For Haight homeless, San Francisco's 1967 Summer of Love long

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 17 Aug 1998 12:00:05 -0700 (PDT)


http://www.mercurycenter.com:80/premium/local/docs/haight09.htm
FWD  Published Sunday, August 9, 1998, in the San Jose Mercury News


     SUMMER OF LOVE LONG GONE FOR DENIZENS OF THE HAIGHT

     STREETS MARKED BY DRUGS, DESPAIR

     By Michael Janofsky, New York Times


SAN FRANCISCO -- A Love Child might not recognize the place.

Here at Haight and Ashbury streets, the heart of the 1960s counterculture
revolution, a Ben & Jerry's ice cream store now stands on one corner, a Gap
clothing store on another.

They are hardly the only reminders of mainstream America's plunge into the
Haight, a neighborhood that threw open its psychedelic arms to the hippies
and misfits whose Summer of Love more than 30 years ago became part of the
national conscience.

But along with the trendy stores, specialty restaurants and nearby
Victorian houses that sell for $1 million and more is perhaps the Haight's
most compelling change.

While the now romanticized flower children were painted as spiritually
connected by political ideology and the haze of a marijuana high, many
young people on the same streets today share the common pain of broken
lives and harder drugs.

``It's like the kids back then came here, to something, and it was a dream
for many of them,'' said Jim Beck, president of the Haight Ashbury
Neighborhood Council, a residents' organization. ``Kids here today are
running from something, and for a lot of them it's the nightmare in their
past.''

A 19-year-old who calls herself Froggy sat on a newspaper rack in front of
Ben & Jerry's. Reared by foster parents, she said she found her biological
mother when she was 9 and lived with her for four years. She then set out
on her own and hitchhiked to San Francisco.

``She didn't want me in the first place,'' Froggy said, with a sad
expression. ``So I took off.''

She wears a tall red hat and sells drugs on the street, which she said she
intends to do until she saves enough money to buy a house in Montana. At
night, she sleeps nearby in Golden Gate Park.

Froggy said she liked life on the streets of the Haight. But Beth, 18, does
not. Beth said she came here from Austin with her boyfriend ``2 1/2 lousy
months ago'' because they had never seen California.

``Then he got sent to jail on four counts of assault with a deadly
weapon,'' she said.

She also sleeps in Golden Gate Park, and sometimes begs for money. ``People
throw three pennies in your face and tell me to get a job,'' she said. ``I
hate this place.''

Beth was happy about one thing. ``I kicked my heroin habit yesterday,'' she
said. ``I'm clean.''

The roaming population of homeless teenagers, many of whom buy and use
drugs, like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, is trying the patience of
a community that has prided itself on tolerance, understanding and the
social services it provides.

A flier on the window of the Haight Ashbury Music Center says: ``Take Back
The Haight. Enough of the constant mess. No more begging, stealing,
littering, hopelessness, despair and bad drugs.''

Ed Pasqualin, manager of the music store and a longtime resident of the
Haight, said, ``The Haight has always been tolerant of the freedom of
personal expression. Even people who own the fancy homes support that,''
Pasqualin said. ``But when you reach a point where people have no respect
for the lifestyle others want to live, and working folks feel harassed
because they can't walk the streets, that's when it gets pretty
frustrating.''

END FORWARD

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