Stop, Children, What’s That Sound…

Photo of me in 1965 in Providence, RI, shot with my Nikon by Linda Connor. I was on a 30-day cross-country hitchhiking trip — a “vision quest.” When I got home, I quit my job as an insurance broker and went to work as a carpenter.

I started out to write a book about the ’60s because most of the media coverage (TV documentaries, books, exhibits) in 2017, prompted by “The Summer of Love” theme, didn’t coincide with what I saw happen:

1. in the ’60s
2. in San Francisco

I began by making a list of the ideas and concepts that I learned about in the ’60s. A lot! It was surprising.

Then I thought that if I’m going to take people on a trip — my trip — through those years, I should explain who I am, my background, so readers will know “…where I’m coming from.”

I’m starting with scenes from childhood. Focusing on the past is fun. It’s opening up a suitcase of memories and I’m having a good time remembering good times.I recall scenes from past years, then I run out to the computer and type a few paragraphs about the ’40s, the ’50s, a few about Pacific High School in the ’60s, a few about the Haight-Ashbury district — in no particular order. It’s not an organized way to write a book, but as I go along, the book is taking its own form.

A builder I know once told me, talking about each house he builds, “I fire the bullet and then try to catch up with it.”

I’m starting by describing growing up in San Francisco, what the city was like then, grammar school, summer vacations, high school (in the Haight-Ashbury district) and college and surfing days….

This will be the way I saw the ’60s; I’m not trying to be comprehensive or complete about the era. You can’t make a cohesive narrative about the times because the times weren’t cohesive. It will be purely what I saw happen.

If any of you experienced the ’60s directly, your memories are welcome here…

Note: I’m going to publish the book, bit by bit here. I’m not ready to make a real book out of it yet. I have two other books to get done first.

The posts will all be available under “THE SIXTIES” tab at the top of the blog, so if you want to read about the era, they’ll all be in one place.

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 Stop, Children, What’s That Sound…

  1. One of the memories I have of magical times on the West Coast in 1967 involve your picking me up hitchhiking, coming down into Big Sur in your micro bus (you had to drive around a small landslide: “Angry mountain,” you explained). You put me up for the night at the ranch where you were working, building a house “with an irrational number of square feet.” I seem to remember you had put two chicken houses together, cleaned them up, and were living in them with wife and son. One side you slept in, the other side housed a harpsichord (or perhaps a clavichord). There was a bathhouse, I think, a short distance away.

    In the evening, we walked to another residential building where your co-workers were living. I remember the interior as being all golden lamp light and wood. I was asked not to smoke inside (I soon gave up smoking entirely). Then we went out onto a bluff, looked out over the Pacific and listened to the coyotes in the early darkness.

    The next day, you delivered me out onto the highway with a good supply of oatmeal cookies, courtesy of your spouse.

    The kindness you and your wife showed me, the beauty of your surroundings, the attitude you had toward life, your sense of humor and high seriousness — they all have stayed with me over the years. It is a memory I cherish.

  2. Good project Lloyd! A lot of the stuff written about the 60’s makes it sound pretty irresponsible: all pot smoking, LSD trips and free love (a real misnomer, love is never free and you are never free of love.) I wasn’t on the west coast until ’68 so I really know very little, but it had a very serious side that wasn’t as much fun to report on. Your account will be most interesting to me.

  3. Lloyd, I love this project! I’ll be reading along avidly! I am very interested in the 60’s, and in San Francisco during that era. I don’t have a lot to add, memory-wise–I was born in L.A. in 1965 to decidedly non-counterculture parents! (Things did pick up in the early 70’s, however…) I am endlessly fascinated by your life and experiences!

  4. Hello Lloyd, I was born and raised in So. Cal. 1948, started surfing at 14 on rented surfboard in Hermosillo Beach, went to Hawthorne High School. Went through the alcohol, drugs thing. Surfed a lot. Never saw San Francisco in the sixty’s. Hitch-hiked east with a surfboard, a short board, gave it away in Florida, went north to Harrisburg, Pa, then back west, ended up in Honolulu 1969.
    Lot of memories, some good, some bad, mental wards. Many jobs, counted fifty from age 15 to 30. Things changed for the better after Jesus saved me. Now in coastal Texas, sailing small boats.
    A carpenter all my life once settling down. Someone once told me if you could remember the sixties, you weren’t there, LOL.
    I enjoy you writings and books. Your friend Godfrey’s (?) little sailboat, the Pelican, nice stuff, also what he did for his daughters.
    Thanks, Lloyd, for your contributions.
    Mike

  5. Sweet stuff, Lloyd. Glad I found you… again.

    My dad scared the beejesus outta me on my first visit to The City inn’56 when he told me that those metal grates on the sidewalks were how the Chinese captured white kids. He was a gentle racist from Minnesota where our town (Spam Town) had one Chinese family and one black.

    Eleven years later Eric Utne and I hitched through on our way to San Jose. And three years after that, on the run from the draft and FBI, I lived in a backyard cabin on Potrero Hill that was just a couple feet bigger all around than my waterbed. My trusty Peugeot 10-speed knew all the hill-less routes through town and down to Menlo Park and beyond. Acid on San Gregorio and weekend dumpster diving for veggies at the produce market at the end of Army Street kept me going until finally escaping to Vancouver Island, discovering your books and learning to build houses, gigantic stone fireplaces and fool around with boats.

    I guess you know how much you influenced a world full of wannabe builders and back-to-the-landers. If not, I’m telling you…thank you.

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