Once upon a time, Telegraph Avenue and its tributaries were home to elegant stores – Abel, Andre Godet, Fraser’s, George Good, Nicole’s, and others. Sprinkled in there were hints of Bohemia, but an intellectual, academic, sophisticated Bohemia – the used book stores and used record stores, the Éclair bakery with croissants, a few stores selling Gauloises.
And then came the Big Changes. As late as 1966, the Espresso Forum banned long-hairs and beards.
The floodgates opened soon after, and they opened swiftly.
By 1967, a Republican candidate for mayor was calling Telegraph Avenue “The Greatest Freak Show on Earth.” Good thinking Captain Obvious!
Click on the jukebox for today’s theme song.
Berkeley was never the pure hippie counterculture lodestar (HA!) that San Francisco was and Telegraph was never Haight-Ashbury. We are smaller, and our brand of counterculture had a bigger dose of radical politics than did San Francisco’s, but we still had our businesses that arose from and catered to the counterculture.
I present here images – mainly advertisements but also photographs – of some of the many counterculture/hippie businesses that sprung up on Telegraph and elsewhere in Berkeley. I have treated political bookstores elsewhere.
I haven’t done a methodical search and what I show here is far from complete. I may yet do that systematic search, but here is a start.
I am especially fond of a building referred to by what it used to be.
Chaldea was a nation that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BC, after which it and its people were absorbed and assimilated into Babylonia (modern southern Iraq). It is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament
Yes, photocopies aren’t inherently counterculture, but there is a definite hippie vibe in this ad.
The point of this photo is the stores, not the car and cops and damage.
On Haste east of Telegraph on the south side of the street, behind the Forum, there was an alley with a number of small stores. They included these:
There were street vendors, many of them, and many with colorful personalities. I have photos of only a few of them – maybe the Great Reading Public can add:
Judy Folkmanis selling her puppets on Telegraph. She died in 2016, with her puppet business still thriving.
While on the street, let’s revisit a couple of the prominent counterculture vehicles.
As I said – there were many more. If you know of others, and especially if you have photos of any, please let me know.
And – Note to Haters whose vision for Berkeley has no room for character – I am not stuck in the past. I am fully present in 2018. I am, however, interested and try to learn from the past. I am happy to read the adjectives in these ads – outrageous, flashy, groovy, frantic, and trippy, and to read a call out to “Berkeley Free People.” I am glad that we are not one big Bay Street in Emeryville.
I showed this post to my friend.
Even in his recently re-designed Danish modern quarters with its clean lines and thoughtful proportions tailored to the human body he has this framed and on his wall.
On a credenza near this he has a binder filled with his collection of Pepsi Generation advertisements like this:
“I miss it all – not the Pepsi Generation, the Free People of Berkeley thing. And I don’t. Both. Sometimes it seems like it’s all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago. Phil Lesh wrote and sang that one.”
I had a pretty good idea of what my friend would say when I asked him this question: “What do you think of the post?”
After telling me that maybe I should learn how to take a picture of a bound newspaper without it being all wavy and distorted, and came to the point.