes in punctuation, spelling or grammar are the original author’s, not mine. ( I also did not subject the reader to a succession of parenthetical "sics.") I did make two minor changes, once he accidentally put ’68 instead of ’69 I fixed that and his misspelling of Berkeley. In any event there wouldn’t have been a lot to change because Dutch was clearly a good writer and his grammar and spelling weren’t bad. Thankfully he also boasted excellent penmanship and I didn’t have to struggle to ascertain so much as a word.
Some questions come up when reading the notebook. Most notably, why was he “kicked out” of the crash pad? He offers no explanation. Maybe it wasn’t worth noting or perhaps he was embarrassed by something he’d done. I'll leave the reader to discover and contemplate other questions that arise
For barely a week’s worth of entries there are a slew of Runyonesque sounding characters, to wit: Jailhouse Mike, Baby Sonny, JC and Weasel.
I’d love to have discovered a month or more’s worth of Dutch’s writings but then again I’m glad he lost only the one week. (The entries start on a Monday and end the following Sunday). I hope upon the sad discovery of losing the notebook he immediately bought a new one and kept better care of it. Maybe he fashioned his entries into a book.
So many questions and so much to ponder. Here it is:
Property of Dutch
“Vibes ’n’ Stuff”
The mental meanderings of a frustrated, paranoid, smoke freak and acid head
24 Mar. ’69
Frisco - first impressions
Hit Frisco today hung around Market st for a while. Too much like Times Square don’t need it.
Wended my way up to Haight. One of my first impressions was that good breathing air is in plentiful supply. Haven’t checked out the whole scene yet but Haight st. is nice. Found a groovy park where everyone seems to while away the daylight hours.
Green, free and groovy. Shirts don’t appear to be mandatory and if the man is around he doesn’t make himself evident kids, dogs and sunshine just the way a park should be…people just grooving on life and living, with congas for background and overhead Hip American’s contributions to the space race, frisbees whirl and dive.
It is good here, I think. I’m going to like it here.
Things are looking up sooner than I had anticipated. Met Cici this afternoon, haven’t seen her since last June in New York she’s just as gorgeous a she ever was. She turned me on to some people who could help me get a place to crash. She tells me I can expect to run into more people from New York and there are more coming.
It is rumored that a coming earthquake will send the Bay Area sliding into the sea. I, for one, feel that it’s probably a good thing. It’s about time San Francisco seceded from the Union, anyhow.
Am now ensconced in a Haight St. coffee, tea and palate delectation emporium called Brother Juniper’s Inn. Place is staffed by young people in monastic garb. Prices are reasonable and there does not appear to be a limit on how long one may mull over a cup of tea, but then I haven’t really tested their tolerance here yet, either. The atmosphere is conducive to thought and discussion, with the strains of classical music echoing gently of the wood paneled walls.
Since I have only just arrived, I haven’t met anyone to sit and discuss things with, I shall have to, for the time being confine my activities to thought and jotting my thoughts down in this here little notebook to pass the time.
Hmm, I may have a guest at my table. I was right. Mayhap something will develop. So far nothing is developing. Well, if this gentleman wishes to remain intellectually deprived, that’s his business. He blew it. He just got up and left. The evening is still young, tho who knows what could happen?
Aha! The chick who works here has been in New York recently. I thought she looked familiar. Let’s see what happens now.
Hmmm, let’s see now. She used to work in the Gaslight and her old man is still there, he’s a dealer and his name is George. The description gets kind of graphic so I won’t bore you with details.
Well the sleeping arrangements came through so I’ll see you in the morning.
25 March 69
Well the place where I crashed last night is full of gay people which presents a bit of a problem. I think I can handle the hassle if I can get it through Larry’s head (it’s Larry’s pad) that I’m not the least bit interested in his particular scene.
I met a pretty cool dude today. He’s a biker named Jailhouse Mike, Mother’s Mike’s 2nd cousin, a very righteous dude. Want to hear a mindblower? Jailhouse is Baby Sonny’s legal Old Man. Sonny’s in L.A. on the strip and we may trip down there and say hello. Found out something else interesting. While I was checking out the S.F. Switchboard Mail list I discovered the name of one Dominic V. Love. So evidently he’s been here and might even still be here.
26 March 69
Spent the night in the back seat of a friends car. Somehow managed to sit on my shades and smash them all to shit, oh well. Jailhouse turned me on to a Phone Credit Card No. Might as well try it out by trying to call N.Y. and tell people what’s happening.
The Credit Card works but the damn phone didn’t and lost my dime. Oh well I’ll try again some other time. Spent most of the day running around and try to cash Mike’s fuckin Tax return check only problem is it’s a check and trying to cash it is like pulling Lion’s teeth and the lion has bad breath on top of everything else. We did bump into an old friend of Mike’s named Josh and we went over to his place and got turned on to some very groovy people and dinner. We smoked some and then one of the cats had to go to Berkeley so Mike and I went along to check things out. We are now in Berkeley at the Free Church, drinking tea and waiting further developments.
Just went for a walk and couldn’t believe how groovy this place is. I just hope it looks as good in the daylight as it does in the dark. I thought Frisco was nice but this place stands head and shoulders above it, so far. I had better get in touch with Celene and see if I can talk her out here.
27 Mar 69
Approaching the end of my first day in Berkeley and while I didn’t accomplish much I still had a pretty good time. I met a few people and we rapped and got stoned. Stoned shit, I haven’t been so wrecked since I left New York.
Read the War Lover this afternoon to kill time. Not a bad book but the flick was sure different.
Pretty cool scene out here. I can get established I’ll have it made.
28 March 69
Shades of the East Village, spent the night in a crash pad covered with wall to wall people got thrown out and am now ensconced in the same hotel in my own pad, mine and Mike’s.
Checked out Telegraph Ave, called Celene she’s fine and copped some Acid, some purple stuff, good shit.
29 March 69
Mike and I came home last night with the intention of rapping a while with a biker buddy of Mike’s named Guy, from Detroit and his Buddy, Ray from St. Louis. That part was going along as planned and then there was this rap on the door. I went and checked it out and it was this cat JC from the Free Church telling me about a couple of spaced out needle freaks who needed a place to crash. I wasn’t too hot on the idea at first but then I found that one of the dudes, a cat named Weasel had O.D’d on smack and needed to be off the street but bad so I let them in. We laid Weasel out on the bed so he could crash and then spent the rest of the night in a bullshit session. I crashed for a couple of hours and woke up in time to bid adieu to Weasel and Bill, his buddy, who were setting out to reclaim their stash. Me and Guy rapped for awhile, JC and Ray were gone and Mike was asleep and after a while me and Guy went up on the roof where I was shown scenic points around the Bay Area. Then we decided we’d go up on Telly Ave. and freak on the freaks we did that for a while and I figured I should bop back down to the hotel and catch up on my notes, which I am now doing. In a while I’m going to head up to the Church and see what’s happening. Oh yeah, they had services at the Church last night and it was really great, a dynamite trip. They had a band which was great and Communion and the whole thing was fantastic, especially when you stop to remember that I was tripping through the whole thing.
Am now in the Free Church in the Switchboard Office with Mike. They put on a free feed her tonite, rice beans and potatoes, not bad.
Right now they’ve run everyone out as preparations are being made for a play. This should be interesting.
The play was funny as hell man, the only thing was, I kept falling out in the middle of it. Finally I went home and crashed.
30 March 69
Went down to the Church early this afternoon, not much happening. Wandered down to Provo Park and dug the band that was playing. They were pretty good and ever body was stoned.
Fucked around some more between the Church and the Ave. It’s getting late and I’m going to make it home in a little while.