My Summer with the HIPPIES … 1967
In 1967 my husband, three children and I were living in New York, about 100 miles North of NY City. We had a small Real Estate business in our home and one day two young Vassar students showed up. They were dressed in the typical hippie attire of the ‘60’s and were looking for a place to rent for the summer. They needed a place that was cheap and that could accommodate 6 girls.
We liked the girls and I wasn’t surprised when I heard my husband make them an offer. He represented a group of investors that had just bought a 300 acre farm in the next County. The farmhouse on the property was very old and barely livable. But it did have 5 bedrooms, a rudimentary kitchen, electricity and running water.
He proposed a rental agreement that included paying $800 for the 8 weeks. Then, if, under my supervision and working 6 hours a day Monday through Friday for the 8 weeks, they would help with emptying, cleaning and painting the inside of the house, we would return the money at the end of the summer.
The girls were ecstatic and we signed papers that day. Little did I know that this was the first link in a chain of events that would provide me with one of the best summers that I would ever know!
A few weeks later the girls moved in. By Monday they had already planted a small garden in the back yard and had jugs of water sitting in the sun, filled with a variety of exotic tea leaves to make “sun tea”. They had also made “house rules” and one of these was that, during the 6 hour work day, each girl would have an hour to play the music of her choice.
For the rest of the summer whenever we were working we would have music. One girl’s dad was an opera singer and she would play the classics. Then it would be Heavy Metal or Rhythm & Blues or The Beatles, or the new sound of Pink Floyd.
We didn’t only listen to the music … we danced our way through the dullness of washing a floor or stripping wallpaper. We’d sing and mimic the artists and we’d talk, talk, talk. I had been out of college for 13 years and it was exhilarating to be back in that atmosphere. I felt younger than I had for ages.
A few of the stodgy neighbors complained about our “hippie” farm, but we paid little heed to that. The girls were reliable and fun to be with and they put life back into that old farmhouse. By the end of the summer we hated to see them go.
It’s interesting to note that one year later nearly half a million “real hippies” congregated 30 miles north of the property at the Woodstock Festival. It was touted as “a weekend of music, love and peace“...but I’d had my share of that already !