Hippie Days – Worm Attack in Aspen

Downtown Aspen

Children’s Diary July 7, ’74 – We went to Aspen. It rained and we saw a flock of sheep. We had to stop the van. 200 sheep. Baa-baa-baa.

Aspen, Colorado. We’ve heard about this mountain wonderland – an historic mining town that’s become a dichotomy of rich developers and young people with countercultural ideas. We’d heard that Hunter Thompson had migrated here because,”he knew the Aspen Institute was here, and all the things left over from the silver mining era that gave a certain dignity to this Colorado town. Once you got to Aspen you could smell the funkiness and a rock’n’roll mentality.” We drive through the quaint main street, which is becoming a popular tourist destination, and find a commercial campground for the night.

“My fanny itches,” Nicole’s complaining. By the time we set up camp, eat dinner and get ready for bed, she’s crying. I get out the flashlight. It’s dark in the tent. “Let’s see what we can see.”

“He can’t look.” She waves Scooter away. Of course he’s interested.

The flash of light illuminates the little wigglers before they make a quick retreat back up her cute little bum. Mixed emotions spill from our mouths, “Yuck!”  my noise wrinkles.

“Cool.” Scooter smirks.

“Get ‘em out!” Nicole wails.

The only way to calm her down is promise the worms will go night-night just like her when the light is out, and tomorrow we’ll take her to the doctor. Fortunately we’re in town.


Children’s Diary July 8, ’74 – We took Nicole to the doctor. She had worms. (Scooter’s addition) Yeah!

“Yes, They’re pinworms.” The doctor says. “Very transmittable. You’ll need to wash all your sheets, towels, clothes and keep her things separate.”

“But we’re camping in our van,” I whine. That means I’ll be spending the day at the laundromat. Hope they have one here.

He continues, “You’ll all need to take these pills so you won’t reinfect each other.” The children each try one and smile. They look and taste like Necco candies.

Nobody looks happy back at the campsite. “How about Daddy can take you kids fishing and I’ll clean and wash?” All three of them quickly agree. I roll my eyes and sigh.

Hippie Days – Eldorado Springs – By My Own Fire

Last journal entry of Hippie Days – July 7, 1974


Alone under the stars, moon, clouds, mountains, and trees.

The wind carries the smells, sounds and heat of the fire.

I calm down, lighten up, breathe in, write poetry.

I call “I love you,” toward the heavens. To whom?

Life. The world. My children. My husband. It doesn’t matter.

This solitude gives me serenity.

I was lonely cooped up in my box in suburbia – four walls and a roof, with only my small children to talk to. I couldn’t breathe. Instead of escaping I withdrew, became sullen, yes, sometimes unbearable. But now there’s peace and time to contemplate under this open shining sky. My whole being mellows. Even the past looks rosier. Now being alone is nice. Being with people is nice. The children notice the change. Sure we still have hassles but they don’t loom so large and are resolved more easily. Instead of trying to achieve right-mindedness, oneness, goodness, I stop trying altogether, let down my defenses and just open up. As Anais Nin perceived, now I’m “free to bloom”. Of course the cycle will continue. Life will become not so easy once again, but I’ll keep a little of this wisdom each time the wheel of life turns, moving up the ladder notch by notch. It takes an exceptionally long time, but no worry, I’m immortal.

(Though my travel journal ends here, I will try to re-create the rest of our Hippie Days from the continuing entries in the Children’s Diary.)

Life and Deaf – Chapter 9 – Old Movies

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Back to Life and Deaf.

Scooter with his birthday dog.

A memory pops into my mind, so clearly, of Scooter showing his spirit while hoding his teacher, Sunny Bates’ hand in the parking lot of Marineland. He’s stamping his little foot, shaking his head no, next to the old Dodge station wagon we bought from Grandma and Gaga Patterson. He doesn’t want to go home and accept the fact that the excitement and spectacle of watching the dolphins and whales jumping, singing and dancing for us is over.

It all started when my TV cable went out. For a decade I’ve been piggy-backing off a cable that wasn’t supposed to be live. Holding on to the attitude of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book era, I didn’t feel too bad getting a little free cable from a big rich conglomerate. I started cleaning out the space getting ready for a new big legal flat screen variety and there, mixed in with the almost obsolete DVD’s and CD’s, is a copy that says ‘super-eight movies’. I pop it in and begin to watch. OMG, the beginning of our family: Scooter learning to walk. I laugh, I cry as our family life goes scrolling by. I do a quick calculation, 1968 – 1978, from Ormond Beach, FL where the children were born, through our lives as hippies traveling the country in a van, settling in Boulder, CO and our return to Sarasota.

After 1½ hours and a decade roll past, I’m emotionally drained. A smile soothes my face. My memory has been so easily nudged with these genuine images from the past. It’s all on a movie

Nicole and Scooter in Ormond Bch

lost, then found in the clutter of life. I sift through years of gift opening in front of endless Christmas trees, fancily dressed toddlers precariously carrying baskets of brightly decorated eggs, crowds of neighbor kids adorned in peaked hats in front of blazing, then smoking animal-shaped birthday cakes. But in between there’s real life: Scooter’s first steps,first run, first fall, picking himself back up and continuing on; no crying or laughing, just pure inquisitiveness and determination.The kids model silly wild outfits I sew them for Christmas. I sew myself  sexy ones to go with my bleached blond hair. We enjoy drunk,crazy fun times with the grandparents at their 25th wedding anniversary. I discipline Scooter and drag him away when he won’t stay of the street.We dancing and party with friends at a neighborhood New Year’s Eve bash where Ray passes out on the couch deeply enough to ignore us taking the drink from his hands as we continually change his hats. We take old Boulder Hippie friends boating to Sarasota’s topless beach (Sarasota was not so staid back then) and return to romp nude in our backyard.

Crazy Xmas robes I made for kids.

But let me pick up the thread where I left off. Scooter’s new teacher was with us on that Marineland trip. Miss Sunny Bates, the best teacher a child could have, had become a close friend of the family. She loved that boy, his spirited independent ways, quick intelligence and potential to move into the hearing world, and we loved her. After our shaky beginnings with oral education, she took the ball and ran with it, giving him the background he needed to successfully inhabit a hearing world.

Granted the circumstances weren’t perfect-a class of children with mixed disabilities: deaf, emotionally disturbed, cerebal palsied, autistic, aged 2 ½ (or potty trained) through 5. With Sunny at the helm, it worked and I became a volunteer teacher’s aide to pick up the slack, my first job since teaching elementary school in El Paso, Texas. What an eye-opener and education for me, too.

Hope my alterations and changes are not too confusing. Next time a different perspective – a memory from the horse’s mouth – my son.