Coming Home from the War
Phillip I. Elkins © 2006
The Summer of Love
(People have been asking me to read my stories again on my radio show, “LA Sounds” on KZFR which I may do some other time, meanwhile I’ll post some of it here. This is the cleaned up version. The original version is on Amazon under the same name)
It was 1967. I had just gotten back from Vietnam a couple of days before and met a few new friends at a love-in at Griffith Park in L.A.
The crowd seemed excited as it pushed toward the band. There was a thin guy holding a microphone and staring out at the crowd. He was wearing tight, black leather pants with long, wavy black hair and was seductively checking out the girls in the crowd who seemed to be swooning back at him. There was an electric organ playing, a drummer, a guitarist and the guy in the leather pants just standing in front must be the vocalist but he wasn’t singing. Hummm… these hippies sure got funny ways.
The music seemed to go on for quite a while with the guy in the leather pants just standing there and just looking kinda angry. But the crowd didn’t seem to mind. They were excitedly dancing around and looking like they were in a trance or another world. Well, maybe it was the marijuana they were smoking or the “grass” as they called it, smoking it right out in the open like it was legal or something but they sure were grooving’ as they put it.
Finally the guy holding the mike began moaning and groaning and singing: “Oh, yeah, I’m a back door man…. No you don’t know what the little girls understand….”
Man, he must have known what he was talking about because the girls sure were screaming back and hooping and hollering. “Yeah, baby, yeah, we understand,”
“You men eat your dinner; eat your pork and beans…. I eat more chicken than any man ever seen…. Well, I’m a backdoor man….”
Rainbow, Starshine, Sioux and Luke were singing right along with the guy wearing leather pants and shouting into the mike. “Wow, you know the words. Groovy.” I yelled into Rainbow’s ear. She looked at me and said: “Of course I know the words, Drummer Boy, That’s The Doors, man!”
“The what?” I asked.
“The Doors, man, that’s The Doors. Where you been?”
“Oh, The Doors….” I mumbled having no idea who the they were.
“Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name….” The guy began shouting into the mike.
“Hello, I love you… Let me jump in your game.”
“Groovy, baby.” I sang out.
“Love me two times, baby. Love me twice today. One for tomorrow, one just for today.”
“Yeah, baby. Love me two times.” I sang into Rainbow’s ear. Hey, why not. Everybody’s talking about free love. I can dig that….”Yeah, love me two times, Rainbow….”
Man, everybody was yelling and screaming their hearts out.
The guy in the leather pants then got real quiet and began singing: “Riders on the storm. Into this house we’re born….”
“Groovy, baby but I still want to love you two times.” I mumbled to myself while I looked at Rainbow.
“Yeah, baby, “Gotta love your man….” I sang along with the guy on the stage.
Suddenly the whole crowd, all 20,000 or so of them began screaming like they were going crazy when the guy began singing: “Come on baby, light my fire…. Try to set the night on fire….Yeahhhh….” and the electric organ began ringing out as loud as I’d ever heard any music playing. The crowd got so crazy I actually thought maybe I ought to get out of there even with Rainbow holding onto me and pressing herself right up against me, which by now was without the An Khe jacket on. It seemed a little too intense for me to hang around to see what might happen next but I wasn’t about to leave.
The guy singing tore his shirt off by now too and was slithering around on the stage while the organ played on and on and on…. The crowd was going crazy and calling out: “Take it off, Jim, take it all off.”
I was screaming along with them, “Yeah, Jim, take it all off.” Thinking maybe Rainbow and Sioux and Starshine might do the same. Luke had his shirt off too and by now was down to his boxer shorts. We all had lost our shoes and socks a long time before. I tried to keep my eye on my silk An Khe jacket but by now I was more interested in watching Rainbow dancing around and yelling.
Suddenly, Jim, the guy up on the stage began screaming: “We’re all jived up! We’re all jived up. We’re all jived up.” As he began crabbing himself and then flashing the peace signs with his hands.
“Wow, these hippies got it all over the rest of society” I heard myself say. Suddenly Rainbow began kissing and holding onto me.
Then Sioux, spelled like the Indian tribe, came over to me and held onto me too and began kissing me. Then, believe it or not, Luke and Starshine came up and joined us and we’re all hugging and dancing together in a group. Starshine began kissing me too but when Luke tried to kiss me, I guess my “uptight hang-ups” as the hippies called it, came into play. I couldn’t bring myself to kiss Luke. “Guess I’m not that hip yet.” I said to him as I went from Rainbow’s lips to Sioux’ face and lips to Starshine’s lips, making sure to avoid Luke altogether with each go round.
Jim up on the stage might be yelling about how jived up we all are but personally, things never looked better to me. Anyway you look at it; this sure beat the hell out of what I was doing only a few days ago for the past year in Vietnam.
Phil getting ready to leave Vietnam