There was a time or at least the story goes... before the born again followers became organized as fetus focussed, homophobic, racists, in search of a Rockwellian lifestyle. A time before the now grayed or balding, well aged cynics, ranted at the demons from their past in an effort to push for progress in the future.
A time that spawned both groups from the same innocent seeds of self discovery.
The summer of 68 was such a time, trapped in history between the birth of all things psychedelic and the death of Meredith Hunter at a California speedway.
As a recently departed room service elevator operator, I spent the middle of 68 traveling back and forth between Banff and Vancouver.
It was a time of contrasting visions, as I moved from hand painted flats with moving walls on the coast, to pup tents on Rundle, where at night you could discover your true place in the universe.
Speed had not yet hit the street or become part of the cut, while acid and shrooms were still legal to possess.
As an army of the wide eyed pushed further with their self focussed purpose, there were the expected casualties and deserters. Some died, some withdrew and hid and others formed a new perverted strain in an effort to explain, what they had experienced and or gained.
One such group were the so called Jesus freaks, who having suffered bad trips and misunderstood hallucinations believed that they had died and been reborn in the presence of a God. A religious counter culture if you will, that similar to the ancient established religions, grew from plain fear and paranoia.
Because paranoia was rampant in 68 and no more so, than amongst the terrified citizenry. A citizenry whose media demanded action from it’s government and policing forces.
But how do you arrest the giggling, dancers, speaking a language of their own, with the ability to see through lies and deception, while perceiving threats and danger by auras and vibrations alone.
Well in summer of 68 the RCMP rounded up the youngest of their recruits and shipped them off to a mountain getaway to learn how from the more experienced FBI and form Canada’s first undercover narcotics police force.
The word was, that the four week indoctrination course, would eventually lead to a live graduation ceremony in Banff which was expected to repeat as a centralized hub for marijuana smoking youth. After all possession of the evil weed was illegal in Canada.
Controlling your fear, hiding your disgust and mastering a new language could be taught, but how could you get a large number of clean cut, shorter haired officers blended into the expected of dope smoking youth. The answer was the Jesus Freaks.
The plan became to release the graduating class into Banff as born again christians on a mission to save souls.
So as the gift shop owners sold used centennial quarters for a dollar to naive American tourists, and the dancers flipped burgers and washed dishes, 40 or so born agains hit the streets of the quiet mountain town.
Of course there was no weed in Banff by mid summer, the only smoke on Rundle was from camp fires. The only drugs being sold were those sold at the Harmony Drug Store (which I always thought was a nice name for a drug store) and the only high was the tingling of 30 or so ephedrine if you faked an asthmatic attack.
The biggest past time became seeing how long you could keep the clean cut, cool talking, inquisitors, with shiny shoes talking about god. After all they didn’t spend four weeks studying theology.
No busts were made, no souls were saved, the inquisitors moved on and the dishwasher continued on his route back to Van.
For Beijing and JJ