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Gary Starkweather


I have never been one who looks back very much. I mostly have been so busy inventing and re-inventing myself that the past gets shunted aside and little pondered.

I have no photos from The Land, or from any other period in my adult life before the 80’s, and it has never bothered me much until quite recently.

In the week or so since The Land Reunion flurry landed in my inbox, I have been busy creating this wicki to enable the community to assemble virtually and to share a recorded telling of who and what we were and what we did.

It has had an amazing effect. Suddenly faces pop up in memory and then, days later, perhaps a name. I have actually used the words foxy, scarf, and chick (in the 70’s sense) in conversation!


So I am going to start telling the story of how I came to be at The Land, and as many other Land stories as I have time and patience for.

photo by Neil

These Days

I left the land in early 76, I think... Bea was pregnant and needed a stable secure situation.

Blake came (Iris delivered), and all was well.

After a few years things changed and I moved out.

Some time after that, on October 25, 1980, I went to the Struggle Halloween party - I think Neil 'n Norma were saying goodbye as they headed south too... Pam Shaw also came to the party with a friend from David's 76 campaign.

Well, I took Pam home that night - and here, going on 33 years later, I am still with her.

Blake and I joined Pam and Josh - and later, Sparrow joined us too, and we had a great time raising kids and being a family in South Palo Alto. In 82 or so I stopped being a builder and became a computer guy (thanks Foothill).

I worked for a decade or so for a small company in Mountain View and when Josh and Sparrow graduated in 90, moved up to Boulder Creek. We could just barely afford to buy a wreck of a house on a nice little creekside parcel and to make it minimally livable. Over the next fifteen years, wall by wall, room by room, we improved it until it was beautiful - top to bottom.

In 95 I stopped driving over the hill to work and became a consultant. Right about then, I convinced Chris Neklason (he's Pop) at CruzIO that his customers needed to be able to have a website - and he figured out how to do that - the first one at CruzIO and one of the early ones in Santa Cruz County. I wanted to do SLV Web - a virtual community on line via the new World Wide Web - in all its monochrome glory (all webpages were gray then).

In 98 I bought into a startup ISP in Boulder Creek and continued to try to grow community on the web. Some things never change hmm?? I worked 24 by 7 for almost 6 years and in January of 2005 we drove off in our cars, chasing after a 45 foot truck with 14 tons of our stuff in it - heading to Pam's childhood home on Vancouver Island - just off shore from Vancouver, BC Canada.

Now Pam's commute is just up and down the stairs and I am still working out my next trick. We basically shopped over the Internet and it turned out well, the neighborhood was more urban than we liked but then we finally found a place that is a lot more rural but only 11 minutes from an urban center.

We now live in the tiny seaside hamlet of Crofton BC - home of a pulp mill and a shipping point for whole log cargoes to China (these were both true statements in Nanaimo as well, it's just much more immediate due to the smaller harbor - but we're up on the mountainside and not much effected by it all.

BTW: We were told, when we started this, that it rarely snows here - well, it hardly ever sticks - much like Boulder Creek or The Land.

We arrived a couple of days after a tree smashing 3 foot dump - trees everywhere, and have seen 8 or so snows in the past two years. It seems the weather is wacky and the jet stream is more vertical than it used to be - flopping back and forth between coming from Hawai'i or from the Aluetians. So, overall, it's not that different from Skyline, but next fall we will consider snow tires (we got 'em).

photo by Neil

This is the beginning of my Beginnings story - much more to come, I'm afraid...

My California Beginnings

Chapter 1: Deserter!

The forces that led me to Page Mill Road were, as for many others, the Draft Resistance, the Anti-Vietnam War movement, and the blossoming of the 60’s counter culture.

My story starts in San Francisco in October of 1968.

I was a 20 year old (almost) en route to Vietnam – or so the Army and my parents and the rest of the world thought.

I knew I was going to stay in San Francisco and was thankful for the airplane ride from Connecticut, my childhood home.

You see, I was already a hippie by then and had tried and failed, before being drafted - and on through Basic Training at Ft. Dix, NJ and then during Jungle Warfare Infantry Training at Ft. Polk, LA to get conscientious objector status. I had been living in Nyack NY, managing a tiny record store on Main Street and living in a rooming house with residents who spent half their time at Millbrook with Timothy Leary (it’s OK if that causes a Moody Blues echo in your head, it’s just a tiny flashback – it will pass) and so I had long been psychedelisized. The sky had kissed me back.
In my Nyack period, I had not gotten a Draft Physical notice that had been sent to my parent’s home in CT. Thus I was Hersheyed into 1A status and drafted (I had made peace with my parents by then and so, was aware).

Before I left Nyack,, I linked up with the local American Friends Service Committee who helped me in my fight for CO status. I didn’t know it then, but I was to re-connect with the Quakers in California.

So, here I am at SFO and expected to make my way across the airport to connect with a bus going to the Oakland Overseas Replacement Station and then - on to Asia.

Instead, I took a regular bus, and transferred to one that went to the Haight-Ashbury and met a friend of a friend who gave me a little orange pill.

Off to the beach!

When a soldier was transferred overseas, in those pre-computer days, he carried three of the four sets of his records. One for the transfer station, one for the Commanding Officer of the destination base, and (I think) one for the division of the Army that base belonged to.

The fourth and final copy went to a records warehouse in Ohio.

I went to the shore of the Pacific Ocean – near Laughing Sal at the Playland at the Beach amusement park, swallowed my pill, made a small fire and watched my records burn.

I was a free man.
I was a criminal.
I was scared.

I had a plan… and in the morning, after I re-met Laughing Sal, I made my way to the offices of the War Resisters League where I met Paul Obluda. (geez, two pages in and he finally mentions someone from the land!).

Paul was distinguished looking with a professorly manner and he was sincerely interested in my story. I was there saying (in essence) “what do I do now?” and he (in essence) was saying “how the hell should I know?”.

But he cared, and so took me home, to his house near the Panhandle where I met his wife, Dorothy. He was starting a fast the next day and - since I had no particular place to go – I decided to go along.

So next morning there I was, on the granite steps of the federal building with about 20 or so other people including Joan Baez, and Paul Obluda telling the press about the dire circumstance in Biafra where tens of thousands were dying due to war, Cold War politics, and sheer international indifference.

It seems surprising in retrospect but at the time it was just sort of exciting (I mean Joan Baez after all) but it seemed natural enough. From time to time we would sing, or wander about a bit, perhaps use the facilities inside, but for the next 21 days we stayed there – in front of US Attorney Cecil B Poole’s office on the 11th floor.

Once a couple of nuns and a priest from the Berkeley Free Church came and did a protest mass near the fountain in the plaza in front of the steps.

Berkeley Free Church

It was all very dramatic. Particularly the moment when the priest said something about “the waters running red with the blood of our brothers” because just then the nuns dumped some red shark dye into the large fountain – and sure enough, the waters ran red!
To everybody’s surprise, the wind kicked up (as always in SF) and blew the red fountain spray mist onto the front of the building – dyeing it red. The were arrested and charged with federal crimes. They reappear later in my story.

After the three weeks a bunch of supporters came and we all trooped down to the old red house – on Lytton I think, in Palo Alto where The Institute For The Study Of Nonviolence had its offices.

It was a kind of a buffet party – literally a break-fast. Luckily, Paul Obluda (later to become Purusha), warned me not to eat more than a little yogurt as it would make me really ill to eat what looked good - and it all looked soo good!

Coming Up: Meeting The Magician

photo by Neil