I Was a Teenage Runaway

“I was a Valley Girl. Catholic School. I was a good girl – but I was curious.” Carol.

I Was a Teenage Runaway:
Haight-Ashbury 1968

memoir by Carol Green
with J.Macon King

Catholic Valley Girl runs away to San Francisco’s hippie scene. Soon, she flies wholesale pot to New York, becomes an acid-queen, pregnant at sixteen, almost a movie star at seventeen, and mastermind of a dog pound breakout. But wait…there’s more: Carol hangs out with stars, dates Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, starts Oregon commune, acts on stage, instructs sailboarding at Club Meds around the world, gets paid to drive and review the latest hot cars.

Wild Thing…I think I love you.


 

In the middle of the night, when I just turned seven, my father died from cardiac arrest.

His unexpected and goodbye-less death left me deeply tormented. At the same time, it would give me a lot of freedom in the up-and-coming years. When I started 2nd grade, the nun announced my father’s death to my class. The nun made a point of it – I guess so my young classmates would pray for him, and hopefully be nice to me. Everyone stared at me. This announcement left me feeling ashamed, embarrassed, different from anyone else and somehow really self-conscious. Yes, a very strange reaction. I thought no one else’s dad was dead and was heaped with all this unwanted attention. In the 50’s, there were no books explaining how to help kids understand life and death. I somehow felt responsible for my father’s death and wasted years punishing myself.

Everything changed – my Mother changed occupations – from housewife to working mom, trying to raise two children under eleven, while trying to handle her own grief. And my six-years-older brother didn’t want much to do with me. This went on for five years.

Eskimos Changed My Life

The summer of 1964 found me twelve years old in the San Fernando Valley, bordering the Santa Monica Mountains. The year had been a whirlwind and everything was still changing. I had gone from 1st grade through 5th at Woodland Hill’s St. Mel’s Elementary school. At the end of my 5th grade year, I was asked to leave. Why? I was an early Holy Commandment breaker, a stealer. The 5th grade class of Sister Ninians were assigned to write a report on Eskimos. Since I had no interest in Eskimos, and was just a boy crazy tween, I lacked education motivation. My answer to this stupid assignment was to walk down to the Woodland Hills public library, search the beautifully pristine set of Encyclopedia Britannica, and find the “E” volume. There and then I decided to slip the “E” in with all my other books that I was carrying, and simply steal it. I really did not think out this plan very well.

Then, all I did with it was sit there in the privacy of my bedroom, cut up the Eskimo pages and glued all the text and photos onto a few pages of binder paper. Then I put it in a folder with the title “ESKIMOS” and signed my name. It became a big deal. Woodland Hills was small enough to track it down within a few days. Someone from the library called all the local schools and asked who was having reports or research on anything starting with “E.” Two schools were tracked down, St. Mels and a local public high school. Within a week I was confronted with what I had done and was so embarrassed that I was caught, but not really feeling bad about what I’d done.

The whole experience was humiliating, especially because my mom worked in the school office. She was asked not to bring me back the following year. My mother was speechless, lost her job, and had to deal with this problem child, who thought nothing of the consequences. Only that I got to go to public school! for 6th grade which I had always dreamed of. I was ecstatic to go to public school. Delightful thoughts of exploring naughty girl looks and habits, which sounded super fun, changing from uniforms to anything you desired, and boys and girls going steady.

It’s Just Too Good to be True

Three weeks into the new year, I was asked to go steady by Dominick Masterpolito. He was the cutest boy in class, and I said yes immediately, not even knowing what it meant. In hindsight it didn’t mean much, except you had a boyfriend. The family was definitely rich to me since they had a pool, tennis courts, a built in the ground trampoline, a huge house, and everything any kid could want.

Then one night, out of the blue, after school, the Masterpolito family secretly moved out. It must have been a shady business as they completely disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. That was my introduction to the words “bookie” and “Mafia.”

Going to public school after Catholic school was a gas. The real zing of that year was that I had completely tasted freedom and it felt good.

Curious Carol, Tempting Topanga Canyon

Woodland Hills was a rural town, going in the suburban direction. Lots of vacant fields on our street so it was nothing to be out after dark and talk with friends about everything we were wanting to experience with a vengeance. Better yet, we lived one block away from the entrance of Topanga Canyon. (Ed. note: the famed motherland of cool actors, sexy musicians, hip glamour and wild parties.)

At such a young age, the times and situations left me feeling that I was missing something—so, O.K. to explore vices. Looking back, I felt like “I Am Curious Green” as opposed to “Yellow.” (ed. note: Carol Green’s reference to the nubile anti-heroine in the ground-smashing Swedish erotic film, I Am Curious (Yellow), which was oft-banned\confiscated and legally-challenged).

This was 1964, and I’m between 6th grade and 7th grade at Parkman Junior High School, on Burbank Blvd., right off of Ventura. This was the summer my friends and I from 6th grade spent all-day lip-syncing Motown to girl groups all day in front of mirrors. One would take the lead with the others as backup. After the lead had a few songs, we would rotate and eventually it would start all over again. We were pretty hot for a bunch of teeny boppers.

A little side note – years later a bunch of us rented a cabin in Jenner, CA and watched the movie, Girl Groups. One of the guys said, “God Carol, I don’t know how you learned anything in school, you know all the words to every song.” I had my priorities down pat.

Age 15.

Starting at Parkman Junior High School I found love and lust in just one look. Beatles. The Beatles had arrived, and, so much more music, that my foremost passion was to listen to records. Constantly. It was an electric year and with it came a very independent former Catholic girl—who always seemed to get the worst reputations. I bleached my hair blonde and started loading on the eye liner and mascara. I learned how to dance by watching American Bandstand with Dick Clark, and was ready to go for IT.

Sweet Hitch-Hiker, Surfer Girl

Regrettably, Hughes Jr. High School (7th-9th grades) had just been built and, since it was in walking distance to my house, the district moved me from Parkman and I was enrolled to start 8th grade at Hughes in the fall. I made friends, but two of my favorites were 9th graders and they were so much more experienced. In these years the only easy place for teens to go was a community center in Van Nuys. My mom would drive me, and then I could catch a ride home with someone who drove … very cool. On weekend nights there would often be live bands, or a DJ, and afterwards we’d all go over to Bob’s Big Boy and eat French fries till the wee hours. I am still in love with French fries with blue cheese dressing.

8th grade came and went and my two 9th grade friends graduated to high school (10th-12th). This opened a new world. This was the summer of learning to hitchhike over the Canyon.

The big scene was being a surfer, with the Beach Boys hits as influence, although we all had one of the “invading” Rolling Stones names on our binders. My brother had a surf club and all these lovely high school boys would spend the night on Friday and leave early the next morning for the beach. By this time, I had the surfer-look going and was very persuasive. Sometimes my brother would let me tag along – his friends would always say, “Com’on Green, let her come.”

To my great luck my two high school friends, adopted me now as their 9th grade apprentice. When Liana got her license, this meant it was not necessary to either rely on my mom – no can do, or hitch hike.

Malibu Poppers: the First Stone is Cast

One day hitchhiking back from Malibu, a guy picked us up and asked, “Hey girls, do you want to get high?” It was like, wham – we all said O.K. at the same time. He pulled over to the side of the road and held up these odd baby-finger looking things— “poppers” aka amyl nitrate. We sniffed, all laughed our heads off for about 3 to 5 minutes. Then you had to do it again, they didn’t last long. When it was time to drive us home he invited us to a party at his house that night, “if we wanted to smoke some pot.”

Later, we hitched a ride to his house in Malibu Canyon. We went, and behold: saw and experienced our first joint of reefer on that night. We sat around smoking and waiting for some unworldly feeling. Only one of us could feel it. Really wanting to get stoned, we went back the next day. This time with success. This was the summer between 9th grade and high school. We went nuts, and never visited the Van Nuys Community Center again.

Pork Chop Meets The Monkees

The new local hang out was a place on Ventura Blvd. I think it was right in between Tarzana and Encino. “The Pup,” as us regulars called it, official named Don’s Royal Pup, was designed a bit like a Foster Freeze with little bistro style tables and chairs. The Pup was nestled conveniently in-between a bowling alley and a movie theatre. To us, The Pup felt to us like anyone who was anyone would want to hang there, but basically, we were all wanna-be’s.

The Pup was a real mixed bag in regards to the looks of the clientele. Firstly, a lot of surfers, then some greasers (low riders), and once in a blue moon a hippie-looking group drifted in, and then some normal looking people. I even ran into a lifeguard from my old public pool, who I had a wild crush on when I was 11. He was close to ten years older when we used swim and goof around there, and was still ten years older now.

A big claim to fame: one night, Micky Dolenz from the Monkees came in with two long-haired guys. The Monkees were a big deal, a Hollywood TV version of the Beatles, really. Although every girl had their fave of the four cuties from the TV Show, with Davy Jones or Peter Tork often considered the cutest, every girl in the place went numb with lust over Micky’s dark looks and Beatle-like hair.

Micky the Monkee.

My hairstyle, and goal earlier on, had been to look like Ronnie from the Ronettes (RIP), so my style was more “low rider,” but with a surfer persona. However, people used to call me “pork chop” because I was still chubby with my puppy fat. Now I was starting to explore the new hippie look. With my slimming, it was a good look for me, and I was pork chop no more. Behind The Pup was a big rangy field, and we’d go out in the back, smoke reefers, and stash bottles of booze to sip from, and go back in ready to party. Never had a problem with this.

(For what’s it worth, I was getting some culture in. In that theatre next to The Pup, I saw West Side Story and went back every day for a week. I cried my eyes out with Tony and Maria.)

Rock n’ Roll High School

So, in the Fall I started a new high school, Taft High School, Woodland Hills on Ventura and Winnetka Blvds. I had only lived in one house since we moved from New York when I was an infant, so this brings back beaucoup memories just recollecting the streets. High School was a burn for me. I was hanging out with some older kids and would skip school and get stoned all day. Around the corner from my house were a number of streets lined with walnut trees, we’d hang out, shell walnuts and eat them. The shells would make your hands look like you bathed them in instant copper tone.

Kitty corner from this spot lived the aunt of Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers and he’d often stay there. We knew a kid who lived there too, and we’d hang out with him hoping to see the guys, which occasionally we did. The house had an awesome sound system and that is where I got stoned and listened on headphones for the first time to the Sgt. Pepper’s album. Wow.

When stoned, I loved these candy bars called UNO, very gross thought now, but like a whipped mousse of chocolate inside, covered in hard dark chocolate. I ate like ten of them with Sgt. Pepper. An outstanding experience made more unforgettable.

I Can Eat Ten UNO Bars and still Shindig!

I was influenced by many 50’s tunes since my brother was six years older than me. I was taken with music with every beat of my heart. My girlfriend from 7th grade, her uncle was one of the producers of the hot TV musical show Shindig! She got us front row tickets one night. I was hoping to be surprised by the Beatles, but was terribly disappointed that the act was the Righteous Brothers. I already felt they were old fashioned and too old for me. Those days I was in love with the Seeds’ Sky Saxton, and Arthur Lee of Love, and often Iron Butterfly. I got over my disappointment by watching myself on the audience TV camera. I tried foxy mugging. I think I had hidden secret desires to be a groupie but when opportunities did come up, I was really too square to swing.

By now my friends and I were constantly going to Hollywood, it didn’t matter night or day. Sometimes hitchhiking, sometimes riding – I didn’t know how to drive yet. We started going to this big hall on Sunset Blvd. The Palladium was beautiful Deco building designed by a famous architect, later to be designated “historic.” But we didn‘t care about that. They let minors in! And had live music and a huge, huge dance floor. There it was common to see the psychedelic hard rock bands Love (I loved Love!), The Seeds, and Iron Butterfly live. I certainly spent a lot of time at the place and always had a ball. It basically was a stoned picnic.

(Ed. note: Love and The Seeds may not be as familiar to younger readers, but were seminally influential to psychedelic, folk rock, punk, metal bands to come. Especially Arthur Lee’s Love, whose fans included The Doors, Hendrix, and Rolling Stones. Listen to Love’s 1967 surprisingly sophisticated and eclectic Forever Changes album.)

We would also hang around the legendary Troubadour and Pandora’s Box. Both of these places had a 21-year-old entrance rule but occasionally, if you flirted enough, you might get the doorman to let you in. We more commonly hung outside with other kids like us, having fun and acting as old and hip as we could—15-year-old Valley Girls.

Too Cool for School

The skipping of school got out of hand when I skipped for two months straight. They (finally!?) called my mom. They expelled me and was great for me, but created complications for everybody else. Like Mom. My mom just did not know what to do with me. My brother was in Vietnam, and she told me I had to stay home during school hours until she had a plan. I was not supposed to go out because in those days truant officers would drive the streets. It was natural for me to leave the second she left for work and parade around the streets. The day I got caught, it wrecked the next few weeks.

For me, with my bad stoner attitude, it didn’t matter being expelled, but thinking back my poor mom was devastated and scared the state would take me away. A process was started. I was to go stay in Anchorage, Alaska where my aunt, uncle, and cousins lived.

Being out of school was not as cool as I thought, since everyone else was in school. I managed to find some friends from my Parkman years who were ditching or somehow had school hours free. Also I was able to hitch hike over to Pacific Ocean Park (P.O.P.) and met skateboarders from the Dogtown area (Ed. note: see 2001 doc Dogtown and Z-Boys). It was a kinda’ lonely scene, no longtime friends to hang out with and acquaintances I made were all kinds of people, even some creepy ones, and they definitely did a lot of drugs. Already knowledge of grass, poppers, I think speed too, pills of all sorts ‘reds, whites,” and then the Magic Pill of Acid. Yikes! what a trip!. This lifestyle lasted about a month.

Hippies had become the new thing, and my group were the ones who wanted to be educated, however, not at Taft High. My group also had some older kids, with cars and a yearning for learning in the most untraditional ways. Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll sounded righteous . Curiosity was the main topic of conversations. A girl named Lisa was planning to run away to Haight-Ashbury and asked me to her house so she could tell me about it and the other people who wanted to take this excursion. It was decided to leave in two days. Myself, I had no intention of going. I knew I had screwed up with school and was going to live with family in Alaska who could help educate and control me. They had moved from New York in the 40’s, and started the Montessori Schools up there.

Within the next two days Lisa’s small group of four started encouraging me to join. I honestly had no interest. I adored my mom – but I knew things would change once I went to Alaska. So after the two days of heavy peer pressure, I gave in. I thought I was such big shit, but reality was a mama’s girl, and a big baby. With a heavy heart I went about getting the few things I would need packed in a backpack. Not much – just cute clothes and shoes on my feet, and Lisa had instructed me to not bring bras or panties. (lingerie was not needed, and was not popular in the Haight someone had told her) So I left it all behind. Free, fearful, and fascinated with adventure I was setting off to live my life.

We met at the entrance to Topanga Canyon late one afternoon. Not one of these pseudo-sophisticated friends could get a car so we started out hitch hiking. There were rides in the back of pickup trucks, squishing into sedans, long periods waiting for rides. Really not glamorous at all.

Bye, Bye Birdie

Somewhere around Santa Barbara, this guy giving us a ride said we could stay at his vacation condo for the night. As it turned out he was the actor Paul Lynde. After he introduced himself to us I recognized him immediately from the movie, Bye Bye Birdie. He was super nice, and advised us to be careful and if we called our parents (none of us did), he wouldn’t call the police, especially since we all pretended to be older.

Dawn came, he made a big pot of oatmeal for us and gave us a $50-dollar bill and took us to the freeway and we started all over. None of us really had any money, so it was hostess cupcakes, M & M’s and those little tiny cheap fruit pies were the menu for this trip, pure junk food for the diet was the yummiest.

Haight-Ashbury

Finally, we arrived in San Francisco like caged animals let out in the jungle at dusk. We were on Haight Street and had no idea where to go. My vision now is five strangers in a strange land, standing around with not a clue what to do next. Somehow with none of us having plans we split up, planning to meet on the street. I wandered up and down Haight St. from Masonic to Stanyan starry eyed and scared.

Hells Angels photographed in The Panhandle 1967 © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

At one point a cute older looking guy standing on the corner greeted me with “ Peace,” and “How’s it going?” I vamped up my speech, and then he asked, “You want to test some acid for me?” My eyes combed the street for my missing friends, saw no one. “Sure,” I said.

Important to know, I acted like an experienced baby woman, but that was not the case. Yes, I had made out with guys, and a few times let them feel my titties, but that was the max. Off I went with Patrick who was 21 and headed to his 2nd floor flat, three doors down from the corners of Haight and Divisadero on the Haight side.

The mind-altering drug, the music, the Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow played over and over. Then it was time to learn how to get in the groove, but oh no, help – 911! What to do, because I was still a virgin! Some of my friends had “gone all the way” and two of the junior school girls already had gotten pregnant, so I had some idea. As the acid kicked in, there was nothing else to do but go with the flow. Listening to the Youngbloods, for lack of better verbiage – he popped my cherry. I was now inducted into this new strange world.

The next morning felt really awkward so we jaunted down Haight Street and got something to eat and maybe spot some of my runaway crew. No such luck, so we talked, and we walked, and he showed me Golden Gate Park, and we found out we liked each other.

When we got hungry again, he said he was out of bread, but we could go panhandle enough to get a burger.

It turned out I was a pretty good panhandler, and didn’t give a second thought to it, and that would become my “job.” To think of panhandling now in 2022, I would say there was much more compassion for these unique looking beggars back in the day. It’s actually scary to even think of doing it now at my age.

We made enough to get a “Love’s Burger” at a place named Love’s Burgers. This was a lifesaving hamburger joint owned by a loving woman named LOVE. She called everybody “Baby.” It was 25 cents for a Love Burger with cheese and a pickle. This became my main menu for many days to come. I had never met anyone like her in the Valley, she was big, black and voluptuous. There was also a fish and chip place we frequented, where the fries were wrapped in newspaper and you sprinkle on malt vinegar. This was a foreign dish to me, and now feeling worldly traveled, that was a bi-weekly delight.

My new friend, Patrick Burger (no relation to Love, ha ha), was from New York, trying to get a band together. He had left a job back east being a junior draftsman. About seven years later he would get his architect’s license and actually designed and built many of the luxury homes in Tiburon which are still recognized today.

Happy and scared, I just never left him or his flat. I stuck like glue. We became a couple, he was now my “Old Man” and I his “Old Lady”. There were two bedrooms and a little tiny closet in the place. Us and his friend/roommate in the bedrooms, and the weirdest guy living in that tiny closet. He was some kind of yogi and would contort his body and live and sleep in the closet in the funniest positions. I’m laughing as I think of him. His name was Kip, and he would never speak. This was all so exciting to me and we lived quite comfortably in our little paradise on Divisadero.

I learned to cook “hippie” food, and Patrick would spend his days dealing pot and acid, while I’d goof around on the street meeting people, making friends, listening to music and panhandling. It was common to see musicians, unknown and known, on Haight St. and in Golden Gate Park, and this was exactly my own mini Utopia. Nights were spent dropping acid and going to see bands. I had taken acid and seen Led Zeppelin and the Cream, and had my mind blown into many specimens with the music. Nights like this were typical, the music that was happening in all the club/halls was amazing.

My Personal Birth of Cool

Patrick had a younger brother Ken, who came from NY with him. Ken was about two years younger had been in a band with Pat. Ken was definitely a druggie, only Ken’s drugs were a different bag, upper related, cocaine and speed. I found this all tons of fun, with my old man, I was happy with my new exotic life, and except for missing my mother who was looking for me as a runaway. I thought this was my Heaven on Earth. This was April 1968, and I was three months away from turning sixteen. Pat got me a fake ID reading 18 years old, with my new birthplace being Cook County, Illinois. I had grown a lot in these days, and Patrick was very political.

He took a fancy to educating me and made sure I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People by Lenny Bruce, and of course, Stranger in a Strange Land. I was taught that hippies were called “heads” (like don’t be a geek and say hippies). Wearing my sexy looks of eye makeup and lipstick wasn’t cool, we were meant to be natural. Learning to cook brown rice as opposed to Uncle Ben’s instant rice. I was definitely getting educated and a long way from a year ago at Don’s Royal Pup. This felt like the real deal – of what I’m not sure, maybe my personal birth of cool.

Thank you R.Crumb.

High in the Sky to the Big Apple

June of 1968 became the summer of our “High in the Sky” with TWA Airlines, and creating new looks for flights. A business plan was set between Pat and Ken. The Burger brothers were well known in New York as Manhattan regulars, with many creative and fun friends, and a home in Queens. The plan entailed: Ken stay in S.F., Pat and I hop on an economy flight and fly to N.Y., we fly out with our luggage filled with kilos of pot, arrive, stay at his mom and step-dad’s in the local hood and …… if all goes well, we sell it in lids. It worked. Within three days every ounce was sold. The follow up plan being, Ken purchases more reefer, we buy tickets back to San Francisco, go pick it up and fly back.

After a month or two of that we became a little careless and cocky. We had it going smooth enough that the new idea was we wire the money to Ken, and he purchase and send back to us. I had just turned 16, and already feeling I had been left out of the business plans, was not happy with this by intuition. I still feel that had they included me early on, it probably wouldn’t have failed so miserably.

In the end, Pat’s brother Ken ripped us off with the money. His own brother! We were stuck with not much of anything and living at the boys’ mom’s in Elmhurst. My teenage life seemed to be in seasons, changing ever few months. Living there wore thin pretty quick, so Patrick decided we must go camping.

Confession Time

This is the difficult part. I was a sixteen-year-old girl. What about my mother back home? Why didn’t I call or write? Why didn’t Pat’s mother or step-dad call my mother? Or encourage me to go home? Or at least to contact her? Explain that I was with Pat and being taken care of? These are the easy answers: The 60’s were nuts. Everybody knows that. There were thousands of runaways. It didn’t seem that big of a deal. Younger girlfriends were not uncommon. Here are the hard answers: Pat was committing statutory rape. Repeatedly. And he’d crossed state lines with a minor. With drugs. Plus, Pat was already on the lam as a Vietnam War draft dodger. There was that.

About a year after I ran away from home, I really missed my mom. A phone call cross-country was expensive back then, so even when I wanted to call, I didn’t. I finally just had to talk to her. One of Pat’s friends gave me a phone credit card to use. I called and talked to my mother and it was as emotional overwrought as one would expect. I felt badly then, and for years, about what anguish I caused her.*

Then, it got worse. The phone card was stolen (of course) and AT&T contacted my mother, threatened legal action and harassed her into paying for my call. What a great daughter I was.

Outdoor Living… is Easy to Do

Patrick decides we must go camping till the money from Ken arrives – he is convinced Ken would make good and it will arrive – and gives his mom clear instructions on how to reach us in the wilderness – the local Post Office in Harriman State Park. As I write, I’m laughing. … the experience was so horrible.

We take a bus up state to Harriman State Park, North of N.Y. bordering Orange and Rocklin Counties. This all came from Patrick’s Eagle Scout camping days. The park is the second largest state park in New York State. It’s a long walk from the post office, maybe seven miles to our new campsite, and we continue to settle in and build our little temporary love shack.

The money never arrives. And two months later we are still there dodging the rangers, cooking over an open fire, taking baths in the freezing lake, chopping and gathering wood, hauling water, foraging- before middle class foodies ever heard the word. After some time and nail-biting escapes from cops and rangers too numerous to mention, we pack up our very minimal belongings and leave.

Bonnie and Clyde in Queens and Jersey and Queens, oh My

We hitchhiked back to Manhattan, then Queens, and stayed with friends. His friend Frenchie put us up, then got engaged, so we were out. All was changing and a lot was going on. We could stay a few nights at the cute Sacardi brothers (Cricket and Booboo) because they all still lived at home with their parents. They were Pat’s neighborhood chums and all 20-21-years old. The McBrides and McCallions were the same story with occasional crashes, so we were soon back at Pat’s mom and step-dads.

We came up with the brilliant idea to each get a job. So we did. In New York city; Pat, as a bike messenger, and me, lying to say I was 18, worked at WearEver Aluminum and Cutco Cutlery. We secured a month to month apartment. Didn’t last. Due to finances, we soon ended up taking a place in cheaper Jersey City, which was super weird. They called us “Bonnie and Clyde” there. We commuted by bus to work in the city.

“Bonnie & Clyde” aka Carol & Patrick.

After a few months we took an apartment in Queens (Corona) where Pat had a million friends that became mine too. And we met new people that are still lifelong friends. Bob and Jane Wipfler lived across the hall from us and are still dearest friends. These were joyful days and a more stable time together. Pat took his former job as an architectural assistant. I didn’t work, but I did play a lot.

Heaven was Fillmore East and Max’s Kansas City

Our new friends were awesome, hanging with the Wipflers and their crowd. We’d go weekly to the Fillmore East and hear absolutely some of the greatest bands of the time. It was Heaven!!!!!!!!!! The Band played there a lot, Jethro Tull, Joe Cocker on his Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, and just about everyone from B.B. King to Johnny Winter. Afterward we’d head to Max’s Kansas City, which was always bouncing with life, energy, new acquaintances, musicians, and mad poets. I was able to form in my mind a new version of myself.

Photo courtesy: https://classic.maxskansascity.com/maxs/

Walden Pond Life on the Lake

Autumn was getting close and we were offered by a friend, a caretaking gig in his family summer house for the winter in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey with free rent. Heading to catch the bus to upstate, we found our first pet, Grey. The finest, cutest and tiniest of kittens under a construction site, so we took her with us. That starts a new chapter. The place was unbelievable and in the middle of a tiny town surrounded by trees. We entered winter there, with no heat and only a wood stove. The house had four bedrooms and a large outdoor screened in porch where many people slept. We had people coming in from N.Y weekly to stay and hang out with us. Lake Hopatcong was just a few feet from our place and it was a perfect sized lake. A row boat came with the place and we jerry-rigged a sail and made it our very own sailboat.

Across the lake was the huge, old-fashioned Bertrand Island Amusement Park, built in the twenties, and we’d sail over to there to amuse (ha ha) ourselves. The wooden roller coaster, “The Wildcat,” and the “Haunted House” were our favorites.

The locals were not quick to accept us, but after living by us and getting to know us, became more liberal minded and ended up liking us, with a few great friendships being formed. Now, we seemed really a stable unit, lived together for months, had a kitty and a big cool pad on the lake. So, the time felt right to get a dog. We went into the city to well-known Bidawee pet shelter and found our sweet dog, Quick, who I had for thirteen years.

Just about this time I realized that I’m pregnant. It was a happy time for us with innocent mature dreams. What it meant was that I was to stop smoking anything, no booze and no drugs, in this crazy partying world of ours.

I didn’t have a problem with these changes, however I had it in my mind I wanted to have my baby in San Francisco. Those days, New York was dangerously scary, dirty and freezing. I was a California kid used to warm beaches and white sand, and couldn’t hang with the dirtiness of the City. Worse yet, I was always prepped, “beware of muggers.”

Worse than Muggers

I did have one terrifying experience. After fighting with Patrick, I went to spend a few days with Ellen, a girlfriend of ours in the Village. I bussed to her place and it turned out she was working nights at a topless place. She surprised me when she said I could help by babysitting her kid while she worked. It was another big surprise to find that she had more company staying with her— a couple, who I had never met. The woman was going to work with my friend for the night. The woman’s boyfriend had a party to go to, so the idea of staying by myself at her house to watch the kid was perfect. At our home at the lake, kerosene lanterns were our light – no electricity in the big Lake Hopatcong house – so I was so looking forward to laying around and watching TV all night.

Halfway through the evening, the dude was still hanging around there. I questioned when he was going to the party, and he tells me he’s changed his mind about going. As a guest of my friends, I felt I had to be friendly to her other guests, but I was really upset that I was going to be stuck with him all night. Worse, he was watching the TV, some dumb show I didn’t want to see. Totally bummed out, I decide to go to sleep early, so I put the sleeping kid down and I went to bed.

I was awakened by a guy sitting on top of me with one hand holding my arm behind my back and his other hand over my mouth and pinching off my breathing and whispering to me, don’t scream. It was the creepy boyfriend, of course. I am not sure how, but I told myself to deal with it the best I could. I was petrified, and pregnant too. I told him, “please don’t hurt me,” and “why are you acting this way – can’t you tell I really liked you?” and “you don’t need to force your (ugly) body on mine!”

He raped me. And I acted like I enjoyed it, to get out of this awful scene without getting hurt. When he’d finished, he threatened that if I told Ellen or his girlfriend he’d kill me. So I lay in my little bed frightened to death.

When they got home I didn’t say anything because I was so scared. The next morning, I told Ellen and begged her not to say anything, but of course she did. The girlfriend started the biggest fist fight with the creep I’d ever seen and screamed for him to get out. Alarmed that all of this was going on, I borrowed the money to get back to the lake, and I left alone and feeling sick and panicked terror. Off I went back to the lake and sobbing, told everyone. Our friend Ellen broke up with her friend, and the situation just made me pursue getting back to California as quick as I could.

Dog Days

On a funnier note, at the back end of the little town of Lake Hopatcong, was an outdoor dog pound/shelter filled with homeless dogs. In a semi-deserted field, there were a bunch of chain-linked fences that made up private little bitty cages for the dogs. I was always an animal lover, so I’d go there sometimes. It was a short walk and I would go visit them. It probably housed 10-15 dogs at a time maximum. I compassionately gave them loving words and try to pet them. Tails would wag, lots of barking, and some fearful growls.

One day I decided they should all be free – freedom was my motto as a way of life and not mature enough to think of the end results. Some of the cages were held with sticks, some were wrapped into the spaces of the chain link with heavy chain, I really do not remember any locks. Not thinking where will they go, I managed to open all the cages, with some of the dogs growling. I had no fear – they needed their freedom. So maybe there were 10 dogs and they all were so happy they just clung around me as if I was their God, and they didn’t leave my side – why – because they had no place to go.

Carol, pregnant, cat, with Patrick, NYC, 1970.

Now it’s starting to sink in, they are homeless, so I decide to bring them home. There was a long, cement pathway along the street and a part of the lake. As I walked it was a pied piper scene, all the dogs of every kind, small and large following me, a pregnant little teenager happily walking in freedom land with the jailbroke pooches. People passing in cars all stopped to stare, or did double takes, no doubt it was probably the craziest thing they had ever seen.

End result, the dogs all ended up at our place, my husband (Pat and I had recently gotten married) dumbfounded to what I’d done, and now what? The dogs were running all over the place in our area, peeing and shitting everywhere, barking and playing, some started fightin’. They were a demonstrative group! After about eight hours our neighbors came to ask, “What the heck is going on here?” My husband yelled, “You have to send them back, we can’t keep them!”

It was clear what had to happen. I walked to the store to use the phone, to call the caretaker of the pound. I lied and told the pound guy I wasn’t sure how they came to our house, but it was obvious. They made a few trips back and forth with so many dogs, and then it was over. I wished I never did that, it was really meant to be a beautiful thing, but it ended with them all going back. At 17, I was still so immature with my thoughts, just acting out feelings without thinking of consequences. Just the right time to move back to the city and regroup.

We made this happen by moving back to Queens, staying with friends and prepared to move back to California. The last month or two was filled with celebrations for us and our big journey. My heart was set on having my baby in California, and I was getting my dream. Each weekend we’d drive to the Fillmore East concerts and stay with friends in the Village.

Taking Off 

One night, we were at one of the Fillmore shows, me pregnant but not showing yet, with my Mexican embroidered tops I’d taken a fancy to wearing. A woman approached and said there was a man who wanted to meet me. She told me that he was new to this country but was well-known in Czechoslovakia. She asked me back to a quiet corner to talk to him. The woman introduced me to the man, “film director Milos Forman.” I did not know who he was, but I did know that this was a cool thing. Milos, in his Czech accent, explained that he was making a movie about a young girl who ran away at my age, got pregnant and had to turn her parents around to accept her with this new way of living. We both agreed that I was perfect for the role, almost as if it was created for me. He asked Pat and I to come to his house in the West Village and read for him the next day.

His beautiful unassuming brownstone opened up into a magnificent garden of lushness, and his place was ultra-modern, eclectic and just out of this world.  I was so impressed that the memory is still strong.  I reminded him that I was pregnant and he said we could work with it, in fact being a bonus. The meeting and the reading went great, and he told me to call him the next day for casting in his film, Taking Off.

But I guess I was scared. After we were home, I never followed up. I was so young, soon to have my first child, had a husband and was a proud owner of a dog and cat. In my youthful fresh eyes at the time, I already had the perfect unconventional American Dream.

Milos Forman’s Taking Off movie poster. “The “plot” was about a girl  just like me. I guess that’s why he wanted me to play the role.”

Milos had only been known at the time for making independent films. Taking Off won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Buck Henry played the father, Kathy Bates, Carly Simon, Tina Turner had cameos. The girl who was given the role looked similar to me. Despite all that, it didn’t fare well in the states. A few years later, Milos would hit the big time with his next film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He famously went on to direct Hair, Ragtime, and Amadeus.

Years later, I would move to Oregon, join a repertory company and do a lot of good acting, dancing, and local TV commercials. I realized that I would have been a natural in the hands of Milos. This is one of the things I really regret. Oh, well, c’est la vie. It wasn’t the only mistake I had made or would make.

 

California’s the place you oughta’ be ….

Time to move, so I flew to my Mom’s in LA, and Patrick bought a used push-button Rambler and drove across country with our few things and the pets. After he found a house for us, I flew up to San Francisco. 139 Josiah St. is the home address on my daughter Zahra’s birth certificate, March 11, 1970. I was 17 years old. My shabby little cottage, looked at with enthusiastic eyes, was the dream home, and even had a super funky, paint-chipped, white picket fence. This was in the Ingleside neighborhood of S.F. Beeps Drive In was our turn off from Ocean Blvd. and soon I realized we were the only whites in the neighborhood. The good-hearted people in the Ingleside neighborhood, were curious about us, and were good neighbors. My childhood in the Valley was so white, this was an exotic feeling to me. Even if it were a bit of a hood.

We lived there the next two and a half years, until, sadly, but for many reasons, I decided to end our relationship. Patrick had continued to stay involved with moving pot in N.Y. After one trip he returned home ripped off and beat up. I had many crying breakdowns over this, and just felt it was over. Also, a fact being that I was 15 when we met and he was 21, he took on a father-figure role for me. And as I got older and with more self-confidence, I resented it.

The final straw was that he had totally changed me into what he wanted. All the makeup and clothes I had liked, he hated. He had trained me early on to be totally natural. By this time his architect license had sat for a bit and we were doing trade shows with his leather and jewelry business. I crocheted purses to sell. We had a workshop in the garage, and one night I went in and surprised him. He surprised me too. He had all these very trashy magazines of woman who were old, overly made up, and gross. I realized he was masturbating out there, and I said fuck this. He moved to the Lower Great Highway and still, always kept a room for me.

After taking so much acid together, we had really become family. The breakup was very adult- like, but devastating at the same time. He became like a brother to me, a terrific father, in fact we remained married for about fifteen years, however just as friends.

Marin County, Van Morrison, “The Church”

In 1972 I moved to San Anselmo with my darling baby Zahra, who was two, my dog “Quick,” a cat, and my two girlfriends.

In the seventies, the people in general in Marin were super easy, friendly and I felt we were all on the same Love Train. Everyone seemed so young, and the elder locals were super open minded. Life felt good, and Marin was so beautifully musical in those days. Wendy was a high school dropout hanging out learning harmonica, Rose was a single mother of a two-year-old boy Zach, and having already been friends we had a very happy home, even if very tight spaces. The kids grew up like brother and sister, 4 months apart in age. Down the street was “The Church” which had been turned into a recording studio with musicians coming and going day and night.

“The Church.”

Quick had puppies, a lot, that I had to find homes for. One day, feeling good, I dressed in bikini top, hip hugger cutoffs and cowboy boots. I pushed a shopping cart of dirty laundry and puppies, with Quick trailing, heading to the local laundry mat (that sounds so funny and it was).

Van Morrison popped out of “The Church” to say hi to me, as my caravan sashayed down the street. After having a quick drink with him, he generously offered to take one of the puppies. The Sons of Champlain, Grateful Dead, and other local bands became exciting acquaintances of ours to hang out with, and Wendy the roommate would go there and try to jam with her harmonica

“Wake Up Little Susie”

I was invited to a 4th of July party in Southern California’s San Clemente, so I invited my friend Sue Ryan, who was living in Eugene, to come down with me. This party changed our lives. The party had a cool bonfire on the beach, great view of the fireworks, so was o.k. but overall, kind of a dud. A different style of people than us “northerners.”

While there, we decided to go to a concert down in San Diego. There we would meet the legendary Everly Brothers. My brother was 5 years older, so I knew all the “Oldies but Goodies” tunes by heart, and some of my favorites were sung so sweetly by Don and Phil. The “EV’s” we used to call them—the cutest old guys in the world.

Sue and I ate some mushrooms, and figured out our strategy for positioning in the show’s seating and standing room. The night was magical—as if our mushroom vibe connected with the band on stage. I knew all the words to their songs, so I sang along with every song, every word, and it was a golden moment in time – obvious that Don and Phil noticed us (hard not to), adored our enthusiasm, and when they sang Sam Cook’s “You Send Me,” that was it … like I knew the words before them … and they were singing to me, and it was very clear we were going to party with them that night.

It was all so charming. These guys were just the most sweet, courteous, well-mannered Southern Boys ( but older guys) with the funnest sense of humor. They came from a different generation, since I was born in the 50’s, and was a tween/teen in the 60’s, that gentleman quality of the Everly Brothers simply was inbred in them, I felt the 50/60 generational gap still left me with the love of good manners, it was in my blood.

“When Will I Be Loved”

Don Everly, Carol, Phil Everly, Sue Ryan.

It was all terribly romantic, unexpected, and exciting. As a 9-year-old girl I had been in love with Don, already thinking him a doll and very sexy. As a 20-something-year-old I was smitten by Phil. Don was married and had a great wife, but Phil was a shy, forceful, flirting force of nature, pretty darn cute, and he along with the whole group were tons of fun. This was a big deal to me for many reasons. I had great admiration for him as a child, I was super infatuated with him, and heck, he is Phil Everly. The Everly Brothers are legends, whom I already personally adored, and I thought I was in love.

My first dinner date with the legendary big star, Phil Everly, was so different than I expected. I was a little awkward but he was such a gentleman. Afterwards, he invited me back to his place in Toluca Lake for a nitecap. Toluca Lake, in the San Fernando Valley, was and is a ritzy neighborhood (think Frank Sinatra, Betty Davis, Steve Carrell, Melissa McCarthy). After making my drink, he asked, “Hey, do you want to go…”

I’m expecting (anticipating) “…see my etchings,” “…upstairs,” or something of course. He says, “…swimming?” I was in such shock and delight I immediately said, “Are you kidding? I’d love to.” We jumped in nude as I had no suit (and he followed suit). I made him perform swimming races with me, and we had a ball.

This romance came and went on for a few years. Again, I was in love with it all. I lived up North in Marin, Phil there in Southern California. Back and forth, in between his tours, and me flying back and forth to Burbank airport to get reacquainted.

Communing in Oregon & Fun with Meds

During this time, I moved with the kids, pets, and my girlfriends to Oregon. First to a shack on the Umpqua River, where we were eventually joined by three or four guys from Laguna Beach, their various girlfriends and friends, making our place an unofficial commune. We would mostly all drop, put together a lunch, and run the river rapids over and over. No inner tubes, rafts, canoes for us, only our fearless acidic bodies.

(Ed. note: In the late 60’s and early 70’s Laguna Beach was the LSD capital, under the supernatural guidance of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, along with a relocated Timothy Leary. See MillValleyLit’s enlightening interview with one of the leaders reprinted in an upcoming issue or upon request.)

Tiring of the scene, and the one-room school my daughter attended, I move us to Eugene. I lived there from late 1972 into the 80’s. Through Oregon State extension, I taught low-income families, in their homes, the value of good nutrition. As mentioned, I became very involved with theatre, acting and performing. I performed in Oregon Repertory Company productions for scale such as the musical, Oh! What a Lovely War, A Texas Trilogy, and a Molière classic. For extra money, I did a number of TV ads for the Costco-like giant Bi-Mart. Theatrical experience provided me with the change, excitement, and thrills I craved—without traveling and risky behavior. And I was able to give my daughter a relatively stable upbringing.

While living in Eugene, my daughter turned 17, ready for college, and wanted to move back to the Bay Area to live with her dad. So, free once more, I embarked a new adventure: with Club Med. As a Club windsurfing instructor, there was a huge revelation of exciting new countries and cultures as I relocated every six months to a different resort. Tahiti, Martinique, Santa Lucia, Brazil, Turkey, Marrakech, West Indies, Cancun, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. Those are exotic tales for another time.

Even through these years and experiences, Phil and I would come back together on my six-month breaks when I’d return to the states. We would end up getting together again for some long and short periods. One of the hardest things was the age gap. Phil was thirteen years older, but when one is young, that can seem thirty years older, and there were just certain things we couldn’t compromise on.

Also, I was teased terribly by my girlfriends with unstopping questions like – “what is it like to be with an old guy?” and “what is his skin and penis like?” and “is his skin like a normal person’s?” Very superficial and in bad taste.

To me it was a beautifully romantic time, and when I look back with joy and love at the crazy times – concerts, backstage and drugs, I am still moved. Plus, it was just to fun to hang out with such a talented star. We always got along great, delighted each other, sex was yummy, but we weren’t on the same path, the stars were not aligned. He thought it would be better if I was to move to his house in Toluca Lake. It just couldn’t work. Since the beginning, when I was a runaway at age fifteen, my dream was to be a gypsy.

END

 

*Epilogue: After the family plans of shipping Carol off backfired, Carol’s mother, herself, moved to Anchorage, Alaska. Carol and her mother made up and stayed in touch. And while Carol was in Oregon, they visited each other in Eugene and Alaska. Years later, they reunited, when her mother moved back to California and spent the last eight years of her life living with Carol and present husband Dean. In this way, Carol was able to recover her lost years with her mother.

Patrick “Pat” Burger remained close to Carol. Pat was miraculously never busted for his shenanigans and returned to a successful architecture career in New York and Marin County. In the 90’s the couple would officially divorce and marry other people. Pat passed away in 2020. Carol describes it as, “It was such a loss, like losing my best friend.”

Phil Everly, co-pioneer of country rock as the Everly Brothers, passed away at age 74 in 2014. The duo influenced the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles and many others. Lennon & McCartney once called themselves “the Foreverly Brothers.”

 

Carol at Ixtapa.

About Carol Green
Carol’s exotic later life included: Arts and Fashion Editor and Car Reviewer in the outrageously-hip Fad Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle’s Female Perspective Automotive Journalist in “Auto Style” and her own column, “Carol’s Corner” She became a member of the exclusive Western Automotive Journalists (WAJ), which at the time she appeared to be only female among mature men. Carol was regularly provided hot new cars to test-drive and review. The perks included expense-paid trips to Austria, Baha, Pebble Beach, Vegas, to name a few. Carol resides in Marin County, CA with her husband Dean 7, cat, Vespa, and Royal Enfield motorcycle.