Los Angeles in the 1970s

11 Nov

ImageImage I moved to Los Angeles, California in June 1971, when I transferred my job with the Post Office, from Michigan. It was an easy transition, since I was used to the big city in Detroit, but with sunshine year ’round it had an entirely different zeitgeist, which I succumbed to with relish. Charles Manson had been on trial a couple of months before our arrival, and we stayed at the Sunset Motel, our first week in town, not far from where his female disciples wore sack cloth and walked on their bloody knees for Charlie. The motel swimming pool was not working and was empty, while Hollywood and Sunset boulevards were full of Hippie head shops, vegetarian restaurants, and health food stores, along with strip joints and rock clubs, like Gazzarris and the Whiskey A Go Go.

The corner of Sunset and Vine was congested with hippies trying to score a hit or a bag and gay blades trying to score a pickup. Jesus freaks carried Bibles and handed out tracts telling of how Jesus died for our sins. Tony and Sue Alamo would have a bus pick up runaways, stoned hippies, and anyone else who wanted a free meal or bed, and bring them back to their ranch, where they would be pressured to stay. Then there was the Children of God, who would send out enticing young women to lure potential converts to their commune, where they would be brainwashed. At the same time a short haired man in black rimmed glasses, wearing a suit and sandwich sign was proclaiming that the end is near, as he told the crowd that they were all going to hell.

On the east end of Sunset, where it turns into Macy and heads into East L.A., is Figueroa travelling North and South as it leads to the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel headquarters and the original location of L.I.F.E. Bible College. Bible students head into Echo Park to witness to homeless people who sleep in the bushes, live out of shopping carts, and ask for a buck. InΒ the heart of downtown Los AngelesΒ is the Azusa Street Mission, the site of the birth of the modern Pentecostal movement in a formerΒ African Methodist Episcopal Church.Β  The Agape Inn coffee house in the Highland Park District, and the Salt Company back in Hollywood were some of the inner city sites of Jesus rock. South of L.A., in Costa Mesa, not too far from the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, was Calvary Chapel, where they erected a tent to hold the overflow crowd overwhelming the newly constructed auditorium. On Saturday nights the tent would be packed with hippie Jesus freaks rocking out to the tunes of Love Song, Children of the Day, the Way, Mustard Seed Faith, Debbie Kerner, Karen Lafferty, Ken Gullickson, and Tom Stipe. This was the cauldron that was labeled the Jesus movement.

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