A few months ago I did a blog about being a part time hippie in my teen years. I made an occupation of protesting the Viet Nam War with my friends at Place Ville Marie in Montreal. I wore some of the worst outfits in the history of fashion and flowers in my ironed hair. There was one particular purple broadcloth flowing pants and tunic I still remember. My friends always asked me if my father knew what I had on. Of course he had given up on my wardrobe a long time ago, so I just nodded my head.
I was a Seventeen Magazine fanatic and one issue asked their readers to start sending letters to the young men fighting in Viet Nam. It wasn’t too long before I received my soldier’s name in the mail. His name was PFC Dennis Wilker and I wrote him every week. I started receiving letters from him and wish to this day that I had kept them.
On my birthday he sent me a vinyl doll in Vietnamese costume. In every letter he asked me for a picture and after my friends told me that I would scare him away if he saw me I did not send one. I figured they were right in their assumptions and suddenly one day I stopped writing. I felt the same way I have felt most of my life. I just was not good or pretty enough to have someone care about me in my life. It was a mistake I will always remember. No one has the right to forget anyone, especially those fighting in a war.
A year later I heard through one of my friends that he had been killed in action. I felt so badly I had acted poorly that I decided to really help the cause. I started protesting against the war in a large way and wearing tie-dye clothing. I had my war protesting shirts, bandanas and my lime green hippie beads. I was never without them because it was all about freedom of expression and peace for the world. To this day tie-dye remains the one true sign of sixties fashion and peace.
San Francisco and Berkeley California will always remain the point of eternal peace in the world. This is where the hippie movement began and as a teen growing up in Quebec, Canada there was no other place I wanted to be.
Tie-die is still produced to this day and on Saturday I met the "King of tie-dye". Theodore, originally from Michigan, came to San Francisco in the 70’s and started selling hand made leather belts. After dabbling in ceramic pictures and jewelry he started the business that he is known for today. Since the 70's he has made and sold tie-dye in Berkeley. With his lovely wife Carolyn they sell shirts, dresses, children’s clothes all made solely by them with love. They enjoy making the clothing because as he said, it was something that they can be proud of.
Theodore says not a lot has changed through the years they have been selling in Berkeley. Some say you cannot wear tie-dye without someone thinking you are either a pot smoker or going to a Grateful Dead concert. Last year Lauren Pierce brought out a tie dye fashion collection to die for as they say. When Carolyn showed me a beautiful Indian tie-dyed kurti on Saturday it did not spell out a war protesting outfit, it was fashion.
Carolyn and Theodore are institutions on Telegraph Ave and although their corners may change from week to week a trip to Berkeley would not be complete without visiting them. Mark Twain once said,
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.”
So I say it’s time to dig the tie-dye out and protest for peace. It worked once; and maybe we should try it one more time and make ourselves heard again..
I think the younger generation needs to be shown how you really do it!
Text and Images: Linda Seccaspina 2011
Thank You Theodore and Carolyn for making my day!
Lauren Pierce designs from Google
Linda will resume Poetry Corner when she feels better.
Short Shorts- Beware of Dog!