Mike Breiding's Epic Road Trips ~2018~


San Francisco: Summer 1967

by G. Sutton Breiding

As always, visiting San Francisco brings on a flood of memories from the "old days" (1968-1972) when the Breidings were living in SanFran. Each visit to The City has this effect on me as well as generating many, many questions about that time period. My recent trip with my mom to San Francisco was no exception.

Prior to departing on this trip I contacted my brothers Sutton (aka Sutty) and William (aka Yinks) via email in an effort to gain some additional understanding along with some "filling in the blanks" about those life changing years in SanFran.

And so it was I asked brother Sutton to try to conjure up some of the details of his first trip to San Francisco. This he did in a hand written letter of "Notes" which is how this posting came about. Sutton's trip was in the summer of 1967 - the so called Summer of Love and preceded the rest of the family's migration there by just 9 months (March 1968).

Editors Note:
Text in (small italics) and footnotes are my edits/additions.
If you click on a footnote number it will jump to the footnote. From there you can return by clicking on "Back to Main Text".
~Mike Breiding

Notes - 1967: San Francisco
by G. Sutton Breiding

I recall it being early summer 1967. I don't recall the flight out. I don't recall getting to SFO. I don't recall how I got into the city though it must have been by bus. I must have had some money. I recall ending somehow somewhere on Geary (Street). I called Julian's [1] (Martin) ex-wife who was supposed to help me and got no answer. I was stopped by 2 plainclothes. They went through my suitcase. They didn't find my small pipe heavily caked with cannabis residue.

I had just talked with Mom, told them so, offered the phone number. They declined.
They warned me away from the Haight [2] because of "all the homos [3] up there."

I got on a bus, $0.10. [4] I asked the driver about a hotel. "What kinda of hotel you lookin' for?" "One to sleep in." He told me to get off at the next stop, cross the street and catch a coach back towards town. I did that. I found a quiet room in a clean hotel on lower Geary. [5] The desk clerk eyed me a bit suspiciously but all went well. I slept and next day found my way to the Haight. I found the Freestore. [6] I hung out there; stranded and probably a lot more afraid than I recall now (but it is odd; I don't associate fear with any part of this trip; I just did it. maybe I was in shock). A man came over and stood next to me. He was pointedly holding an index card so I could read it. It was about If You Need A Place To Crash. I asked him about it. He led me back across the Panhandle [7] to Hayes Street. It was an apartment where he lived with his lover. They took in strays like me. I stayed there the whole time. A few weeks I believe.

Chester Anderson [8] came by one evening. He passed out tabs of acid.[9] He stayed all night and was a guide for the likes of me. My first trip did include some fear as I recall. Nothing extreme.

I guess I wandered around the Haight. I hung out at the apartment. The men who rented it where kindly and generous. Not predators. Once Chester ask me if anyone had tried to seduce me. I said "Not that I know of". "Good answer!" He exclaimed. He saw me reading and asked me what. I showed him. "Ah! Tell them to read McClure [10]and they read Michener! What are you going to do!"

Once I visited Chester in his apartment. He showed me his mimeograph machine. He was publishing a novel, WHO KILLED ROBIN COCK. I can't recall by whom. The Communications Co. [11] was a heartbeat in the Haight. Chester and the folks who took me in were serious about social transformation, helping people with surviving and getting stoned, fucking. There were always a lot of us kids there. At one point I got the closet to myself.

I smoked a lot of weed, dropped acid. I didn't lose my virginity. Once this beautiful girl was there and we stayed up all night talking. She left next morning. I never saw her again. Chester ran into her somewhere. She told him she loved me. Chester grinned. He said, Ain't love Grand. Chester told me about a place in GG (Golden Gate) Park that was straight out of Middle Earth. Later he lived at and wrote for Good Times at 2377 Bush Street which was [12] next door to 2381 Bush [13] but I never approached him.

I don't know why/how I decided to leave SF. I recall going to SFO on a foggy incandescent night. Another crasher went with me. We talked about acid. I told him Chester had said if you take enough of it you will become bisexual. This boy got all nervous about the idea that he might be both hetero and homo.

I don't recall the flight until the moment I awoke on a ramshackle Allegheny Air Shuttle, drooling from my nap. Next to me sat a teenybopper [14] in mini skirt and fishnet hose; looking like a photograph.

Mom and some of the family were there to meet me. I was back in Morgantown and I had to face whatever was in store for me (George)[15].

And yes. The Vespa.[16] Mom sold it and sent me the money for my ticket back. I didn't miss it. Glad to be rid of such a thing.

The future unfolded.

For a while, I was immortal.

GSB signature

Over [17]

I do not recollect the address of California Street building. I was most certainly there, from the beginning. We found an old Indian hobo on the front steps once and invited him in for food. He stayed the night, & told us Indian stories. He left the next morning - a gentle spirit. Al Waldman visited us there. We had two cats, Aphrodite and Andromeda. We had a flat & later an upstairs apt. in same building. Someone named Kent in a nearby apartment worked for the PO and stole packages, got stoned with us.

As I wrapped up this piece I realized I was missing one (at least!) key piece of information: Why did Suttton decide to go to San Francisco and what did he hope and expect would happen there? So I emailed him for the answers to that question.
This was his reply.

I went to sanfran to escape the horrors of George school and church. & to take drugs & listen to the music (this happened) & to have mystical sex with hippie witches(this didn't happen). I was doubtless far more frightened than I recall or knew at the time. I was but 16. surely in deep cultural shock. always felt very lucky I found those kindly folk.

truly I've no clue as to what I wanted or expected to happen. I didn't do much. drifted with the fog, stayed inside reading talking getting stoned, who knows really. just being there was enough.
i'm certain I wanted to be somehow a part of that magical kaleidoscope of whatever I imagined was happening. it was a subculture, an underground I felt akin to, a means of identifying myself at an age when I still needed such.

truly I was a naïve innocent. I returned to mgtn. - another shock I am sure - probably realizing that whatever the 60s were or were becoming, I wanted to somehow be more a part of it. the energy was breathtaking. I wanted to get away again as fast as possible from George/Morgantown & return to my City of Dreams.

I don't know that this will help a bit. it is mostly repetitious I fear. I simply don't know what else to say or how to explain it. I was a holy fool on the edge of the void, a dreamy eyed boy dreaming fantastic dreams. same as it ever was. or is. ~GSB

"Just being there was enough." To me that says it all.

As this posting drew to a close,
Sutton sent me the following poem.

sitar streets/hashish dawns/ Victorian slums/storied rains/magic beads/pinwheel fog/hobbit voices/lysergic faces/opal smoke/skyscraper alleys/stain glass laughter/seasalt winds/poetical shadows/herb tea witches/hidden wishes/secret oral teachings/in the/Golden Dark


Sutton's letter included a photo taken in Morro Bay from mom's house at 635 Fresno Avenue.


Below are scanned images of Sutton's letter to me.

Scan of notes about GS Breiding's first visit to San Francisco in 1967 at the age of 16
Scan of notes about GS Breiding's first visit to San Francisco in 1967 at the age of 16
Scan of notes about GS Breiding's first visit to San Francisco in 1967 at the age of 16
Scan of notes about GS Breiding's first visit to San Francisco in 1967 at the age of 16
Scan of notes about GS Breiding's first visit to San Francisco in 1967 at the age of 16


1. Julian's
We met Julian Martin when we moved to Morgantown in 1963. After returning from Africa as West Virginia's first Peace Corp Volunteer he was hired as Foreign Student Adviser for West Virginia University. A conversation between my mom and Julian resulted in mom volunteering us to be a host family for foreign students going to WVU.
Julian started spending time with my oldest sister Joan and so was on occasion at our house at 616 8th Street in Morgantown. (The house was demolished sometime in the '80s)
One time Sutton and I walked from 8th street out to where Julian lived on West Run road which was 3 miles one-way. We walked out to play records we had recently purchased and we did not have a record player. Sutton took a Bob Dylan record out and I took the Electric Prunes. Very indicative of our personalities.
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2. Haight
The Haight-Ashbury district. Hippie central back in the 60s. Home to the free love/everything culture/movement and a place where drugs were sold openly on the street. I remember once cruising Haight Street with my brother Wayne looking to score some "grass" (aka: weed, MJ, marijuana). On every street corner (or so it seemed) there was someone speaking in a low voice: "Grass, acid (LSD), speed (amphetamines)". The first "lid" (a one ounce baggie) of grass we bought was $10.00. That was in the days when the leaves were smoked and flowers were removed to make "hash" (hashish).
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3. homos
It was the 60s. Calling a guy "homo" was the worst insult possible. We (the Breidings) were raised Catholic as was my dad. This meant we were all familiar with the slur "homo". I think the reason the plainclothes officers referred to the hippies as homos was so Sutton would steer clear of Haight if he was aware of that.
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4. bus
This would have been a MUNI bus. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Sutton paid a .10 fair in 1967. The regular fair as of October 2018 is $2.75.
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5. lower Geary
Lower Geary street is in the Tenderloin which is a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco with housing consisting almost entirely of single-room-occupancy hotel rooms.
This is the same neighborhood where my mom found rooms for us in March of 1968 when we first arrived in The City.
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6. Freestore
"The Free Store was where 'reality came to change its wardrobe'. Soldiers who had gone A.W.O.L would head to the Free Store, enter in full military uniform and leave looking like any other hippie on the street..." The Frederick Street Free Store was set up by The Diggers.
"Shrouded in a mystique of anonymity, the Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers (1649-50) who had promulgated a vision of society free from private property, and all forms of buying and selling. The San Francisco Diggers evolved out of two Radical traditions that thrived in the SF Bay Area in the mid-1960s: the bohemian/underground art/theater scene, and the New Left/civil rights/peace movement."
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7. Panhandle
The Panhandle is a park connected to the 1000 acre Golden Gate Park. It is one block wide and about three-quarters of a mile long. Haight street is two blocks south of the Panhandle.
In the 1960s the grassy, nicely treed park was, and still is a popular place to hang out.
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8. Chester Anderson
Originally from Miami, Anderson ended up in Greenwich Village then in 1967 moved to San Francisco during the Summer of Love and, along with Claude Hayward, was one of the founders of the Communications Company (ComCo), the "publishing arm" of the diggers. Anderson also wrote for the "Good Times" underground newspaper at 2377 Bush St which was next door to 2381 where the Breiding family (and numerous others) lived between 1969 and 1972.
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9. acid
Acid is a slang name for LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide). When a person "dropped" acid they were said to be "taking a trip" and having a psychedelic experience. It came in pill form in various colors and was also sold on pieces of blotter paper and sugar cubes. One of the common effects of taking LSD is hallucinations although this did not happen to everyone who dropped acid.
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10. McClure
Michael McClure was one of San Francisco's "Beat" poets who was very popular in the 1960s, especially with hippie types.
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11. Communications Co
As Sutton says above, the Communications Co "was a heartbeat in the Haight". Over the span of nine months in 1967, the Communication Company output roughly 900 items.
"The collective members of the Communication Company fashioned themselves "the publishing arm of the Diggers." As such, their record of broadsides, manifestos, leaflets and street sheets leaves us a rich slice of Digger philosophy as it played out on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury during the spring and summer months of 1967."
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12. Good Times
"San Francisco Good Times evolved from the weekly underground tabloid San Francisco Express Times, which was founded by Marvin Garson and Bob Novick in early 1968. The Express Times changed its name to Good Times after the March 25, 1969 issue. Under either name, the tabloid covered politics, social issues, the arts, music, and the local counterculture throughout the Bay Area. The Good Times was also a member of the Underground Press Syndicate, so it freely borrowed and contributed articles and cartoons with the syndicate. San Francisco Good Times ceased publication in August of 1972."
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13. 2381 Bush
The Bush Street Compound consisted of 3 Victorian row houses which shared common walls and a common back yard.
The Breidings - Mom (Jane), Joan, Suzi, Sutton, Michael, Wayne, William lived in 2381, next door was 2377 which had various occupants: a blended mixed family, then 3 transvestites moved in for a short while and then the Allmen Joy psychedelic rock band and finally the volunteer staff of the Good Times underground newspaper. Next to them lived the Gibbs Family at 2375 Bush.
The Gibbs Family, formerly of Scranton PA consisted of Ma (Marion)and Pa (Howard) and 5 of their 7 sons and various lovers all of whom were hippies/druggies. Except Ma and Pa Gibbs.
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14. teenybopper
"A teenybopper is a young teenager who follows adolescent trends in music, fashion and culture. The term may have been coined by marketing professionals and psychologists, later becoming a subculture of its own. The term was introduced in the 1950s to refer to teenagers who mainly listened to pop music and/or rock and roll and not much else. Teenybopper became widely used again in the late 1960s and early 1970s, following an increase in the marketing of pop music, teen idols and fashions aimed specifically at younger girls, generally 10–15 years old."
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15. George
George Herbert Breiding. Our father and my mom's first husband.
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16. Vespa
With money earned as a golf caddy Sutton purchased a Vespa scooter. At some point he was struck by a car while riding it and that may be the reason he was "Glad to be rid of such a thing."
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16. Over
This page of Sutton's letter addressed some questions I had asked via email as well as some other memories of that time.
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The "Numerous Others" of 2381 Bush Steet(1969-1972)

Gilbert Price
Jackie Ponte/Ponti - with child
Jon Kramer
Marty Bader
Bobby Miller
Robert Hernandez (Bob AWOL)
Dave Harter
Don Campbell
Gary Warne
Jim Wickman
Jim Nolan (Jimbo Freakout)
Joan Breiding
Julian Martin
Larry Scholl
Mike Hartman
Mike Taymor
Steve Lion
Susie Hartman
Juan Ortega
Mother with daughter named Marya


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