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Things that happened that marked our days

Happenings are actually moments in our lives. I like this quote from 85 year old Nadine Stair that is in the book “Full Catastrophe Living” , by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. Mark Abramson uses this book for the Mindfulness meditation classes he teaches.
“Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.”
So let’s write about, and share those moments we had together.
I took a stress reduction class into S.F. County Jail for about 8 years. Used "Full Catastrophe Living" and read a few wonderful pages out of it every week. Had dinner with Jon Kabat-Zinn before he did a talk as part of a series to benefit San Francisco Zen Center. Nice guy, and even better he is the son-in-law of one of my heros, Howard Zinn.
Judith (Beeger)



flyer save by Woodstock Bob

Play written by Peter Music. Main character being Zem as the little queen. Still being performed at the Children's theatre in Palo Alto from time to time. Base on the book illustrated by Jake Pierre.

I grew up in Palo Alto and went to Walter Hayes Elementary School, right across the field from Palo Alto Community Center. I was in two or three plays at the Children's Theater, one being Rumple Stiltskin. This would be maybe 1956!

Front House Kitchen
Parties from the past are drifting through my mind this morning, sometimes for actual reasons like a birthday or a holiday, or because of a full moon. But sometimes they just burst out of nowhere. One night in the Front House kitchen, a group of us gathered for some now forgotten reason, and the energy was ripe for something to happen, and it started with someone tapping out a beat on the counter top, then somebody else found a small drum or started clapping in time. I remember grabbing two large wooden spoons and hitting hanging frying pans and a collender making them sound like cymbal crashes or gongs. Pretty soon the whole room was vibrating with a primal rhythm of some wild jungle drumming celebration of the gods of Summer Nights. Everybody in the room was an intregal part of the whole throbbing spontaneous orchestra, weaving and dancing in & out of the irresistible rhythm. It filled the room and got louder, punctuated with screams and snatches of singing, and attracted anyone within earshot.
New members walked in the door, burst into smiles and joined in. It went on for a long, long time and finally drifted away into silence and a group yell as the final exclamation point........ and probably an attempted group hug.

Halloween Party
Pictures of the annual Struggle Mountain Halloween Party can be found here.

The 1986 Struggle/Land Reunion
[[1986 Reunion|86AUGreunionsmiles.jpg]]
photo by Neil

More pictures of the 1986 Reunion can be found here.

Weddings & Births
Pictures of weddings are here and births are here.

Walnut Orchard fire
There was also a German
woman who set the walnut orchard afire while cooking on a camp stove.
She had a kid or two and later she passed thru Lama Fnd. when I was
there-her name is gone too.

She and her spouse were English, and I don't know where they went. Pretty awful to burn 10 acres in 10 minutes while trying to cook a bowl of oatmeal
for the tikes. Billy and I fed them and gave them some supplies, but
that's all I know.

I had been away for a few days and returned to find the walnut orchard and hillsides scorched. Billy told me, "They can't evict you for having a fire." Ah, now there's a silver lining. Yes, how horrible for the ones who started it with their camp stove; but a potent reminder to the rest of us about fire danger.
That was the fire where Neil Young came to help and was overcome with smoke inhalation. Or so I was told.

Yes and it burned so fast that you could jump the fire line and get behind it and put it out from the other side. Neil Young was there to help and ended up getting oxygen from the paramedics on the edge of the road bordering Stallings property.


After the Firre

photo by Michael Emrys

photo by Neil

Names and interesting facts
FluEllen- came from Earth Ranch (Rancho Diablo) at the begining with Paul Fox, Gay Gorman (Garaway), Kenny and Amy, and me. Hooked up with Fred from Black Mountain & built a platform in the fault, but moved to Fla. before building on it. She had a beautiful but brainless golden retriever named Brenden that got killed by a car down the hill. Steve Busch- Came from Lone Pine, was our first carpentry teacher, led us in digging the spring box hole near the cookshack, named us ("This is The Land and we are The People"). Gary and Barbara-from Independence, were already living in their big bus at the spring box when the backlands started, knew Steve from Owens Valley. Had 2 or 3 kids. Moved back to Independence, later divorced. Rose- Built the Rose cottage & drove Steve Busch nuts in the process. "The yellow Rose of Texas" I always thought. I heard from someone that she was in southern New Mexico in the 80's.
The Institute was calling The Land "The Land" before I moved up there from the Mt House down on Moody Rd. Janice Labo and her kids Kimmie and David, and Will Kirkland, were living there. So was Craig Rowell. When Carrie and I moved up only Craig was there. Janis and the gang had moved to East Palo Alto. Iris and Chris had lived in the attic but Iris had moved to Struggle and Chris was in prison for draft resistance. I think I must have been there a year or so before Bill and Winter built their place in the oak tree across Page Mill. They were the first "backlanders". What year was all that? I think Carrie was 3 or 4, so 1969 or 70. She just turned 43!

The co-counseling craze
I missed out on it.

It was very wet and self-indulgent, not unlike a number of other activities.

Co-counseling taught me more about living in present time than anything I experienced on the mountain. Clare, I don't think it was self-indulgent because if you stuck with it there was a sense of really working on your life and improving it for the better. I've called upon it's principles and practice at various times in my life. It profoundly effected how I raised my two sons, who are now sensitive and caring adults. I watched my wife use it to bravely face incurable cancer every day that she remained alive. Because of it, partially at least, she was still more in the here and now than anyone else around her and her presence would still light up the room. I used co-counseling to face my growing fear of living without her and to remain clear in mind and spirit after she was gone. I've used it's ideas to understand other people and their sometimes incomprehensible actions in the world. It wasn't a craze for me, nor for Norma, nor I'm sure for many others who got into it. There are many tools out there for living clearly, at your most creative level. Co-counseling is definitely one of them. I'm sorry that you missed out on it, Sandy. But, hey, you're still cool. Thanks for starting up all the little dialogues.

Neil, I was being silly, reverantly irreverant. It was not intended as a jab at co-counseling and certainly not meant to discount the value either you or Norma found in the process. I cherish the sessions I shared with Norma during her illiness and those I shared with each of you over the years. I have carried the the principles of co-counseling into both my work and personal life. I apologize for forgetting how words without context can be dangerous.

Rain and I did co-counseling! I think we even went to a week-end retreat. I have to say that until I got sober in 1981, nothing was of much benefit. Although maybe it was one of the many seeds that was planted to help it finally happen.

I also did co-counseling. I liked it because it helped me to come to terms with my past and be able to reach out to others.
Susie Swanson

The cook shack fire
I think this may be covered elsewhere, but many of us formed a circle around the fire and doused it with buckets. Luckily,
oak trees are not real flammable.

Unfortunately, two or three were still killed by the heat. They ended up being sold for firewood.

There was a small cook shack a ways down the road through The Land. But it was very small and not very clean inside. And I thought we needed a bigger community house to replace it. I thought then that this would change the way we worked together by giving us a house of our own. The main house and barn, and the meeting hall where the Peace Research Institute would have sessions and we would have parties, well they we not really ours. So I thought I should build it and the little cook shack was in the right place. I don't think this now, think I was wrong to believe that structure could change spirit in such a way. But that's another story.

So I started building, setting posts in the ground next to the small cook shack, 20' x 30', the golden rectangle (not exactly I know now, but close), with 4' centers cause I did not have a lot of materials, and which I eventually made rigid by nailing two layers of ship lap planking from the rooms of the military academy in Palo Alto. Over the next 4 months, I think that's how long it took, some helped and some didn't. We went down to the military academy that was going to be torn down and hauled truck loads of lumber away from it. I have lots of stories about that adventure which I'll tell later. The new community house grew.

"Little" Michael objected to tearing down the small cook shack. He said that there were a lot of memories with it, and that I should find another place to build the community house. In compromise I just left the little shack up next to it. Then, I think while we were putting up the framing, someone asked why it was still standing and that it was in the way. So I said tear it down. This made Michael angry, and he was not appeased by the growing new house in its place.

The center 15' section of the house was raised, like Tommy had in his cabin which I learned from him kept the floor warm. The center 15' of the roof above we covered with foggy transparent 3 mil plastic, which was very pretty showing the oak trees above. We built a 3 level sauna in the back lower section, with vents facing the raised part so that when heating the house there would also be a sauna. I built a 300 gallon redwood bathtub in Purusha's shop in the main barn, with trapezoidal sides sloping out. This was heated by pipes in the barrel stove in the sauna. In the end there were screens on the windows, a breakfast nook in the front lower section, and a balcony above it.

We finished it! And had a meeting inside and I thought it was working. But there was a telling moment in that meeting. Three young men had come to The Land and asked me if they helped finish the house, could they live in it, sleep in the balcony until they built their own? I said sure! And they worked very hard for the last few weeks of the construction helping to get it done. But in the meeting people were saying that no one should live in it, a good idea I suppose, but many who said this had never helped to build it. The young men came to me while this was going on and said that I had promised they could live in it, and now this was not being permitted. I said "Don't worry. They have nothing to say about it."

A week later there were two women visiting and they asked me if they could use the sauna. I said to be careful because it was not completely fire proofed, and to make sure that everything was out, to pour water on the wood frame around the stove, etc. They promised they would, but I should have been there. Later that evening I heard from my teepee the shout of "Fire!!" from the top of the hill. I looked up and saw a little flame rising over the crest, but when I reached the top I saw a huge fire, flames 100' into the air. There was nothing to be done. When the plastic roof burned, balls of burning plastic flew up into the air like big fire bombs. It was a sight!

I stood by and watched it burn. I remember someone giving me a hug, and others desperately throwing pails of water on it. I remember thinking "They are not supposed to have it." and later that at least it was finished before it was gone. I thought then that the guests had left something burning, which they told me they had not and were very careful. [...] [I]t was probably me, building a sauna and letting some one use it before it was fire proof, if something like that ever could be fire proofed at all.

The Palo Alto Fire crew managed to get a truck out to the site. They told us that we were very lucky there was not a breath of wind that night. If there had been any wind, the whole hillside would have been on fire. As it was the fire went straight up and nothing else burnt, though I see on this page that some oak trees died. The next day there was nothing but a pile of ashes, not even a bit of charred wood. It was some fire!

You know, it was a loss that our community house burnt down. But nothing is permanent, and just a short year or so later everything on The Land was torn down. So I am glad and proud to have finished the community house, and strangely content that it burnt down with nothing left, cremated before the authorities could tear it apart into rubbish. And even though I knew back then that The Land would be taken away from us, as I thought then because of the disasters that would happen, and said as much with a lot of frustration, I want you to know that I miss it terribly. The Land was one of the most beautiful places that I have lived with many of the most wonderfully loving people.


Birth of Nancy's baby
I can't remember much, but I picture this happening at Donna's house.
Yes Sarah and I were there and maybe Iris too.

Harvesting walnuts and drying them on screen doors.
Mmmmm, good.

Moving lumber
When the treehouse in the Fault was torn down, I asked some people to help me move the scrap lumber down to my house. I did this by the simple expedient of buying a case of beer and declaring a party. It worked. People pitched in; I think that's David with his back to the camera, then Bob, then Linda, then Leslie and finally someone I can't identify.


photo by Michael Emrys

That's Bob guiding the truck down. On the truck are David , Philipé, and Jody. I can't be sure who the guy on the far side is...might be Robert. I don't know who was driving that day, Billy?


July, 1975

photo by Michael Emrys

Sandy helped too.
photo by Michael Emrys

These photos conjure visceral memories of physical beauty and competence; whilst everyone fully inhabitated their young and capable bodies. Thanks for the memories, I have revisited them a thousand times and still haven't worn the wheels off.

Every time I saw Sandy, visions of my Indian woman, I felt that trembling crush that I had on her. I never told her though.


Long Hall Potlucks, Gatherings and Dances

Pictures of some of the gatherings in the Long Hall can be found on The Long Hall Page.

Big House meetings
Tommy, David, Trigg, Rain,Robert, Ann, Dianne
photo by Jim Arnold

Mark, Dianne, Sierra Leslie, Gary, Maria, Kathy and Kim
photo by Jim Arnold

Breakfast at Duartes. (Rain, Robyn-Clare, looks like Phylis holding Sierra next to her) We always had to
sample some of Emma's homemade berry pies afterwards.
photo by Jim Arnold

I got to talking to one of my neighbors the other night, and it turned out that he was living in the Palo Alto area about the same time we were on the Land. So we got to talking about places that we both knew and it turned out that one of them was Duarte's. What a kick!

Fire training
photo by Jim Arnold

Court Days
photo by Jim Arnold

The fight to save "The Land"
photo by Jim Arnold


photo by Michael Emrys

Michael writes: This is a reproduction of the actual poster made by me. I personally find it more dramatic than the version that the paper ran.
By the way, I think the quote is by Billy Wheatley. I do not believe it was intended so much as a challenge thrown at the bulldozer and its
driver as encouragement to Land people to confront it peacefully in the manner that had been discussed and decided upon. Billy and I talked
about this later and agreed that this was the case.

Photo by Michael Emrys


Bulldozer Day

Photo by Michael Emrys

"Building Permit - issued by the voting, respectable citizens which live on the premises. All work is
continually inspected by the carpenters and nearby observers. This permit is retroactive and
includes any material manifestation which have, are or will occur. US"


Cisco and Oak were both born on the mountain. The expulsion from the land was surely the first time
they'd seen armed men there. They hung together. Neil



photos by Neil

Chopping Wood

Photo by Jim Arnold

photo by Jim Arnold

Kathy and Tommy
photo by Jim Arnold

photo by Neil

Cruising the Pathways
MAY '72

photo by Neil

Brush Clearing Day May 1974
Photo by Neil Reichline

The Barn being taken down
photo by Court Tefft

Please add other events that you can think of. Add Stories to these headings or pictures if you have them. This is our site, add whatever you remember.

Art's Chili Bowl and Watergate

Mark building his tower (and Bonzini his castle)

The front garden shower with HOT water

The footbridge across the marsh from the barn

The pallet sidewalk in front of the barns - to the big house etc.

Replacing the swamp bridge.

The rattlesnake bite

The fire

Celebrations (and special boogies)

Backlands Concert at the base of Lone Oak


photo by David Chapple

The Healing Festival

Outdoor shower set up for the Healing festival


pphoto by David Chappel

Carl Sagan's visit

Alan Ginsburg's visit

The treehouse restaurant


Anyone remember where this was?


photos by Neil

The Peoples Union Co-Op Farm
photographer unknown

photo by Neil

My LA film partner John Sharaf and I made a film at the People's
Union farm over a period of three years. It was a 100 acre organic farm in
the middle of San Joacquin Valley agribusiness country. Many folks from the
land and Struggle occassionaly drove down to help during planting and
harvest periods. The farm was run by Joe Crampton, who David Harris met
while in prison for draft resistance. JC learned his farming in prison,
which wasn't an ideal place to learn. The farm lasted three years and was
a home for many anti-war GIs, ex-cons, local kids that JC took in from
juvie court and the family that JC and Candy, and later, Lambie had together.
--Neil Reichline

The David Harris campaign for Congress

The Connie Vote in San Diego
photo by Neil


Huevos con Cojones in the Front House kitchen with Tiny

The Vets Against The War convention

The Lockheed Project

Snow on The Land
Photo by Jim Arnold


I remember when Jody and I decided to go "clean up" a campsite in the woods that looked like a trash heap. We hauled out a lot of stuff. I remember feeling a combination of doubt at this vigilante action and self-righteous nature protector. I don't remember whose site it was, but I believe they were none too happy. When I was staying in a tipi below the front meadow area, my guitar and backpack were ripped off. I decided to go live in Menlo Park for a while as this creeped me out.


Shortly before I left to go to Canada, you and Jody came by my teepee and told me that you were cleaning up and that some people were angry about it. But I felt proud of you then, though I did not say it. You were right. Maybe I know how to say it now. We all knew to respect each others places. We all knew to respect each others bodies. We all knew to respect each others minds. But what to do when the land was not respected?

I think now that we do have to confront each other at times. Anger is rightly a part of love. The danger is not anger, but rather not feeling the pain of it, which you did feel. I often acted against others will and felt then regret and uncertainty. But to do nothing is another kind of action often with terrible consequences. Now when I act, I do with regret but with greater certainty. Some things are just right even though they contradict so many of our principles. You were right to act in the face of your doubts.

I remember now, and felt then, the shining beauty, the thrilling freedom of my almost one year on The Land. I miss it all terribly and wish I had stayed a bit longer, even as I remember my frustrations at the difficulties of our self-government. I feel despair now watching the horrors of the Middle East, the endless political bickering in congress, approaching environmental disasters that we were blessed to be innocent of knowing back then. It is, like your title says, about self-government, and the contradictions, the paradoxes that we must face so that we can live in peace on The Land.