But you haven't seen it till you've run it
In my youth, the catch line to a popular song by the Mamas & the Papas was, "If you're goin' to San Francisco, be sure to wear ...
Illustration by Kevin Howdeshell
In my youth, the catch line to a popular song by the Mamas & the Papas was, "If you're goin' to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." When I was 10, living in New Jersey, shirtless, bell-bottomed and barefoot, a friend and I walked a couple miles to town to get some bubble gum, and heard the song on someone's radio. We didn't feel like walking back up the big hill home, and stopped to rest next to a flower patch. That's when he suggested we put some flowers in our hair and hitchhike, "like real hippies!"
I still remember the ride in the orange VW bug with the purple shag carpet and beads on the mirror, driven by the black guy with the big Afro and round wire-rimmed glasses. He was the first black man I ever talked to.
With a big toothy grin, he asked, "You goin' to San Francisco?" When we got in, he said, "Wish I was in California."
On that short ride, with those few words, I wanted to go to California. And eventually I did, once on my bike, then as a vagabond (hippie?) living out of my car, and finally as a runner, which is the best way of all.