To guarantee a great trip it was necessary for everyone to take two caps....

By guest writer Jim McCrary

Quinno asked me some time back if I wanted to write something about the "old days" In Lawrence, mostly I think from late night conversations and stories I told him when he lived here. You know the saying: "If you were there, you don't remember?" Well, maybe, maybe not. Lots of folks remember lots of stuff about the '60s... remember it in detail or remember it incorrectly.

So, the summer of 1966 in Lawrence. Downtown Lawrence. Lived up above a bookshop on Massachusetts where the ATM now is around the corner south of the Pig. Nice apartment for $75.00 a month. Not much going on downtown except the Red Dog Inn (now Liberty Hall) when Ike & Tina Turner played.Couple diners and bad restaurants... was it Ducks that had an "All You Can Eat Fried Fish Night"? Ugh!!!

There was a great pool hall at north end of downtown--dark, quiet, good pool tables and old guys playing pitch in the back. Then there was Mrs. Lincoln, musta been 80 years old, wore a dress and had her gray hair up in a bun on top of her head. She ran the ice cream shop on the corner in the Eldridge Hotel. Old-fashioned with marble counter and real Coke out of a tap. If you asked for water, you got a little silver holder with a paper cone cup in it.

The Harbor and Louise's were at the south end of downtown, and maybe another beer joint somewhere--only two or three such taverns--only 3.2 beer and only Bud or Coors. 50 cents a draw. Add tomato juice for a red beer.There were "heads" in town. You could buy a matchbox of pot for $10.00. Not much else very often. Later the Vortex newspaper would print info on what was in town and how much and how good, but in '66 it was pretty much word of mouth.

Then there was Tad: The Professor. Came up from Wellington, where his dad published the local paper. He was a true research scientist and was always looking for something to study in the field of "mind expansion." He found a connection with a nursery in Texas that sold peyote by the sackful, and he made several trips down and back.

Stopped me one day on the street and asked if I had a blender. Huh? Well, we found one and he proceeded to make peyote milkshakes. We ended up, as was his way, down on the bank of Kaw drawing pentagrams in sand--trying to call up Lucifer or some such. Was fun and scary and we eventually gave ourselves the willies, so walked over to Jessie del Campo's La Tropicana.

Had a long bar and a few tables then. Jessie was/is a classic, a good man. Knew what was going on and kept a close eye. Good always to stay on his nice side, and that really wasn't too hard to do. The Professor was a friend. We came in and ordered a couple beers to chill out. We sat, Jessie watched and after a while a tumbler full of amber liquid appeared on the bar in front of us. He gave us one of those head moves that meant something like, "Looks like you guys could use this." And we did. And it was from his under-the-bar stash of tequila. And it worked.

Anyway, wasn't long after that The Professor showed up to tell me some news. He had lost his peyote connection. Bad news. Good news was he had found a connection for LSD in Chicago. Whoopee! We decided right then to buy as much as we could, so we talked to friends who might want to invest. There had been some acid around, most everyone had heard about it, most hadn't tried it but were anxious to.

Tad and I had tried it. At first, as it came on the scene the taking of a trip was quite formal and literal, for us anyway. You prepared to take a trip just like a vacation. Packed your bags, chose a location, maybe a guide etc. You found a place, fixed it up, lit the candles, made the tea, dropped the Ravi Shanker or Eric Satie on the record player and ate the acid. Pretty strong stuff then. lasted a long time. More of a group deal. Lots of mental gymnastics. Lots of reading from Leary's book or the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Whatever.

That summer we found quite a few investors. We told them we were going out of town to score and would be back to deliver the stuff. Everyone was looking forward to the Acid Trip Experience. I guess Tad and I were, for the most part, really introducing acid to Lawrence in a way unheard of before-in quantity. The Professor and I drove to Chicago with maybe a grand in cash. Found the guy, bought the acid, which was about one-third of a baggie filled with lavender powder.

"Now, boys," the dealer says after checking us out and giving us the acid, "this is powerful stuff and ya got to cut it. Just add about one-third baking powder, mix it up and put it in #5 gel capsules. That should be about 500 mikes and a good trip." We thanked him and headed back to Lawrence.

Well there you go. And really, looking back, that is what the '60's were all about. There was a trust among fellow travelers then that was far-reaching and complete. Someone came to you and said take this, smoke this, shoot this, do whatever with this. Or read this, watch this, listen to this and do this or that. People did and for the most part--it was okay. That was important.

So, The Professor and I return with the drug. He goes to Round Corner and buys a box of capsules. We set up in my kitchen downtown with a bowl, the acid, the baking power and a spoon. It was hot, really hot, and we were sweating from the get-go and having some beer to fight the heat. Off we went--a little of this a little of that and into each capsule. Of course there was a hitch.

Sweating, fumbling with little capsules, drinking beer, the air filled with loose purple powder--you do the science. About a half-hour into the process we were blasted. Not to worry--we proceeded to fill capsules until we had the various orders from our investors filled. And off we went around town to make our deliveries.

We were both a bit, ah, zoomie by then, and I recall we discussed distribution and strength of the drug. We came up with what we thought would be a righteous plan. We had about 10-15 stops to make. At each place we explained that while capping the acid we had somewhat goofed the mixture, and to guarantee a great trip it would be necessary for everyone to take two caps. We didn't want anyone to feel left behind and we thought that was best.

Looking back, we were so obviously stoned to the gills that, well, maybe our advice wasn't perfect.

So, we went from door to door up and down Mass St, and then up the Hill to find folks at the Gaslight or Rock Chalk or at home. "Here ya go, guys. Take two. Have a great trip."

I have no idea how long that took, but I remember we hunkered down at the bar of Louise's for a rest. It was becoming awfully hard to get around and talk to people, and there seemed to be a lot of weird shit going on in Lawrence that night. (Uh huh.) Pinball seemed like the thing to do. Tad was a wizard at pinball. We sat and played and finally decided to walk up to Mass St. to my place.

As we got close to the street door we kind of glanced at each other, but since we were smacked on acid, neither of us said anything about the rather large group of hippies standing in front of the Town Crier at the door to our apartment. Maybe it was just a mutual hallucination. You know how that is. But sure enough as we arrived, we were met by a very strange group of Terribly High Freaks. Some were giddy, some were edgy, some were quiet and some were giving us the Evil Eye: at least that's what The Professor said. But then we kind of giggled and said, This is great! We're all here now!

Long story short, sort of, we had probably just instructed our friends to ingest 1,000 mikes of pure purple Owsley's Best with good intentions--but no warning label on the stuff. Of course, The Professor and I had ingested that much or more--who knew? So now we had an apartment of folks going every which way. Good, Bad, Up, Down, Sideways, Astral, Beautiful and, yes, Ugly. We did what we could. We made tea. We offered beer and wine. Tad had the greatest talent of seeing what was going on with someone and would dispense advice either in a calming fashion or the insane trickster fashion. His way was right on, and he would sit with folks having a hard time until they returned.

It was a long and crazy and wild and momentous night. No harm. No regrets. No grudges or anger from anyone, and we all went down the road together into the Summer of Love with a bonding of friendship and feeling perhaps of being one step ahead of the crowd... so to speak.

And that, children, is how acid came to Lawrence.

--If anyone who reads this was there that night, get in touch. The more I read this, the more I'm thinking the whole deal was a hullucination! But then again, it was a long time ago.... jm_


lazz 12 years, 11 months ago

Jim, you're the master. I've a ton of reactions I feel like blurting out, all of them cheesy and obvious (like, "Jim, you're the master"), but I would absolutely like to say thanks for this for helping the younger crowd see a time when downtown was very different. I'm not specifically talking the acid culture or anything else, just the city itself. History tends to be cut into three-to-five-year chunks around here, and when I spout off about downtown of the mid-70s to mid-80s I feel like an ancient old grumbler ... So, see, kids? There once was such a beautiful place, where people trusted each other and there were only a couple of bars to be found ...

copt_a_feel 12 years, 11 months ago

Makes me want to pull out my copy of "Cows Are Freaky When They Look At You." I finaly mustered enough courage to purchase a copy a few years back. The reason for the needed courage being that most of the authors of the stories were the adult figures of my childhood (including my parental units). It's amazing how quickly your perspective can change.

quinn 12 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence legend George Kimball is a prominent figure in COWS ARE FREAKY. He was in town briefly when I was, and I saw him for about 10 seconds at the BP.

George writes for (among others) the Boston Herald and the Irish Times; unfortunately both papers have paysites. See

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 12 years, 11 months ago

That was freaking awesome. Makes me wish I'd done acid back in the day when people actually looked out for you when you were on a bad trip, instead of leaving you alone until the neighbor called the cops because your head banging against his wall from the grand mal seizures was keeping him awake. . . .

Carmenilla 12 years, 11 months ago

Cows are freaky indeed....When I read about the history of Lawrence, courtesy of Mr.McCrary it makes me proud to be a townie.

We want more please. Uh, writing I mean...

Noah Larsen 12 years, 11 months ago

I'd heard the story from Quinn several times, but this rocks. Well done, Jim.

edie_ 12 years, 11 months ago

Beautiful! You have a way with words Mr. McCrary. Great to see your snazzy storytelling here. Tell us more!

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 12 years, 11 months ago

Hey, Phil, give this man his own blog, dammit!!!!!!!

jimm 12 years, 11 months ago

Thanks to all for the kind words. mccrary

David Ryan 12 years, 11 months ago

Jim should indeed have his own blog. What a good idea.

I second that motion.

quinn 12 years, 11 months ago

hey david--

did you get my email? Federalist 76?

quinn 12 years, 11 months ago

And I, too, join the chorus demanding a JIM McCRARY BLOG!

Bill Woodard 12 years, 11 months ago

(Chiming in) Altogether now, PLEASE, A JM BLOG! (Great stuff, Jim.)

Kelly Powell 12 years, 11 months ago

On a tangent.....Has anyone seen this "going tribal" show on discovery channel? I guess it is a shorter title than "going to remote cultures and getting fucked up on exotic hallucinogens"....Either this guy is faking it or he is a ballsy man for mixing and matching alkaloids.

manofleisure 12 years, 11 months ago

Jim, Excellent work. A blast to read.


ps talk to you soon.

quinn 12 years, 11 months ago

Shibley just told me about the fire:

One of the victims is Llawrence's legendary hipster archivist, Bill Lee. Shib says Bill is OK, but he lost his archives--probably the most complete record of the Kansas/Lawrence music scene in existence.

Life is always more important than stuff. The real tragedy in the fire are the injuries. But don't underestimate the magnitude of this loss. Bill, the force behind the Fresh Sounds From Middle America samplers, is a walking encyclopedia of Lawrence music, and his archives are our institutional memory. If it's true that all is lost, well, that's a heartbreaker.

I'm x-posting to Cup O'Joel. This is Joel's story; as you can see, he's doing a terrific job.

quinn 12 years, 11 months ago

Oops! make that Bill Rich!

Sorry Bill--I was thinking about the last time we talked at the Old Man's place on Learnard. My apologies.

quinn 12 years, 11 months ago

Oops again... I have to learn to slow down on the trigger. I'm an idiot.

The dispossessed Bill is indeed Bill Lee, who wrote Dino Tracks for The Note and (along w/ Bill Rich, who did Fresh Sounds) is the definitive archivist of the scene. My abject apologies for jumping the gun, I was utterly stunned to learn of the fire and then of Bill's losses, and I screwed this all up. My apologies to both Bills.

But it is Bill LEE who was burned out last night, and Bill Lee whose priceless collection has gone up in smoke, and I shall now retire to avoid adding any more confusion to the confusion I've already created. i should prolly not try to report on this from Frisco, Colorado.

sjwilson 12 years, 11 months ago

yes. it was that bill. and not this bill. bill lee. not bull lee. i think those of us who have some of the artifacts that bill lost in the fire(now likely to have been set by some screwed up kid)should volunteer to help him rebuild. i know i'm good for the thumbs and mahoots crap.

jim's tale was most entertaining. i was all of thirteen at the time, but as a townie i recall the lawrence of which he speaks. downtown was pretty much as he describes up through the late seventies. at various points throw in decent pizza at earl's and the campus hideway into the mix... few bars, occasional live sounds at the red dog(liberty hall), etc. wow, everybody remembers the ike and tina gig, i guess. it was one of the earliest i snuck in the back door for. until the seventh spirit emerged in the basement of liberty in the early seventies, there was this one class "c"(i think)club downtown, close to where sunflower bike is now, that had booze that was supposedly private stash, but everyone drank off of "johnson" or "smith's" bottle. nudge nudge.

the seventh spirit was a great watering hole, serving the underaged me as early as eighteen. bless their hearts.

even in the late seventies, early eighties there were not nearly so many bars, but by then at least two had live music on a consistent basis and the opera house(liberty hall, again)had a pretty steady stream of major acts, domestic and international.

fuck, i ramble. just got my tired old self in from a gig at the bottleneck tonite.

"cows" aside, much of the history of underground lawrence remains to be told. i certainly have the experience to pitch in...and kudos to jim for sharing his adventures.

to our fair city, sjw.

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