Tony Serra Comes For A Visit

Tony is one of my oldest friends (60 years). We both lived in the Fiji house at Stanford. A fraternity, yes, but a highly unusual one. A lot of unique, non-traditional, and/or eccentric boys. Tony was into philosophy —  Socrates, Plato, Hume, Spinoza, etc. — partying, and howling at every full moon. He at first had a football scholarship, and later worked his way through college.

   Upon graduation (’56), he and his wife Judy took a 4-month Vespa trip all over Europe, and he wrote me a bunch of letters. The one that got me was about taking a  boat from Barcelona to Ibiza, and the dolphins swimming in front of the boat in the moonlight.

   I graduated in ’57, and, along with my wife Sarah, took a boat from NYC to France, hitch-hiked to Milano, bought a new Lambretta, and toured Europe youth-hostel-style for 3 months, California kids out of their country (and state) for the first time, an experience with life-long memories. All because of Tony’s influence.

   In the early 60s he had his law degree and was working for the Alameda county DAs office. I was an insurance broker in San Francisco. We took a trip to Baja, went camping in Mendocino, and would go out to hear music in SF.

In about 1964 or so, I’d tried marijuana, but Tony hadn’t. We went over to his place and I took an ice cube tray, stretched aluminum foil over the top, punctured pin holes in one corner, and made a straw-sized hole in the opposite diagonal corner. Herb is placed on the pinholes, lit, and smoke travels across the ice cubes before being inhaled.

  Tony kept saying, “I don’t feel a thing.” Well, OK, Tony. That night we went to a club in the Fillmore district and saw sax player Art Pepper. Relevant to this (not feeling a thing), check out Tony (who doesn’t get near computers) on Google: here. In a nutshell, we both left our generation in the ’60s and joined up with the counterculture. Never went back…

    Last week he and his 3 boys, Shelter, Ivory, and Chime, stopped by and Ivory shot these photos of me and Tony looking through group photos of us in the early ’50s in my Fiji folder.

Photos by Ivory Serra

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

6 Responses to Tony Serra Comes For A Visit

  1. Tony's life journey commands respect !
    About Black Panthers, I'd like to mention a documentary film : ''Melvin & Jean : An American Story'' by Maia Wechsler.

    Melvin and Jean McNair – former members of the Black Panthers – have been living in Normandy for 40 years. They can't go back to US (where they still risk arrest). Melvin helps potential delinquents and coaches a base-ball team. Jean helps children in their studies. They live in a public low-rental housing estate.
    This is the first time that their story has been told and it's a very powerful documentary about the civil rights movement.–jean_b_2077250.html

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