"I think it was probably the most excitingplace in the universe," says Richard I. Loebl '67,who moved to the University of California atBerkeley after graduation to study math. Loebl iscurrently a tax attorney in Michigan.
"Virtually everything that happened in thecountry politically or socially started in theBerkeley-San Francisco area," he says. "Then itspread through the country for about the next 10years."
At Berkeley, students had fought for increasedcontrol and social change since the beginning ofthe Free Speech Movement in 1964. In 1967, therallies continued.
"Just about every day on Sproul Plaza therewould be someone sitting there with a bull horn atlunchtime trying to have a rally about this orthat or standing on the steps giving a speech,"says Loebl. "We would sit at lunch, toss a frisbeeand watch."
On the streets, social protest took a lessconfrontational form. Robertson remembers herfirst summer in Berkeley as "a time when peoplewere celebrating," she says. "There werespontaneous concerts. People would get together,play music, dance, hug each other and have awonderful time. There was a lot of sexualfreedom."
On the hazy city streets of the broad parklands, people tried to create a new vision ofsociety, says Robertson, who is currently aSpanish professor at the University of San Diego.
"People felt that there was a lot of love andit should just be handed around," Robertson says."It was the feeling that people were able to helpeach other, that there was enough for everyone andno one had to be grabby or insecure."
For Atkinson, the summer of 1967 was the peakof the '60s: a mix of pop music, political potencyand sheer happiness.
"Our generation was incredibly cohesive," heexplains. "There was this feeling we could doanything. We were flinging ourselves against thewalls, and it gave us this incredible sense ofunity."
Atkinson spent the year after graduationplaying the Boston club scene in his band, TheCredibility Gap. He says that pop music--and thelegends of pop, the Beatles--gave rise to theSummer of Love, which was shaped to form by theyoung people who ventured to California.
Beginning with British bands like the Beatlesand the Byrds, music spread a sense of community,synthesized political anger and caught thecultural currents of a generation.
"That summer was an international experience,"Atkinson says.
"I can still remember exactly who was in theroom the first time I heard Sergeant Pepper's,"says Atkinson, referring to the 1968 Beatles'album. "I thought: `This is amazing.'"
Atkinson remembers that "people reallyresonated" to the song "Day in the Life."
"I heard the news today oh boy'," Atkinson sayssoftly. "Every day you'd pick up the newspaper andyou'd be reading about the war or race riots. JohnLennon has kind of a haunting voice anyway--athin, reedy voice. When you heard that song, itwas like telepathy."
When the class of 1967 left Harvard, the campushad not caught on fully to the wave of drugexperimentation and countercultural statement.
Timothy Leary, the first prophet of LSD, servedon Harvard's faculty before spending full timetrying to convince young people to "turn on" tothe hallucinogen. And the campus had an activecontingent of young radicals.
Despite the slow reaction time of the East,several '67 alums say that the Ivy Leagues werenot far behind Berkeley in living out thecounterculture.
Robertson remembers encountering and oldboyfriend in Berkeley who was "turning on hissecret society at Yale" and distributing LSD onTelegraph Avenue.
"He would hand out LSD and say `Here, have youtried this? Take it, I'll stay with you and seeyou through the trip,'" she explains. "It was likea spiritual religious quest."