Maysville & The God**** Hippies - Part III
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
Excerpt from Howl (1955), Allen Ginsberg
When Ken Kesey moved to the little town of La Honda, California, the 250 people living there hardly knew what they were in for. Maysville Kentucky native Ed McClanahan followed as did many others from the bohemian scene at Palo Alto. Before long, all manner of beatniks and hippies had gathered there. According to McClanahan, the residents of La Honda "just didn't know what in the world they had coming down on themselves. They were scared to death."
Among the group were The Grateful Dead (still known as the Warlocks), fellow Kentuckian and Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Neal Cassady, and even the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang converged in La Honda. Within the larger group, a small clique of hippies known as the Band of Merry Pranksters formed, headed by Kesey. The Pranksters would head off periodically in a 1939 International Harvester bus, Day-Glo painted and named "Furthur", to "acid tests" around the country, preaching the hippy gospel and gathering followers.
McClanahan, however, stayed behind and didn't ride the bus into these forays. Later he expressed a little regret in not going, but at the time he had a wife and two children to think of. He said he knew that at some point the Band of Merry Pranksters was bound to get busted.
And busted they were.
Kesey had already been arrested twice before for marijuana possession, so his arrest in January 1966 carried an automatic three-year jail term. He ended up fleeing to Mexico with many of the other group members following. McClanahan, who wasn't arrested along with the others, stayed in La Honda before eventually returning to Palo Alto. "By that time Ken was in Mexico hiding out," McClanahan said. "And life in La Honda was not all that entertaining without him around."
Eventually, Ed McClanahan returned to Maysville Kentucky.
The story concludes in Part IV...
See also: Part II