|Looking through the crystal ball, recalling old memories|
Reefer Madness, the 1936 American propaganda exploitation film, made me laugh when we saw it at the movie theater sometime in the 1970's. In fact, it was early in the 1970’s when we had just moved from Chicago to Minnesota. After we tried the rural life and found it too hard to just jump into, we moved back to the city. St. Paul, to be exact, and rented a place. We had one daughter back then. Numbers two and three hadn’t arrived yet.
There was a young couple, unmarried, co-habitating hippies, living above us. I guess we were living the hippie doctrine as well, we were married though. Howie and Paula, the folks upstairs, were nice people. Back in those days, at least for us, we had no extra money and never strayed too far from home and the macaroni and cheese. Neither did Howie and Paula.
We shared a lot of dinners with those guys. Paula worked for the University of Minnesota at one of their research farms. She was working on a project that had to do with turkeys. She’d bring home flats of fresh turkey eggs and we’d scramble a bunch or make these surrealistic oversized deviled eggs and omelets the size of your head!
|7.5 Gallon cooking Pot|
Due to our vice habits of smoking way too much pot, the large turkey eggs and copious quantities of anything we made for dinner was suitable. Seems like we always had enough money for a little reefer. If we didn’t, then one of our friends did. This was the social life of just about everyone we knew. Go to work and come home and sit around and smoke pot. We’d eat, then crash and do it again the next day. On weekends we’d just skip the work part and get high all day. Oh, and listen to a large, loud, blasting stereo playing the Allman Brothers or “Inagodadivita”.
Howie and Paula were from a small town called Spooner, Wisconsin. Howie was working for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad and was transferred to St. Paul from Wisconsin. They both still had family and friends back home. These friends would come and visit once in a while and their friends became our friends quickly, mostly because of our pastime. We were very kind and happy people back then, and I like to think we are still very kind, mostly happy and caring people, sans the pot, in todays scheme of things.
|Japanese hot Pot|
These folks from Wisconsin also worked on the railroad. One of them found that there was a plethora of Cannabis Sativa growing all along the railroad tracks. They called it ditch weed and it was ripe for the plucking. Another friend, Steve, picked bags full of this ditch weed and dried it out to get it into usable condition.
"Ditch weed," is a term the government agency that enforces the burning of seized pot uses to define "Wild, scattered marijuana plants with no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending."
Unlike cultivated marijuana, ditch weed contains virtually no detectable levels of THC, the psychoactive component in pot, and does not contribute to the black market marijuana trade. The reason there is so much ditch weed along the railroad tracks is said to be that trains hauled the hemp plants that were used in the making of manila, or hemp, rope during WWII. The seeds fell from the train and flourished, unattended, along the tracks, in the ditch.
|Ditch weed, growing in Kansas|
Try as we might, we smoked and smoked and never got the tiniest sense of a buzz from the ditch weed. That was too bad. For we had enough of that stuff to keep us in tall clover for a long time and even the possibility to make a few bucks in the process. But from resourcefulness came an even better idea.
|Curry hot Pot|
Steve’s girlfriend, Laurie, took some of the ditch weed and ground it up in a blender and made it into a powder that had the consistency close to that of flour. She added this “flour” into a chocolate chip cookie recipe and fed them to the hungry mouths of the munchie driven masses.
Low and behold, the ditch weed worked wonders when baked and the results were an everlasting blast of euphoria which came on exactly one and one-half hours after swallowing the first bite. We used that green flour in everything. Cookies, cake, mashed potatoes and the ever popular chocolate fudge walnut laden brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar.
One time I was on the road working as an over-the-road truck driver and brought a batch of these cookies with me. I was laid up in Walla Walla, Washington and spent some time late into the night in a place called the Zodiac Bar. I met some folks over cold beer and the conversation led to the ditch weed and the fact that I had some of these magic cookies.
I left town in the morning, but not before dropping off a few of the baked morsels to my new found friends. I told them to call me sometime and tell me what they thought of the cookies. When I returned home from a west coast run, I had gotten a phone call and this fellow tells me how much he enjoyed the ditch weed delights.
You gotta remember, this is in 1976 and there were no cell phones and long distance was still expensive. This guy was so impressed he made the high buck long distance call to thank me and wanted me to mail him some more cookies.
Another time, when Howie and Paula decided to tie the knot and get married, we went to the wedding which was held in Paula’s Mom and Dad’s back yard back in Spooner, a beautiful place on the banks of the Yellow River. The dinner, if you will, was a keg of beer and these beautiful loaves of cranberry orange nut bread made with locally grown Wisconsin cranberries. A tub of butter for slatherin’ was on each and every table. These loaves of bread were thickly laced with the ditch weed flour.
We ate and ate this bread and drank and drank the beer and nothing happened. I guess the recipe, being different from the cookies and brownies, made the impact time longer. We ate so much of that sweetbread that by the time the high kicked in, we had ingested enough to keep us high for a week.
We partied all night, slept eight hours, got up, ate breakfast and lunch and found ourselves still holding the buzz. It was so out of control that we just decided to smoke one because we couldn’t wait any longer to come down from the cranberry orange nut bread fiasco.
Well, the ditch weed cookie craze went out of favor after a while and we went back to good old pot smoking again. Time went on and many years and many a joint later, I happen to be on an Amtrak with a very good friend. I was older now and had more sense. Well, maybe just older.
I got a hold of some pot and baked a half dozen cookies. Since we couldn’t smoke pot on the train, (actually, there was no smoking of any kind in any car on that particular train. People with cigarette habits waited until a station stop would allow enough time to get off the train and grab a quick smoke on the platform), we ate them cookies and drank good gourmet coffee that we had brought from home and brewed in the snack car, getting free hot water from the attendant.
We sat in the scenic vista car as we rode the tracks through the Rocky Mountains, all the world taking on a new light. Each of us giggled and laughed like the old days and we talked of the memories of those days of our lives.
I guess now, as I approach geezerhood, it might seem a bit odd to divulge to you, my readers, escapades of my youth that were illegal and to some of you, immoral. But I’m just taking the advice from a friend that says I need to laugh at least once everyday while I go through life’s progressions.
Recalling bits and pieces of the pot head days made me laugh and brought back the pleasant thoughts of old friends.
A couple of years ago, around summertime, we were at a Pow Wow near Spooner, WI. A lady sat behind us and recognized us by my voice and she tapped me on the shoulder. It was Paula. We hadn’t seen each other in some 35 years. We sat and laughed about our antics. And more recent than that, I just said, "See you later", to one of my best friends in the world. Someone who has shared all the triumphs and heartaches, the birthing' and the buryin', right along with me.
It was a good visit, both when I was out in California and when he was here in Wisconsin. We also traveled all the way here and half way back together as well as spent time riding our motorcycles, working on the house, building and remodeling and having numerous jam sessions in the newly formed downstairs studio.
The rest of the Summer will be spent finishing the home projects, riding the new Triumph motorcycle and taking the Grandkids to the local swimming hole. If you had asked me back in the pot head days, many years ago, how I’d want my future to be, I’d have expressed a scenario just like the one I have, sans the heart attacks and the loss of my oldest daughter.
So, laugh often. Enjoy every day you can. Take those trips. Visit old friends. See the family members that live far away. Old memories may be good or bad, but seems like the funny ones are easier to share, especially with the people you went through them with.