In the beginning was Greyhound.
Leaving a discussion of the bus in American racial history and the bus in popular culture and the bus in the farm worker movement to another time and place – in the beginning was the hippie bus. In 1964 Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters crossed the United States in the first and Most Iconic hippie bus, “Further.”
Or – in other words:
The bus became a metaphor. You were either on the bus or off the bus. And Neal Cassady driving the Prankster bus. Oh my – the Davey Crockett of the counterculture was leading a generation away.
Let’s throw in a could more icons with the bus – with Wavy Gravy at Woodstock.
Hippie buses proliferated. Many and many.
And the Beatles got in on the act, with their Magical Mystery Tour, featuring a neat and proper psychedelic bus.
I wanted to look at the bus in popular culture, but must resist mission creep. Must stay with hippie buses. They boomed.
And then the tide went out. Hippies went away, and with them their buses. But not completely, at least/especially in Berkeley. We still have a few full-blown hippie buses around town. One is “Feel the Love” –
And then there is the Cool Bus. School minus S and h.
Thirdly (awkward -ly, no?), is the Ecology Bus. Rick says that this is not a hippie bus. He almost refused to photograph it. I say – it’s in.
Also wobbling between being a hippie bus and not being a hippie bus is the Hare Krishna bus.
Out for a Sunday morning coming down walk, I stumbled on this gem on California just north of Russell. Okay, I admit, I confess – it had Florida plates. It may have just been visiting. But it was HERE. And it is very hippie:
On Woolsey there is the Ecstatic Dance mini-bus. That’s my name for it.
On California is the Locust Songs van/camper. An artist, who specifically rejects healing and hippies. But who has a van/camper that kind of looks like a hippie van/camper. Just sayin’.
Here is a photo that the Artist Known as Locust posted showing him in front of the van/camper:
And here are a few more homegrown photos, taken by the Quirky Berkeley Project:
Before the final act, a hodge-podge of buses/campers/vans – hippie vehicles or vehicles that evoke the ethos of hippie vehicles.
Last and NOT least, the Volkswagen Type 2 Microbus, the second model introduced by Volkswagen. It was first manufactured in 1950, but came to great fame in the hippie years, earning the nickname “hippie van.” Freddy Chavez and I shared the use of a VW Microbus in Delano in the summer of 1968. As was the case with many microbuses, we gave ours a nickname – the “Shitmobile.” I have a photo of it somewhere. I will try to find it. I know that you are dying to see it.
We have our share of VW microbuses in Berkeley. Some are embellished:
Most are not.
After the VW Microbus came American knock-offs, many of which served with honor as hippie buses. Here is one from the southside. Standing in front of it is Imogen. Imogen vehemently and consistently denies the existence of quirk:
If this is no quirk (noun), there can be no quirky (adjective). In which case this page does not exist. So this is just a dream we dreamed one afternoon so long ago?
The hippie buses are mostly but not entirely gone. Ditto the hippies. My friend is not gone. I showed him these photos. He looked up at me. “You forgot the most famous Berkeley bus of all time.” I said –
“Elaine getting on the bus in front of Cafe Bed in The Graduate?” He said, “Well, that’s number two. Number one – ” he showed me this photo.
“Forest Gump – dude – Forest Gump.” I brought him back to the hippie buses and vans here. He nodded. “I used to live in one of these.” The photos?