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Home Free Home: A History of Two Open-Door California Communes

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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25

Chapter 25
Other Lands

Other righteous people followed Lou's example and dedicated their property to God. In January, 1971, Gary Ward, a Morning Star graduate, deeded an inherited quarter-acre parcel to God in Lake County. The duly recorded deed states that, aside from ownership of the property, God also has bathing rights in Clear Lake.

In April of that same year, Near received a letter from her childhood friend Ann saying she was coming to visit Morning Star with her husband Noel and their little girl Ping. They arrived shortly thereafter, having driven across the country in their old station wagon. Near and Ann spent hours talking about old times together, and then Near gave them the full tour before they moved into an abandoned house in the barnyard.

About a week later, Noel and Ann returned to Connecticut where they sold their house and went on the road searching for land to buy. In June, they wrote to announce they had purchased a one-thousand-acre place in Kentucky and deed it directly to God. Don and Sandy King left to being living there, followed shortly by other folks. From all reports, it is the most beautiful piece of Open Land so far. Subsequently it also received a name from the Litany to the Blessed Virgin -- Gate Of Heaven.

In 1968, a doctor from Brooklyn named Emmanuel Bomse showed up at Morning Star. He was searching for his son Bob who had dropped out and changed his name to 'Bellybutton.' He frankly admitted their relationship had deteriorated before they lost contact.

"Buy some land and open it up," Lou told him. "Then your son will show up."

'Manny' became a good friend, and kept in touch through frequent letters. Finally he went on a visit to Morning Star East in New Mexico. Located on some land near Arroyo Hondo, a group including David and Penny Pratt, Pam and Larry Read, Cindy and many others were busy building a beautifully designed adobe building. During his time there, Manny witnessed his first on-the-land birth. A few months later he found some land and prepared to purchase it. To his delight, he received a phone call from Bellybutton. He asked him what he wanted to name the property, and Bellybutton suggested 'Kingdom of Heaven.' So that became its name, but unfortunately the local residents found the newcomers too far out. It was a time of considerable tension between the Mexican-American oldtimers and the new wave of young people streaming into the Southwest. There were some shootings, with the result that the property had to be abandoned.

Morning Star East also had a difficult struggle. Starting from scratch on arid desert land, they attempted bravely to make an open-door community viable in a much harsher climate and finally had to admit defeat. Here are some excerpts from the correspondence.

Dear Gina, Ramón, Bill and Gwen, Lou and Near:

Well.. well.. well. Yes, I said, yes I will say yes. Here in Morningstar Pueblo Home for Retired Hippies I don't know what the world is coming to, I declare.

Objective news:
Purple Air, 8 pounds & something
Boy of Beatrice and Willie B.
and very purple and very airy
It's scary. Scratch that.

Other news: There are probably 80 to 100 people here, and they're all digging holes and they're all 15 years old and there's general alarm but also desperate boredom. We really ought to really come up with something better to get the old spring adrenaline going than

that. But's it's coming to the fore, as it were, the adrenaline, I mean. There's a Zen Macrobiotic Church which includes this whole mesa -- The Reality Construction Company and Morningstar. Reggie and Larry Stein are officers along with Michael and people from Reality.

And the well is soon to be working, and there's a new road from the Dome, and there have been Peyote meetings this winter. I've been to two, a lot of us have, and the weather is generally warm.

My duplex switching system has a chattering relay, Larry says. The trouble with letters is that I seem to think they have to be progress reports, and I can't report on any progress except on such strange spaces.

I made a patchwork Morning Star shirt and wear it constantly except to put on combat uniform to haul wood and chop water. David has made a new chopping block.

There was a meeting of all Morningstar called yesterday morning for the afternoon, and by afternoon it was totally forgotten about by all, and there is some concern about tightening up our schedule.

And the Kiva is really far out -- sometimes those underground vibes get so high that I'm sure some of the earth goes with it -- the whole mesa, maybe.

Ramón, some of your songs are always floating around in the air. "Great Eternal Mother" (that one cools the kids out), "Only Thou" -- sung with Peyote Songs. "You Are A Sacred Vessel" -- magic.

Love to you from


We just got a telescope with a sun lens, along with a corporation -- Zen Macrobiotic Church -- which is being renovated into a legal front to protect Michael from sole responsibility for other people's indiscretions.

However corporations have a voting group which, if taken seriously, amounts to a government (thus building and zoning codes, population control, etc. bullshit, 'No Dogs" karma wheel). Morningstar production: New person clears away sagebrush, begins to dig hole. Someone says, "You can't do that here."

Call a meeting in the Kiva. Nobody comes to the meeting.

I yell at the kids painting graffiti on the vegas, "You'd better fucking stop that now!" High on mescaline, I repent and take a wood chisel to the Kiva.


Sure is fast and far-out here


Dear Lou and Near:

Have just completed a day of silence -- no small feat for a compulsive babbler.

All but one couple has moved into the pueblo. It's not exaggerating to say we're ecstatically happy in our new home. The three Gothic arches in the back wall of our room (facing East) and the Japanese door in front plus the adobe stove and the skylight give a lot of variety to a 12 by 12 room.

All the rooms are vastly different. You've got to come and see.

Children are fine, People fine. I have a premonition that we will all be quite different people in the spring. Social barriers are dissolving. We're looking forward to learning to open up and see the hassles in perspective as they occur.

New concepts of privacy are formulating themselves. Everybody seems more alive all

the time. All phases of life, all aspects, have within themselves the capacity for greater consciousness. Everyday life is becoming a yoga. Boredom is nonexistent -- at least from where I stand. Playing a lot of music -- Paul's room a Scandinavian-type masterpiece. David's a Tolkien masterpiece.

Right now everyone is more or less physically exhausted and spending days learning to relax and adjust to new life, and putting around with final touches -- i.e. doors, windows, plaster, etc. Next main problem is firewood. We have none -- have to gather it.

Michael engineered a lake in the valley -- a natural thing to do with a stagnant pond. IT's really beautiful and deep. I'm excited about planting flowers around it next spring.

Main purpose of this letter is to send you some homegrown.

Love to you.

Pam and Larry

Siddartha and Psyche


Dear Lou:

This afternoon I returned from New Mexico where I spent a week tying loose ends together. A contract has been signed, a down payment made, and an 'abstract' of the title has been started. If all goes well, we should have the land in about a month. Hallelujah!

On Friday I signed the contract. On Saturday my son Bob suddenly appeared on the mesa! Hallelujah again! He had hitchhiked from Los Angeles. If he had come one day later or I had left one day sooner, we would have missed each other.

The moment I arrive on the mesa the babies start popping. Some people are rainmakers -- I seem to bring on the babies. Rose and Barbara gave birth while I was here. That's three out of four who were born while I was there, not counting another one over at Reality.

I still haven't given up on contacting parents. I plan to keep after them and see what happens. Some results are already visible. Parents are visiting their kids on the mesa. Larry Stein and Jane are writing to their families. There is communication. There may be much more. Who can foretell?



Dear Lou and Near,

Charlie is not a wino at all. He just got slightly drunk one night on some homebrew that tasted more like beer. That was before 'Professor' left who now is back here once again.

While the bulldozers were over there with you, we were putting on our roofs which we still are. IT's a long process, and we're about a third of the way done. Each fireplace is beautiful and very different from any other. Charlie designed his window like this:

/| | | |\

| | | | | |

Other windows are triangles, diamond, eight-sided, six-sided, five-sided, and a cross and some rectangles too.


| There was going

to be a round room

Ernest here, but three

& Rosanne David Rob couples came late

& Sharon & Bonnie and wanted rooms.


& Linda Charlie

Byron & Wayne


& Pam Paul

& Rose


& Pat Reggie

& Barbara

kitchen Joe David Bea

& Kathy & Penny & kids Kiva

The kitchen will be two stories with a cone on top, but it's only part way up on one story and we don't have the bucks to finish it. So probably next spring.

There are a few other houses on the outskirts of the pueblo. Al's house, Jeff and Laura's and two others.

March 1970

Mesa Mumblings

Dear Lou, Near, Ramón, Gina and friends

Very happy to know Gina is pregnant. Is that still for sure? Laura is pregnant once again. I don't know if we told you, but Dave and Sharon have a baby girl, 5 pounds 5 ounces on the day of the Solar eclipse. Also on the same day, Buffalo Bob from New Buffalo left his body which had T.B. He was buried on the land.

A free-lance photographer and his wife who writes for him is here taking pictures, so there should be some more media stuff on us soon. (You saw the Parade article, I guess). Well, there's lots of controversy about it, but they said they won't give location or any names.

A few people from Reality came over to run new people off, but no success. Another man from Reality was here yesterday in a much different mood, pointing out passages from the Bible.

Raymond and Florence just arrived with three youngest kids. Allen Ginsberg was seen over at New Buffalo and invited here today. Peyote runs from Texas got back with about seventy pounds for the Easter prayer meeting. We gave some to New Buffalo for their Good Friday night meeting. A snake came and whispered in someone's ear 'be careful' when they were lying in the peyote fields. As they left the tiny town of 100, they saw a crew of roadblocks going the other way, but no notice was taken of them (Morningstar heroes) as they passed. We had an Indian to run the meeting, but he backed out so we may have to have a non-Indian meeting.

Pam is now living with Findley whom you met when you were here. He's got red hair, and Psyche and Siddartha are living with them in a tipi. Larry usually lives alone now. He's doing pretty good work.

News has it that Ginsberg just arrived at Pam's tipi. Please send more Manifestos if you can. We gave the last one to the photographer. Send more Morningstar cards too. David has been loudly singing Waterloo. A greenhouse is going up.

Lots of love from the Rest Home of Burned-Out Hippies.


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