How did you first get to where you call home? Here in West Marin it’s quiet and overcast, before the visitors arrive, and the fog burns off. It was like that when I first came here for a visit to my uncle and brother in May 1971. I was living in London, and got a multi-stop, round trip ticket to visit people all over the US — Cambridge, Philadelphia, Falls Church, Phoenix, and Pt. Reyes. I’d written to my brother and uncle at PO Box 73, PRS, gave them my flight info, and asked them to pick me up at the SF airport. They didn’t have a telephone.
At first I couldn’t believe it. There was no one to meet me. I paged them, repeatedly, over the white courtesy telephone (do airports still have those?). It finally dawned on me that they probably weren’t coming, so I found the Greyhound Bus station. I tried to buy a ticket for Pt. Reyes Station, and the man gave me a funny look, saying he’d never heard of the place. He directed me to the bus schedules, where I found that the one and only bus had left Fairfax at 7 p.m. A father and son were there buying their tickets, and told me they lived in Petaluma, and they’d heard of Pt. Reyes, though they’d never been there. If I wanted to take a bus into SF, and then wait with them for the bus to Petaluma, they’d drive me out to my uncle’s place. It was a very long night. I didn’t realize that the airport was so far south of the City.
We waited for what felt like hours in the Transbay Terminal, and then caught a local bus to Petaluma. It stopped in every town along the way. The wife/mother met us at the bus station (where the art center now is), took us to the house, and fed us sandwiches. The son and I got into the family station wagon, and headed west.
By now I was realizing that the only address I had for the Whitman’s was a post office box. But so far I’d been lucky, and with the naive optimism of a twenty-year old, I figured we’d find them. We drove all over, in the dark, from Pt. Reyes, to Olema, to Inverness. Finally at 5 a.m. we pulled over on Bear Valley Road, he climbed into the back seat, and we slept for a couple of hours. Pt. Reyes Station was deserted that morning, but I remembered that my brother had a job in town, working for Captain Swenson, who had a chair caning business. There, on the window of the shop, was hope — a card with a phone number on it. I called, and got vague directions to Portola Avenue, he wasn’t sure of the house number. So I started knocking on doors. It was early, and the first person wasn’t happy to be disturbed, had never heard of them. I hit the jackpot at the next one. The family there knew them well, and directed me to my brother’s place, down a path, to the communal house he was living in. His bedroom was a makeshift wikiup in the yard, and he emerged from it with a big grin on his face, saying “You made it!” They hadn’t checked their mail.
At this point, the young man from Petaluma’s eyes were getting bigger and bigger. He’d heard of hippies, but I doubt he’d ever gotten this close to them. Once he determined that I’d found my family, he quietly slipped away. I don’t remember his name. Without him, and his father, who knows how I’d have gotten here?
The commune folks found me a tent on a platform, under a tree with a hummingbird’s nest in it. I stayed for two weeks, and then returned to London. In September, I moved to West Marin. Crazy story, eh? How did you first get to where you call home?