In 2010, I attended the Paul McCartney concert with my awesome friend Emily in San Francisco at what was then called AT&T Park. I have no idea what that park is called now. It’s now the baseball stadium for the San Francisco Giants and it’s right on the bay. I’ll never forget that experience with Emily who always called me “Beatles Mary” because I’m a total, lifelong Beatles fanatic and she was as well. We were both single moms with pretty much grown kids and all the complications that come along with that. We also dressed and looked alike — both of us wore tie-dye shirts a lot and our hair long with bangs. People thought we were sisters, and even my own sister said she was my “doppelgänger.” We met at a bar I went to for the great live music all the time called Woodham’s in Santa Clara. I knew a few of the musicians and I always love live music, though I’m not much of a drinker.
We became instant friends and hung out together. One weekend, I booked a cheap room for us in Virginia City, Nevada, which looks like going back in time over 100 years. It’s an old town with almost all of its original buildings about 40 minutes outside Reno in the Sierra Nevadas. The room was at a haunted hotel called The Gold Hill Hotel. And yes, that place is weird and haunted. But the rooms were cheap! I found out online there was a hippie parade on Saturday, and music celebrations with members of Jefferson Starship playing at the Red Dog Saloon the night before.
We didn’t know that it would $60 a person for Jefferson Starship, but we were able to see the entire show from right outside the door and even meet some of the members afterwards. It was groovy. Then we hung out at the saloons for a while before walking back to the spooky hotel where the ceiling fan went backwards.
We donned our best tie-dye for the Hippie Parade and festivities on Saturday. It was a gorgeous, cool, sunny day up in the Sierra Nevadas. We checked all the cool stores including the Mark Twain Book Store and the historic saloons. Some of the gift shops sold relics from the olden days. We sauntered past the Bucket of Blood Saloon where a country western band played and people dressed in period clothing as if they were in the old west yelled and stomped around.
Then it was 12:30, time for the hippie parade! We excitedly stood on the old sidewalk waiting. A few people hung out, but not many. But nothing happened, so we went into one of the stores and asked if maybe we had the time wrong. The lady behind the counter said, “Yes, the parade is happening, but you know hippies are never on time!” We giggled and waited outside again. Finally, the parade began. Yay! Hippies marched down the street and cars filled with more hippies with groovy 60s music blasting out of them slowly cruised behind them. Then there were was a black light float and several others painted groovy psychedelic colors with more hippies smiling, waving and giving the peace signs. I think we cheered the loudest of anyone else there.
The parade lasted about 20 minutes and went right through the Center of Virginia City. At the end of the parade, a lady in a car shouted, “Get out of here, you dirty hippies!” And “Nixon for president!” And all kinds of other stuff. We laughed so hard.
Then it was over. And that was it. Nothing else except a groovy band playing music at the Red Dog Saloon, a place that was famous for hosting 60s bands such as the Charleton’s back in the day.
All that planning for a 20 minute hippie parade! We both laughed so hard we almost cried that we planned a whole weekend around this crazy little hippie parade. But we still had a wonderful time even though the hotel spooked us out.
Emily called me yesterday while I was at a gas station store in Weed, California. I was driving down from Eugene, Oregon to spend a couple of weeks in California — to see Paul McCartney and my grandkids and kids and friends. I hadn’t heard from her in at least five years, maybe more. I almost cried when we talked and she said she bought a ticket just for herself for Paul McCartney tonight. I’m seeing him on Sunday with my friends in Oakland.
She said she follows me on Facebook and I popped into her head. How did we ever lose touch? Our friendship was all but lost, but now is found again. I won’t lose it again.