Deb’s Psychedelix Saturdays – On Becoming a Hippie – Chapter 25
Written by Liam Sweeny on August 29, 2020
Deciding to move out of the city was hard. We were feeling settled for the first time since we had been together, but Paul was out of work again, and we had unexpectedly come into some money between our tax return and a small inheritance. It was enough to get us resettled in our new location. We gave our notice and packed everything up. Amber agreed to help us move. Even with our car and her VW bus we had to make several trips back and forth from the city to the coast. We were finally down to the last trip. Paul took the kids with him, and I drove Amber’s vehicle with Amber in the front seat. We didn’t get far when the rain started. It wasn’t bad at first, but when I went to turn on the windshield wipers, they didn’t work. Now it started to pour. I finally found a place to pull over and wait it out and soon realized that it wasn’t letting up any time soon. With both front windows open, amber and I manually moved the wipers back and forth often enough to enable me to drive, s–l–o–w–l–y, slowly, slowly. I have to admit, it was a good trick negotiating all of the curvy mountain roads that led to the coast. Of course, once we arrived on the other side of the mountains, the rain stopped.
Our new home was located in Hebo, Oregon. It was a large house, much larger than we needed for ourselves. Although the upstairs wasn’t completed, it was fine for our purposes being mostly one huge open space. Jessie loved one of the rooms upstairs which had a half-sized door that adults had to duck to enter through. We named it the “Hobbit Room.” The two kids shared a long downstairs room that could easily have been split into two rooms. The windows in that room looked out onto the enclosed front porch which faced Highway 101, the coastal road. The heating system was a wood furnace which, when stoked properly, stayed lit all night long. There was a large backyard with the Nestucca River running on the side. And, it was an ideal location two doors down from the Hebo Inn, a short walk to the tiny red Elementary School, Post Office and Hebo Market. We felt that we could stay here for a while, and our rental was open-ended. The Hebo Inn was noted for the backwards n’s on its sign.
We were now located where Highway 22 joined with Highway 101, a prime location to meet fellow travelers. And meet them we did. We decided that the house was more than large enough to share with others, so when we picked up hitchhikers, who were plentiful, we offered to let them stay for any trade they cared to make. We had people do laundry and other household chores, gardening and small repairs. Others gave us various items they had made or found along the way. Everyone contributed something and were happy to do it. A few people even stayed for a few days. I always made pancakes in the mornings. Before long, we had people knocking on the door telling us that they’d run into someone on the road who had led them to us. They were told that for whatever they wished to trade, they could get a room, a hot shower and pancake breakfast in the morning. We were suddenly running an underground bed and breakfast for hippies. In all fairness, not everyone was a hippie, but most were.
A couple of notable temporary residents were a man from Israel who had met someone in Ohio that told him to look us up. We were floored. Word had certainly gotten around. Another one was a man who was doing a peace walk from the Peace Arch in Vancouver to Nicaragua carrying a large silk banner promoting peace and supporting the Sandinista rebels. Jessie connected strongly with this quiet but strong man. They talked often during the week he stayed with us. He promised to send her a postcard for her birthday if he actually made it to his destination but was honest with her about his doubts that he would make it alive. He shared with all of us that yes, he felt scared sometimes and had already encountered some uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations, but he was committed to his cause and that kept him going. When Jessie’s birthday came and went without a postcard, I expected my now 6-year old daughter to be devastated. She took it all in stride reminding me that he thought he might be risking his life for the cause he believed in. She told me that she wasn’t sure that she would ever do the same but thought that he was an exceptional person and brave for doing it.
It was easier than usual to make new friends here because we already knew our old neighbors and friends who had moved from Portland. Jim had lived in the area before and had lots of friends and connections. Paul got a job right away, and I met other parents who occasionally needed childcare. Once again, I managed to do some wonderful trades which included trading for fresh caught salmon and another one that I’ll write about in another chapter. We finally had lots of other kids around that were our kids ages. Up to that time, we rarely had friends who had children. This was wonderful! There were parties and potlucks and music. Before long, we started hosting a weekly Open Mic at The Riverhouse in Pacific City. It was located minutes from the beach and right along the Nestucca River. We settled quickly and were happy.
We also started writing songs together again. We had written one or two in Portland, including one about the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, but were so busy trying to get by, there was little time for composing. Now, we wrote “875” together, about getting busted in Disneyland and “No Free Lunch” about the Reagan presidency. We also wrote “Lord, Help This Boy” a funny song about different walks of life. I started writing on my own as well and wrote a song about living in Tillamook County and another one about Mt. Hebo. Mt. Hebo was on the coastal range.
It overlooked five snowcapped mountains in two directions (Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Ranier, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson) and the Pacific Ocean in another direction.
The view was breathtaking. At the summit was an air force station that was off-limits to the public. We weren’t supposed to be anywhere near it, but it was unmanned, and we often broke some of the rules that we thought were irrelevant.
Life was good, the kids were happier than ever, we were making wonderful friends and focusing on being good parents, partners and musicians. This was the life we’d been searching for … finally.