Jerry Garcia was a San Francisco kid through and through. He was raised in the tough Outer Mission by his grandmother who was a no-nonsense organizer for a local union. Jerry would hang out at his mother’s bar in the Embarcadero with hard-drinking longshoremen. In fact, his Irish legacy in the City goes back to the Gold Rush days. So you can see that perhaps he was more than a little miffed when Chief Cahill and Mayor Shelley and others referred to him as an “outsider”, but that was the way he and the Grateful Dead were treated during the Summer of Love in 1967.
Jerry Garcia in the Haight:
At the time, I lived on the corner of Hayes and Stanyon, down the street from the Jefferson Airplane and a few blocks from Big Brother in the Panhandle. The Grateful Dead had moved into a thirteen-room Victorian at 710 Ashbury Street where the band embraced the neighborhood and where we included them as one of our own. Jerry Garcia and his boys would play for free in Golden Gate Park. They also provided rent-free space in their home for some of Vincent Hallinan’s young attorneys. The Haight-Ashbury Legal Organization (HALO) did pro bono legal work for runaways, draft dodgers and pot smokers. This did not sit well with the Irish establishment downtown. Justin Herman of the Redevelopment Agency tried to shut down the Fillmore Auditorium, one of the Dead’s main venues, but Bill Graham would have none of it. He blackmailed City Hall by threatening to send incriminating photos of officials visiting a brothel to The Chronicle if his dance hall permit was not renewed.
One afternoon in October, I remember carrying for a sick woman when carloads of narcs invaded the Dead house across the street. Next, I saw Jerry and his girlfriend, Mountain Girl, who were ambling up the lane with their groceries. I leaned out the window and warned the duo. The city and state cops, however, did drag off Bob Weir and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and a pound of marijuana. I can remember the Chronicle making a big fuss over the arrest, which was exactly what Jerry and his merrymakers wanted. The issue came to a crescendo with neighborhood delegations meeting with both Shelley and Cahill. We took care of one another until we weren’t allowed to. The Summer of Love was the beginning of the end as the old Irish brotherhood refused to cede control of its domain.
The above scene is narrated in my next novel, a historical crime tale of mobsters, musicians and politicians. Stay tuned for Don’t Stop the Music. Until then, keep the peace, my brother.
Image By Carl Lender – https://www.flickr.com/photos/clender/7246206076/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46752525