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Hippies of ’67. Where are they now?

January 21, 2016

Photo on 1-21-16 at 8.23 AM

Daniel Struckman, one of the Fake Hippies of 1967.

Tonight P. and I have a date with Kim Thompson.  Yes, the Kim Thompson, the same one alert readers will remember from a few posts ago when I wrote about the “fake hippies of 1967.”  She was a regular, sitting at the communal table down in the dining room in the Lodge at the University of Montana.

Anyway, P. and Kim and I are heading downtown to the Pub Station here in Billings to listen to some reggae music.  Most of what I know of reggae comes from a local public radio program hosted 20 years ago by Todd Eagle.

Some of my many readers, well two of my tens of readers had asked me what became of the hippies from the fabled Lodge.  Well, as you recall, we ate our meals in a huge dining room that was a daylight basement in the student union building, aka the Lodge.

You entered through the red-tiled hallway, down a short flight of stairs, showed your student ID to another student, then grabbed a tray and dishes and silverware, and went down a cafeteria line.

We hippies always ate together, and usually we sat for hours.  Our table was in the center of a sea of tables, so you couldn’t miss us.  We looked funny.  Unlike the mass of well-groomed people, our hair stuck out.   We smoked cigarettes and drank gallons of coffee.

I lost a bet with John Herman once, and I stood on the moving dirty tray conveyor, riding it until it disappeared through a square window, while I played a blues harp.  We all had them, in a variety of keys.  Mostly we had them in a key compatible with someone playing blues in E.  Of course, nobody had a pitch pipe, so E was whatever.

Where are they now?  Did they become successful adults?  You decide.  My friend John Herman is the only one I know who perished in his struggle with mental illness.  I’ll write about him later, as he was a close friend of mine.

*Kim Thompson became a damned good registered nurse and educator.  She is retired.

*Larry Felton finally got a bachelor’s degree in Mexico and recently retired from a career working for California state government as an archeologist.

*Bill Yenne has written scores of books about subjects like beer, the railroad, and Chief Sitting Bull.

*Steve Spoja sails boats in California.

*Virginia Baker recently retired as a registered nurse and college educator.  She has been married more than 40 years, has at least two grandchildren.

*Skip Reising is still an accomplished guitarist.  He joined a labor union as laborer, retiring with a good union pension.

*Scott Hendryx is a well-respected leather craftsman in Nevada.

*John Herman drove truck for North American Van Lines.  He committed suicide about 20 years ago.

*Linda Sheble’s whereabouts is unknown to me.

*Becky Cuffe married and has children.  They lived in Northwest Montana last I heard.

*Brenda Fleming retired from teaching and at this moment is exploring the world with her husband of nearly 50 years.  She has at least one grandchild.

*Allen Lenhart is retired from roofing and plays guitar in a mega-church in Paulsbo, Washington.

*Steve Franklin changed his name to Steve Starr and sold antiques.

*Jonna Rhein is a psychiatric nurse in Missoula.

*Mark Fryberger has held a variety of jobs, including chair of the Missoula Housing Board, regular writer for the Portable Wall, blues guitarist, table tennis champion, and groundskeeper for the University of Montana.  He recently retired.

*Jerry Berner traveled the world, finally settling in Big Timber, Montana, to farm herbs and spices.

*Gary from New York.  Don’t know.  Can’t even remember his last name.

*Bob Verduin, I don’t know.  He famously said, “fuck the draft,” and legend says he got drafted into the army.

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