Hippies

When did the name “Hippies” enter into common conversation? Most, I suspect, would date this as sometime around the “Summer of Love,” as the media named it.

That’s 1967. And the location was San Francisco. The intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets, specifically.

Know-it-all Wikipedia indicates “Hippies” is derived from “Hipsters,” a term used to describe Greenwich Village Beatniks.

I recall touring Greenwich Village as a youngster with my father and innocently (at least as innocent as a 10 year old can be) asking where all the Beatniks were.

“They’re all night owls,” he replied authoritatively. And that ended that.

“Hip,” of course, is very different from “Hep” such that the former precludes the latter. A claim of being “Hep” surely confirms one is not “Hip.”

Wikipedia also notes an earlier reference to “Hippies”: a September 5, 1965 article entitled “A New Haven for Beatniks.” And the site further claims the original spelling, “Hippy,” was changed in order “to avoid the ambiguous description of clothing as hippy fashions.”

Not sure what’s meant by this. Pants that flare out just below the waist? Doesn’t sound all that flattering.

The commercialization of Hippies began, ironically, nearly as soon as the term passed into common parlance.

As an underage youth, I also recall going to Café Wha?, on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village, where they were glad to serve youngsters such as myself Brandy Bastards, and similar cleverly named alcoholic beverages.

The place, surprisingly, still exists. Albeit in revived form. You can look it up.

Also part of the temporal jargon was “Groovy.” I don’t recall ever using the word, except in a mocking, sarcastic tone.

A recent issue of “Time” magazine reports “Groovy” emerging as slang for “excellent” in 1937.

But the Orlons had a hit record, “South Street,” in 1963. One lyric from the song: “Where do all the hippies meet? South Street, South Street.”

The Philadelphia quartet was referencing a Philadelphia street that, by the time I showed up (1978ish) was still a trendy, if somewhat seedy place.

Hippies meet on Philadelphia’s South Street. Groovy.