Tinker Posted May 6, 2009 Share Posted May 6, 2009 Fencing Off--- Here in the coastal mountains of Northern California, just a little over an hour drive north of San Francisco, there are 30 acres of land that were legally deeded to “God”. The heirs of the man who deeded the property to God, finely gained title after years of wrangling in the courts and I believe the government also got involved. How does one negotiate a land deal with God and how do you collect property tax from God? It began in the 60s at the height of the Hippie movement, when San Francisco’s Haight Ashberry district was beginning to be recognized as the place where America’s young were tuning in and dropping out. They heard the call from the popular bass player of the hit group Limeliters to come north and live free. Lou Gottlieb, a tall, long haired, bearded musician had purchased a ranch which he named Morning Star and dedicated it to the concept of “open land”. Believing that fences and borders were the cause of war, greed and dissention. He opened the ranch to any and all who would like to join him, no fences. All you had to do was pitch a tent, a teepee or build a lean-to and you were home. Over the next few years the commune was emulated over and over through out the country and even the world but Morning Star seems to have gained the most notoriety. In the good days Lou would gather his followers in front of the ranch house where the meals were prepared by female members of the group. Much of the fare was provided by the communal garden everyone seemed to joyfully tend. At its peak it was known as the digger ranch because the organic garden not only fed the ranch residents, but the produce was sent to the city to supply kitchens feeding the homeless and other start up communities like Morning Star. Residents of the ranch would come and muck the horse manure and fir shavings from my stable once a week to fertilize their garden. In the early evening they would play their guitars, sing and smoke weed, take an occasional acid trip and listen to Lou just talk. I have to admit, he had charisma and could charm any who heard his voice. He would stop in at our local coffee shop on occasion and even the local rednecks would listen to his gentle philosophizing, you couldn't help yourself. But the good days didn’t last long, neighbors began complaining. There were several incidences like when Michael, a resident of the ranch, naked, tripped out on acid and Quaaludes, manically laughed and danced and ran in circles while the police tried to grab him on the public road in front of the entrance to the ranch. Those incidents made some folks nervous. Then there were no sanitation facilities on the ranch which eventually created health hazards and obnoxious odors emanating from the area. And there were the problems caused by some residents accused of petty theft and one reported case of rape. I was told by one of residents that there was one guy on the ranch who regularly raped the girls there but "the girls handled it maturely" (those were the teller's words) and put up with it without complaint, because they understood he had problems. Clearly there was no screening of the residents, any and all were welcome. Sex, drugs and rock and roll was daily fare. Well really not rock and roll, the music had a more folksy sound. The number of residents of Morning Star would dwindle in the cold of winter but would again peak when the weather warmed up. Eventually the authorities cracked down and slapped Lou with fines and legal problems that over the years wore him down. The multiple makeshift buildings were bulldozed by the Sheriff's department and Lou’s followers drifted away. Before he died, Lou legally deeded Morning Star Ranch to God thus ending the deluge of fines and lawsuits. I drive by the rain rutted driveway to the vacant ranch everyday and sometimes flash on the image of a yellow daisy painted on the pregnant belly of one of the regulars of long ago. ~~Judi Van Gorder Quote ~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~ For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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