photo by Neil
Neil’s recounting of how he got to Struggle made me think about our overlapping history as southern California kids at UCLA in the 60’s. We didn’t know each other in school, but met later in L.A. before moving north.
Our 3rd grandchild was born a month ago, 3 days after the death of my mom at age 98. We were with my mom as she died a good death, and we were at the birth of the sweet Samuel Joseph Dee Dellenbach. I find myself thinking of endings and beginnings, so here is a story ~
The Beginning: How I got to the Mountain
I left a 1950’s small town childhood of lemon groves, potlucks and church-going in order to study art at UCLA when L.A. was the center of the art world. I lived off of frat. row where I saw what I didn’t want to become. In contrast, the art department was vibrant with creativity and inquiry. I chose art school hoping I would find beatniks, intellectuals and weirdoes that would nurture my budding desire to become an interesting, eccentric person, having no idea what any of that really might really mean.
I read UCLA's Daily Bruin and was aware that Neil was editor. I remember the uproar when the paper came out against the Vietnam War and the draft – “Hell No We Won’t Go!”. And against Gov. Ray-Gun’s imposition of tuition on our free university system – “Our Position, No Tuition!”.
I saw a flyer advertising a yogi lecturing at the student union. I hadn't heard about gurus, meditation or odd body contortions, but was taken in b the exotic poster. After the lecture, I left the Student Uion and found a Rock and Roll band playing outside - some long-hair belting out – “Well it’s 1, 2, 3 what are we fighting for? I don’t give a damn, next stop is Vietnam…”. Some obscure group called Country Joe and the Fish, looking like they knew something I didn’t.
I soon went to the big Teach-In on the war and heard David McReynolds talk about non-violence, resisting the draft and doing prison time for refusing induction into the army. I read the Geneva Accords in the library. I stood in the weekly vigil for peace where I heard people were needed to sit-in against Dow Chemical’s recruiting students on campus. I sat-in, got my picture in the paper and started to meet beatniks and peaceniks and other interesting types.
The Dean of Students wanted to throw the sit-in’s sponsoring group off campus (First Amendment? What First Amendment?) It was as if the Free Speech Movement had never happened and Mario Savio never spoke truth to power. At the hearing I met Prof. Don Kalish, Chair of the Philosophy Dept, a bemused radical luminary who would eventually hire Angela Davis, sending the University and much of the State of California into convulsions. Don would become a political mentor and dear friend.
He took me out for a drink, tried to seduce me, and ended up offering to pay me $30 a week to organize a draft resistance office during Martin Luther King’s Vietnam Summer of 67. I said no to the seduction and yes to the organizing, knowing $30 went a long way then, and would do just fine. The pieces were falling in place. Soon the bridges would be burned and this girl would not look back. May the organizing begin and the war end.
Months later Bill Garaway walked into our Resistance Office after burning his draft card in New York. We took up together. David Harris came through for speaking gigs. We would sit up late at our place in Santa Monica, smoking good weed – Michoacan, Zacatecas Red, or some such – and listen to Joanie’s latest LP’s while David moaned with love sickness.
After a few years, Nixon’s Cointelpro and the LAPD Red Squad were on to us. We were tailed everywhere, Bill’s parents were hassled by the FBI, and a Grand Jury was investigating some projects I was involved with. Time to leave town.
We became caretakers of Paradise Ranch in the Chirichahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona near the Mexican border. We were We were way back on a dirt road an hour from Safford Federal Prison where many draft resistors were doing time, David and many L.A. Resistors included. We lived with Leonard Garaway and his wife Jo, and with Billy and Evie Spire. I would later act as midwife when Zem Zem was born on a group trip to L.A. The ranch was owned by the granddaughter of Andrew Mellon. The famly's New York estate was where Tim Leary and Richard Alpert (AKA Ram Dass) conducted their famous acid tests.
Buddhist Resister and singer Jeffery Shurtleff brought a guy named Gerry Masteller with him to visit the Ranch on their way to the peyote fields of Texas. On the way back, they shared the bounty, and 26 years later Gerry and I married.
The Sheriffs of Cochise County, "The County Too Tough To Die”, busted Evie, Billy and myself for drugs at the ranch on the eve of my 25th birthday. The owner of the Ranch neglected to tell us that Tim Leary was he first caretaker and that every caretaker since had been busted for drugs. Thank you, Peggy.
By the end of the bust, we had the fat sheriffs moving their guns outside, and singing and dancing to Billy’s music. They didn’t find the fresh peyote buttons in the fridge but found some mescaline we were taking to the guys at the prison to enjoy. Eventually the charges were dropped during my trial. Later the Justice of the Peace called me into his office and suggested I go to law school and move to Douglas so the “illegals” in “his” jail could have representation. Years later I sent the Justice an invitation to my law school graduation, and he called me with his congratulations. I never moved to Douglas, now the center of the storm over undocumented immigration, but I did spend the next 18 years representing the the underdog. Gives me shivers to think about it all.
Jeffery badgered us to move from Paradise Ranch to Struggle Mountain to help out with the garden at the Land in back of the Long House. We had been to Struggle many times, knew lots of folks there and in the area. We moved to the Land in 1970 in Beulah, our psychedelic school bus. Judy Keenan, Carrie, and Larry Falk were living in the front house. Ed Tripp (Sarah Smith’s husband and Lisa’s dad) and Jeffery worked in the garden with us.
Jeffery didn’t tell us the garden was controversial with the Institute for the Study of Non-Violence. David had gotten permission from owner Don Eldridge (who was supporting non-violent groups including Elaine Brown’s Black Panther Breakfast Program in Oakland) to use the frontlands for Institute seminars. The garden was apparently a threat to the Institutes authority over the property, so they held a meeting to tell us to leave. The garden was abandoned for a time, and Struggle took us in.
I had a tree house as a kid, and thought we should have one again. Bill and I were air signs, Oak would be an air sign – so a tree house would be perfect. We roamed the woods between Struggle and The Land until we found the perfect tree near a spring and an evergreen tree to help hide the house since we were squatting illegally on Dahl Ranch property. We found a lovely Oak tree with a strong, broad limb structure to hold the house, and tall enough to allow us to really live up high – on a clear day we could see San Francisco.
Oak was born in a January storm. We named him Oak after the tree. I added Winter to my name for the raging storm that accompanied this huge change in my life. All the Strugglers were with us. Sarah and Iris were midwives. Neil made the birth certificate with moons and stars on it, and everyone signed it. Years later it would be sufficient to get Oak a passport.
Carl Sagen came to a rooftop Indian dinner. Some neighbors found us, always bringing oranges and cookies on later visits. Oak toddled around on our fenced in porch. Finally, when he was two, it was time to get the boy earthbound. We traded places with Jody and Sandy, moving into one of the front land cabins. We still visit the tree – it stands but is much diminished.
Enough said but for the memory of standing alone in the Deer Meadow across Adobe Creek from Struggle, and dancing joyfully, arms up, face to the sun, shouting, “I made it. I made it”.
Peace Now, Peace Always,
|photo by David Chapple|
WINTER AT STRUG, OCT '76
photo by Neil
WINTER AND OAK 1973