Leslie Horne, 3/16/99: My dear Mr. Sender, I
came across the MOST newsletter, the Digger Archives, and your exquisite
chronicle of Morningstar Ranch while searching for information about the
Limeliters. I knew nothing about Lou Gottlieb's post-Limeliters life,
so naturally I was delighted to find such a wealth of information.
I am particularly glad that you took the time and effort to chronicle this unique period of our country's cultural history. It is a priceless time capsule for those of us who were not free during the 60's, who were too young, too straight, or too unenlightened for the Morningstar lifestyle. Your on-line book brought that era to life for me in a way that no other medium has. I'm especially excited about what such a book will mean to young people for whom the 60's are "ancient history."
While looking for info about Lou, I also came across the New York Times item about Bill Gottlieb's wedding in October 1998. How sweetly ironic that the scion of Morningstar Ranch, whose parents expressed such unconventional views about work, relationships, and child rearing, should graduate from an Ivy League law school, go into the family practice, and marry a fellow lawyer in a conventional Jewish ceremony! I'm sure Lou loved it, too, seeing that everything comes full circle eventually.
Again, I am ever grateful that you have put your history of Morningstar Ranch on-line to help keep the real 60's alive for generations to come. Sincerely,
Bob Zimmerman, 10/16/98: Lou Gottlieb Remembered:
On 10 October, 1998, "The Friends of Lou Gottlieb" remembered their Wonderful
Friend! And shared many stories, each person wanting to hear more of the
wonder of this man.
The "3rd Annual Memorial to Lou Gottlieb" was again a love fest of family and friends sharing a human being so much a part of our lives, some of the best part of our lives. Lou was a humanist who effected many positive changes in our lives, through his Love of People, his immense charm, his inimitable usage of language, his wit and incredible humor, and the elevations of the spirit of each of us.
And his music reflects all of these things, a remarkable enduring record of all of Lou Gottlieb that we can keep forever. Sixteen people participated in the dinner honoring Lou, more than half of them arrived early to congregate at the beautiful 32-acre Morningstar Ranch owned by Lou (and now his family) where everyone told their personal reminiscence of how Lou so many times effected positive influences in their lives! And we all loved hearing these stories, everyone was so respectful of the memory! Truly his spirit was there!
The weather was the most beautiful anyone could remember, the ranch bathed in a golden hue, the redwoods whispering his name! It was very emotional when we closed the dinner and memorial by singing "Happy Birthday" to Lou. It was the only "Thank You" that could be given to our Magnificent Humanitarian.
"Remember Me when the candlelights are gleamin',
Remember Me at the end of a long, long day,
It would be so sweet when all alone I'm dreamin',
Just to know you still Remember me!"
(Chorus of the Limeliter's Song "Remember Me"!)
Dear Lord, Bless Lou Gottlieb, for all he has given!
Tom and Annie Lance, 9/29/98: "Backwash" is a word
that has stayed with me since I found out about the MOST newsletter celebrating
Lou's 75th, and Bill's impending adventure. For those of us who were
not in the eye of the hurricane, it seems a fitting word. A timeline
is not static. Like a fast moving train, you just have to reach out
and grab hold when it passes. Some of you were lucky enough to have driven
the engine, and some of us have had to grab onto the caboose. Whichever
end we boarded on, the ride's been quite a rush.
Pam Hanna (Read) wrote to me once that Lou was anything but guru-like. Well, I'm not sure about that, but it does seem as though he has created a legacy that's still reaching new eyes and ears and minds. I feel lucky to have been able to read the tales of Morning Star, and even luckier to have been able to meet and communicate with some of you. How fitting to celebrate a birthday and a new beginning together!
I've read the following quote on the bottom of Eric Noble's digger webpage many times, and can think of no time more appropriate to repeat it than at this celebration for Lou and Bill. "When comes the time to leave this world someday, what you get to keep is what you gave away." Badaba!
Jill Gover, 12/9/98: It was with great delight
and surprise that I received my latest issue of MOST. How it found
me is amazing because, after all these years, I've finally made my dream
come true and moved to my land on July 1, 1998. I bought this land
in 1981 when I was still living at Wheeler's, and slowly over the years
I've built my "dream house," my "evolving art project" as I call it.
At times I thought I'd never finish this place and move here. It's
such an incredible sense of accomplishment to have pursued this goal for
so long -- 18 years -- and finally see it to fruition.
I read the last issue of MOST and had a wave of nostalgia encompass me. I lived at Wheeler's Ranch half of my adult life. For 14 years, from ages 17 to 31, Wheeler's was the only life I knew. The picture in the newsletter of familiar faces on the Wheeler's truck (circa early 1970's) brought back a flood of memories. How many lifetimes ago was that? It has been almost three decades since I first discovered open land. I never lived at Morningstar, arriving in June 1970 at the tail end of that phenomena, a young idealistic girl looking for utopia. Morningstar had disintegrated by that time into a quagmire of disillusioned addicts and lost souls. I left quickly and landed at Wheeler's, arriving on a warm, sunny day in June just in time for an infamous Wheeler's Ranch "party." Immediately I was embraced by Alicia Bay Laurel, a young girl herself at the time, who opened her home to me my first night on the Ranch. It was 14 years later before I ventured forth into the "real world," leaving behind a lifestyle and identity that defined my existence throughout my 20s. I remember what a scary time of transition that was. Now, 14 years from the day I left Wheeler's, I return to the land once again, this time in Mendocino County. It's not the exactly the same lifestyle -- I have running water and electricity -- nor am I exactly the same person I was in my 20s, but the core essence remains unchanged. I continue the Return, I continue to return to the place of my second birth.
The concept of a MOST newsletter is amusing and intriguing to me. So many people passed through Morningstar and Wheeler's for brief periods of their lives, but they have nothing in common with one another today. Reminiscent of college alumni reunions, I find I have little to say to those who lives have taken such different twists and turns. Yet it's fascinating to read the myriad perspectives of life long ago in the days of "yesteryear." It's equally interesting to hear about people's lives today, even those folks I never knew from Morningstar. When I lived at the Ranch in my youth, I used to think how awful it would be to become an aging hippie. When I saw "old people" (old = 36 years) dressed as hippies, I'd think to myself, "That person looks ridiculous," and vow I'd never be like that. Now in my mid-40s, I laugh to think how I've become the "aging hippie" I vowed I'd never be! So now hippies are grandparents and the children of the Ranch are grown with kids of their own. Time passes on. I reflect on that era of my life with bittersweet memories. I don't have Pollyanna euphoria about the "good ole days," albeit I'm not cynical either. There is a touch of nostalgia present in my musings. I appreciate what the Ranch gave me, and I appreciate Bill (Wheeler) for the extraordinary person he is. But, just like Bill in the White House, he has many character flaws that I recognized even back then when I was a wild and innocent. I never put him on a pedestal, and I never thought Wheeler's was the perfect utopia. Like any other community, it had its moments, both good and bad.
Today I smile that sweet, wise smile of experience when others more naive enthusiastically suggest that we build a community garden as if it had never been done before. When goats became the hot topic of discussion, I had this flashback to the Ranch: a vivid image of Paul's birthday party when John Serrian made an incredible three-tier cake and the goat ate it. We all voted to get rid of the goat! Country living is not always idyllic!
I'm very glad I had those 14 years to grow up on Wheeler's Ranch. I wouldn't change that for the world. I'm also glad that I had 14 years of living in Berkeley to experience an urban environment and all that has to offer. I was able to get my Ph.D. and provide a good education for my adopted daughter. I'm glad I was born in NYC, the theater capital of the world, and I'm grateful to return to a simpler life in a rural area now in middle-age years. What goes around, comes around. It's a precious cycle. I find myself dusting off the old spinning wheel Marianne gave me, unpacking the same canning pot that Janice used when she spilled scalding water on me accidentally, and identifying the herbs growing wild on the land, remembering how David Lee taught me to harvest all the herb tea behind Tommy's house. Andy Moretto is my neighbor now. Twenty-eight years ago we met at Wheeler's Ranch. Lifetime friendships blossomed from the soil of that magical place. I really hate reunions with lots of strangers awkwardly struggling to converse. I resist the nostalgic temptation to "go back." The annual trek to the Land for May Day, however, is a tradition I still follow, and I read MOST from cover to cover, even though I don't know half the people mentioned. I think it's the connection with my youth and the community that cared for me then that I find so important to sustain. So, Ramon, this is my update, my thoughts and reflections, as we approach the new millennium. I hope I see you this year at May Day. Please feel free to print this in your next newsletter and encourage others to respond. Love,
Rena Morningstar, 9/30/98: Dear Ramon, enclosed is a poem my daughter Osheana wrote yesterday. You can publish it if you like in the MOST Newsletter. It seems to apply to all of us MorningStar refugees as well as her personal trials. Love,
Home is not a place where you feel awkward
Not a place where you are given senseless gifts,
and where one isn't free.
Home is a warm feeling that you are loved.
'tis a river flowing,
and a pair of moccasins
that let you run along
with your brother wind,
your feet crunching the moist soil.
What a spirit truly needs
is not gold
it is home.
One without home is incomplete.
To steal home
is the only crime,
it angers spirits of heaven
it angers spirits of Earth
it angers me!
Vivian Gotters, 3/24/99: Greetings to all!
I want to express my deep appreciation for the generous support I've received
as a result of Ramon and Bill's letter on my behalf. Life has become
quite a challenge but I seem to be meeting it O.K. I've finished
the treatment with one drug, and now I'll complete the chemotherapy with
another drug. After that I'll be able to return to a somewhat normal
I feel sorry for my body, it's been through a terrible ordeal, but I believe it will heal quickly when we get the chance. I just finished a five-part course on healing for cancer patients given by the Deepak Chopra Institute in La Jolla called "Return to Wholeness." It teaches one to follow the kind of healing life that we had at Morningstar: a meditative life close to nature, yoga, Ayurvedic diet -- they recommend the cookbook written by a Morningstar person in Santa Fe. (I didn't get her name, but Ramon and Pam know her.)
Meanwhile, I work on the video biography of Johann Sebastian Bach. For those who aren't familiar with my work, Part One of "Johann Sebastian Bach: A New Portrait" is done in rough-cut. It's forty minutes long. It's a very accurate piece of research, therefore a little dull. It was accepted as the Creative Project for my M.A. in English -- multimedia storytelling.
The project was born out of my love for Bach's music -- something Lou and I had in common. At Morningstar, there were occasions when Lou would read some of Bach's letters to us that had been published in the "Bach Reader." Lou's reading made a lasting impression on me, and as I was putting together the pieces of Part Two of the biography I asked Lou to let me record his readings of the letters. He was good enough to do some studio recordings, and I am in the process of incorporating them into the video.
It makes the piece come to life to hear the "voice of Bach." Lou did a wonderful reading. Lou lived long enough to know that the video had been picked up by a distributor and would eventually be published. I'm glad it worked out that way. So now, it's off to work I go! It has to be finished before it can get published.
Again, I thank you all for your love and support. It means a great deal to me. Much love,
Tomas Diaz, 12/20/98: When I first learned about
e-mail, the Internet, and was hooked up at home, I decided to look up old
friends. Laurel was the first to understand the use of search engines
to find people. We started together in our spare time to find old
friends. I was interested in finding Sylvia Williams, Joanie B.,
Ramon Sender, Kathy Sweeney, Kyle Banks, and Ambo. I had saved a
list of people about 15 years ago. The search began by typing "hippies"
or the names of the people we were looking for. The Digger pages was one
of the sites that turned up when I typed in Kathy's name. I also
found two references where someone was looking for her. The two were
Pam Hanna's and Terry Blue's letters on the Digger guest pages. I
posted a notice on these pages trying to find Kathy, and Laurel was interested
in finding Ambo. Laurel continued looking over the Digger pages for
In the meantime, I started writing about my Morningstar remembrances. Laurel said that there was an article about Morningstar and that I was mentioned in it. I later wrote to Terry Blue and asked about finding Kathy since the letter she wrote was dated. She shot back a response thinking that I knew where Kathy was, which I did not. She said that the last time she saw Kathy was with this Indian guy. Our search for Kathy stalled at that point. I sent Terry what I had written about Kathy. And, that is where things stood until our visit to Pam and Findley in December of this year.
Laurel Diaz: "Dear Terry and Corky: We were surprised
and happy that you were able to speak with Raj and Kathy, and we are thrilled
that you will be seeing her again after all these years. When we
were in Nashville last week visiting Pam and Findley, Pam received a phone
call from Al Koewing. While she was on the phone, I asked her to ask him
for any information they had on Kathy and Ambo. They gave us the
addresses and telephone numbers they had. I tried sending an e-mail,
and even called R.E.A.P. for Raj, but this Vietnamese (I think) woman said
he no longer worked there. She wouldn't give me any other information,
so that was the end of that. I tried calling Raj's brother's number, but
got no answer. I gave up at that point, and I'm glad you finally
We would appreciate receiving Kathy and Raj's address, phone number, and e-mail address if you would be so kind to forward it on to us. We have been looking for Kathy for years, and this is really exciting that we are finding a lot of people again. I have an address and telephone number for Ambo in Eugene, OR, but have not had an answer whenever I called. I will keep trying.
Please keep in touch and let us know what's happening. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas. We picked up our son Eli at the airport yesterday and he will be home until 1/3/99. Tomas and I are looking forward to a great time with our kids. It's been a long time since we were all together. Love,
Tomas: Kathy is pictured in the Morningstar Scrapbook.
I will speak in the past tense since I will use my memory to tell you about
Kathy. Kathy was the first person I met as I hopped out of the van
at Morningstar. Kathy had a radiance about her -- her complexion
was bright with sunshine and her cheeks were rosy. Her eyes and teeth
sparkled. Kathy's hair was wild, and her speech was from New York -- her
language was untamed. As I learned about Kathy, I soon discovered
that she had given up all forms of vanity. The hair on her legs was startling
to the eyes of all who thought women did not have hair on their legs.
She was free. She was a woman looking to do her own thing, she was
I soon fell in love with her, but everyone else had done the same, so I was not alone in my pleasure of seeing her and loving her. She was emotionally searching for the Kathy in this world, and she always spoke of finding herself. I saw her inner turmoil, and I saw the struggle. We were both searching. We were demanding attention, we were both searching.
I traveled to New York with Kathy and Ambo, and met her mother. She lived in Manhattan in an apartment house with a doorman. Kathy showed me the Bowery, the Lower East Side, and places she hung out in her youth. We always traveled by subway whenever we went. She took me to see the Paul Butterfield Blues Band at Fillmore East. She also had family that lived in Queens.
We left New York and headed west for Chicago. Kathy, Ambo, and I stayed at Laurel's apartment. In Chicago, Laurel was working and Ambo was trying to get Laurel to drop out and come to Morningstar. Ambo, Laurel, Kathy, and I played in the park on a daily basis. We played on the swings, looked at the lake, played Frisbee, and went to the zoo. We wandered about Chicago having a wonderful time. Laurel's apartment had turned into a small commune.
Laurel: I was living on Belmont Street off Broadway
in Chicago very near Lake Michigan in an older apartment building on the
third floor. The neighborhood was a quiet residential area then (mid-1960s)
that had not yet been invaded by hippies or other types. That all
came later as the bounds of Old Town overflowed North. Kathy and
Ambo arrived at my apartment in the Springtime of 1968 like the breeze
off the lake -- cool and refreshing.
I worked at my PR job during the day and came home to my haven at night to be greeted by my two best friends. I remember Kathy as someone I wanted to be -- free, cool, funny, happy. Ambo was lovely and he wanted me to leave with him to return to Morning Star. I was caught up in the emotions of that time and said yes. I was happy that I had said yes -- the saying of it freed me. After a week or so of having the time of my life, we heard a knock on the door. There stood Tomas in his blanket and Red Ball boots looking as if he had walked halfway across the country, which he did. He had been "delayed" in Pennsylvania and had only just arrived to meet up with his traveling companions. After he arrived, the party really began. We played in the park, we drove everywhere in my 1967 Mustang, we went to Starved Rock for a picnic. We had a ball, we had music, and we had each other. Before we knew it, however, the yes I had given turned into a no and Ambo and Kathy soon packed up their gear and headed out the door. They were going back to Morningstar -- but, without Tomas and me. The odyssey for some became the odyssey for all.
Now, thirty years later, our paths are again convening, this time in a more mature way. Some of us have accomplished many things, some of us have remained the same, and some are gone out of this mortal life forever. Those of us who remain, however, have retained the ideals we had way back when we were young. Our hair may be grey(er), our waistlines may have expanded, but our souls still soar in the face of goodness and joy. We rejoice that we are finding those we cared about so many years ago. We give thanks for the many blessings we have received over the decades. We share this all with you, our friends and loved ones.
Pam Explains Kathy Sweeney
Pam Hanna, 12/22/98: Well, I'll let Tomas or
David or somebody who knew her better talk about Kathy Sweeney. She
was an alumna of the old California M* and went to jail for solidarity's
sake with the rest of us, and I think you'll find her picture in the scrapbook
in several places. It was Al & Jane Koewing who knew to contact
Raj about her. Jane had some old addresses and phone #'s. They
called me after I sent them an Xmas card with questions about the NM M*
-- picking everybody's memory brain. Tomas and Laurel were here when they
called, which is why I thought to ask about Kathy.
Maybe the U.S. government isn't working too well, but our hippy network sure is huh? Badaba to all,
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