Black Mountain

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Black Mountain

**josephson** writes:
David Josephson here in New Zealand. I was introduced to the realtor / owner of
Pinky's Picnic Park, and with his very friendly welcome negotiated the rental of this land for a community at a modest rent and permission to use the wood ( great redwood) picnic tables that were left, for our building. In honor of Black Mt. College, and all it offered as a cultural context for so many in the 1940s 1950s, I named the community Black Mountain. There were just a few of us as the founders; Steve, Kevin, Mary, Larry a few more folks, all inspired by geo - domes (down the road at Pacific High etc.), community, land etc. Long time ago, but thought folks might be interested in this piece of the history.

THE BLACK MOUNTAIN College began as an experimental school in 1933 and was located in a rural mountain community in North Carolina. Various avant-garde poets were drawn to the school through the years, most notably Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Jonathan Williams, and Robert Creeley. Robert Creeley was hired to teach and to edit the Black Mountain Review in 1955, and when he left two years later for San Francisco, he became the link between the Black Mountain poets, the poets of the San Francisco Renaissance, and­through Allen Ginsberg­the Beat writers of Greenwich Village. A partial list of contributors to Volume 7 of the Black Mountain Review (the last issue) shows the connection between the three groups and the influence they had on each other­Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, and Jonathan Williams.

Here's a link to the Black Mountain Journals.

By Court and Patsy
Black Mountain was a twenty -three acre property at the intersection of Skyline Boulevard and Page Mill Road, about ten miles up from Stanford and a mile from The Land. At that intersection, three counties (Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo) come together, and the resulting ambiguity sometimes proved useful for Black Mountain residents wishing to befuddle the authorities.


Page Mill and Skyline

I lived in the Pod Dome at Black Mountain for 2 years, in 1971 and 1972. At that time, Howard and Melody(an earlier Melody) lived in the bottom cabin. After they left for Hawaii, Joanna McClean moved in.(Joanna has lived on Menalto Ave in Menlo Park for the last 30 years). Bill Lindquist and Sue Villard, both of Woodside, lived there. I forget where Bill lived. Sue lived in a 2-story cabin below the Pod Dome. Fred Podris lived in the Treehouse where Fluellen Waidner joined him. (They are still together, living in Florida.) Kevin lived in his clear plastic dome by the creek. Spare(Sparrow) lived in a cabin he built near the Main House. Stan and Virginia lived in his Blue Dome. Michael Hamrin and Bonnie(& her kids) lived on the south end. Tom also. Joanna reminded me (I visited her after the Reunion) that I would try to get the hapless drunks out of Black Mtn because I wanted it to be better, more like The Land. Fred and Fluellen were very industrious doers and they wanted it to be better also. There was a Black man from Oakland named Earl Rhue(sp?) who we wonder about-don't know anything- resident for awhile. A theatre guy named Story and his entourage was also there for awhile. I used to go down to The land for more social life, where I met Mark, Iris(Marion), Winter, Bill and Leonard Garroway, Derrold(Kim), Juanita, Billy Bonzini, Fran Ryan, Tree, and others who recognized or remembered me at the Reunion which was wonderful fun....After being attacked by a mad raccoon in my Pod Dome, I decided nature was not as benign as i had thought and moved down into town where I was soon joined by Joanna and Fluellen...from there I have had many adventures on my improvised original life path.... I live in an old hippy-lineage community near Ukiah in the country called Round Mountain Ranch, a few miles off 101. 707 463 2263 if you wish to visit, we have a lake for swimming....
Tzippy aka Thyme S. Siegel

Note to Tzippy:
Bill Lindquist, [known back then as 'Wild Bill'] lived in the 'Electric Shack'... named so because of the PG&E electric power pole out in front. Remember someone had tapped into the electricity on the pole and connected up a live line? That was the only electricity on the property. Remember the huge lumber pile amassed from the dismantling of a military school in Palo Alto? Our Black Mountaineers and able bodies from the Land trucked up the used lumber and placed it in front of the Electric Shack. There and only there, a power saw could be used. Commune members from the hills could take from the lumber stock pile to build their dwellings. No charge!

-reported by Joanna McClean (12/08) to help fill out Tz's Black Mountain history page.


Driveway in to the North End of the property


Blk. Mt. mailboxes, Jan. 1974, 15 inches of snow


Kevin Freeman


Spare and Flewelyn






Michael H. and Bonnie


Bill Lindquist


Sandy, Michael, Fred & Flewelyn


Buellah Bus


Mik King on his deck


Michael Lederer


Melody - Jan. 1974


group picture outside main house


Barbara Martel in front of main house


Mike King



Melody and Court down at Boots and Saddles


Rip, Smokey &Heather swimming at the lake at Pacific High School

Black Mountain had two acres zoned commercially on the corner of the property,


Court selling x-mas wreaths


Melody with Jessica (Kim) and Spencer


Court holding his daughter Jessica (Kim)


Dean in the main house


Patsy's 25th birthday down in the main house.


Hale,Spencer, Larry &Melody X-Mas 1973 Main House


Alice and Marie & Kim in main house


Alice, Patsy, and Rip in the main house kitchen


Chris Story


Patsy, Rip and Rick in front of Courts place


Just after Jessica (Kim's birth)Barbara Roberts, Court, Patsy, Chris Story, Barbara Martell


Ri'p in front of cabin

Structures numbered around twelve mostly small dwelling units including two geodesic domes, a pod dome, a tree-house, one 6-sided house, one really large 7-sided house, several handmade cabins, and two conventional wood-frame structures left over from when the property was Pinky's Picnic Park. Of these last two, the larger one was not used as a residence and was called the Main House. This common area had running water piped from a high storage tank, propane light fixtures, and a shower. None of the structures was on the commercial power grid, so candles, Coleman gas, batteries and propane served for lighting .


The tree house


The main house in the snow


Cabin Court built


Martyin front of Courts around 1975


Theresa and son Michael


Patsy's place with Winnie in the yard, cabin built by Peaches


looking down on the main house

. Groves of valley oak covered much of the hilly property
and many of the structures were tucked away in these groves.


goat pen on the south end


Patsy in the garden


Patsy in the Black Mountain garden


clear dome built by Kevin, photo by Mike King


The pod dome, photo by Chris Story

Here an explanation from the dome book about the pod. "The pod is a dome built out of sheets of fairly thin plywood utilizing the bendy qualities of the material. (not geodesic). It is very light and economical of material, and should be quite easy to build if you are prepared to cope with the rather unusual problems such a structure presents."


The blue dome


view from Blk Mt.


sunrise on the South end of the property

From the late 60's to late 70's the population fluctuated from around eight to a couple dozen. Early residents tended to move on and newcomers took their places. Quite a few group members were highly resourceful, such as the early settlers who obtained free lumber for dwelling construction from the Oakland Naval Yard and hauled load after flatbed load across the Bay and up Woodside Road and Skyline Boulevard, and finally onto Black Mountain.

Around a dozen other "alternative living arrangements" had sprung up in these mountains, and Black Mountain residents got together with those hill folk from time to time. Such group activities included ho-downs on The Land, a Food Conspiracy branch spearheaded by Pacific High, and Sufi Dancing on Sadhana Ridge.

Various bonds of friendship created links with the Yin Palace, Hideout Mountain, Medway Forest, Pacific High School, Struggle Mountain, The Land, and Rancho Diablo.

Please add your stories about Black Mountain.

Black Bear and Black Mt.

By Court Tefft and Patsy Dodd

Commune Movie 1.jpeg

It was the spirit of the times for communes to be open and welcoming to like-
minded folks. It also left them vulnerable to a host of unsavory characters. Black Mountain and Black Bear were subjected to a near take over by Shivalia a group of Lost nomadic spiritual hippies. Black Bear is a Digger communal offshoot that still exists.
Black Bear is the subject of the documentary film Commune (2006). Purchased with assistance from the Doors, Monkees and Fran Zappa, the 80 acre site is in a very remote area near Mt. Shasta. The film is a window into the mindsets of the time.
Smaller secular groups like Black Bear periodically and rapidly went thru structural changes trying to keep it together. Limited monetary resources, diverse political and spiritual belief systems within a wide range of alternative beliefs, combined with big egos and the formation of cliques tended to create communal friction. Tension anger and personal drama brought some people closer together and drove others away.
Communes were experimental and new. Black Bear residents wore many hats. “At various ties they tried abolishing private property, even to the ownership of ones personal clothing along with bans on exclusive relationships…”, thought to be capitalist constructs that inhibited personal freedom, intimacy and growth.
Early on many of the secular communes operated on high energy and idealistic enthusiasm. Most had no real leaders or plans other than living with like-minded folks, getting back to nature and waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Society was crumbling and in some circles it seemed like armed revolution and insurrection were a distinct possibility…survival depended on becoming self sufficient.

The protagonists in the documentary film Commune are a Nomadic band of acid drenched spiritual hippies, known as Shivalia. Their leader Gridley Wright is featured prominently in the book “The Hippie Trip” by Lewis Yablonsky. Written in 1968 Yablansky takes a sociologists road trip thru early hippiedom with Gridley as his guide. They visit a series of loosely structured communes in Ca.

The Magical Mystery Tour is coming to take you away
Coming to take you away
The Magical Mystery Tour is dying to take you away
Dying to take you away – take you today

The Beatles
Lennon – McCartney


picture by Gilbert Shelton

The charismatic Gridley had a degree in political science from Yale. The former stockbroker, William F. Buckley conservative and probation officer had become a “psychedelic revolutionary.” “I have had over 100 acid trips” he explained to Yablansdy “Just let your light shine! That’s about all you have to do. One of the things that a far-out righteous cat named Krishnamurti says is that you don’t change the world, you change yourself, and this is like so fucking true, man it’s incredible! That’s how the world gets changed. And that’s how it’s happening with the acid movement. It’s not a political movement.”
I find that it’s incredible that so many of us are all just saying the same thing at the same tine in different places.” What is it that scientists call this, synchronicity?
Gridley had become infamous in Los Angeles (67) after getting busted for marijuana and defending himself on the grounds that marijuana was a religious sacrament. The judge called Gridley a “false prophet”, found him guilty – fined hi and put him on probation for 5 years. The former probation officer, violated his probation and went to jail for a while.
Before his bust Gridley had become an articulate spokesperson for communal living. As founder of the Strawberry Fields Commune in Southern Ca., Gridley’s commune had been the subject of a lengthy article in the psychedelic underground newspaper the Oracle in 1967.
Strawberry Fields lasted for about two years before burning down. Someone knocked over a candle. Gridley learned an important lesson that would served him well in the future.
“You know some people have been told what they HAVE to do for so long man, that they get into a place where they’re free and they just don’t know what to do.” Gridley was more than willing to tell them what to do.

Flash forward 1975 or 76 at Black Mountain in the Santa Cruz Mt. of Calif.

One hot dusty summer day while many Black Mt. residents were away travelling, a big old school bus slowly rolled down the rutted dirt road past the blue dome and came to a stop in front of the main house. A few Black Mountainites showed up to greet the bus occupants.
The charismatic Gridley introduced himself and a large extended family composed of men, women and children. They seemed like nice enough folks. Gridley explained they were heading north looking for a piece of land to settle on. They were road weary and asked it they could stay for a while. We said sure. They parked their bus and set up camp in the woods below the main house.
We soon learned they practiced psychedelic tantrism and called themselves Shivaliva. Adult males were urged to have sex for purposes of pro-creation with three different women and to avoid pairing off as couples. Parenting was a responsibility shared by all. Children were not possessed by their biological parents, the idea was to move away from the limited and unnatural imprinting of the nuclear family. The goal was to return to a healthier more primitive natural spiritual state of tribal beingness. The quest was to enlighten others and find a piece of land to settle on. Gridley was everyone’s Father.
Highly sensitized by LSD it became clear that Gridley was an acid casualty control freak who had spent too much time in outer space. Gridley employed a network of spies who fed him information about individuals that he would then use in individual encounters to pretend he was all knowing and could see thru your soul.
Gridley tried to convince me to let them raise my daughter Kim. He tried to convince Patsy that she could open the doors to enlightenment by coming a primary wife among his many
Shivalila did not believe in private property or possessions. Some were animal rights activists. I remember angrily arguing with one member, the second in command, as he self-righteously defended the right of our goat to be in the main house …droppings and all.
Sensing a lack of leadership and unity while many of our primary members were away it soon became clear the Shivalila was clearly determined if possible to make Bl. Mt. a primary residence. They were not moving on! We were all relieved when Chris, Rip and some others got home. Collectively we demanded they hit the road – which they did.
Not long after leaving Black Mt. journalist Warren Hinckle did an interview with Gridley that appeared in the S.F. Chronicle. Shivalila had just cooked up their aging grey-hound dog and offered to share it with Hinckle. ‘Waste not want not,’ Hinckle declined.
Gridley who believed he had been Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna and Buddha in past lives. He died in India (1979) of double pneumonia, weeks after an attack by a psychotic Australian man who stabbed him in the back and chest.