Lee McKenzie is joining us today with a blast from the past! To celebrate her new release, she's giving away a copy of FIREFIGHTER DADDY and a rockin’ pair of peace sign earrings to one lucky commenter. [Winner announced on Friday 16th.]
I love the city of San Francisco and when I decided to set a couple of books there, the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood was an immediate choice for the setting of the first book. I was intrigued by the William R. DeAvila Elementary School located just a few short blocks from that world-famous intersection, and wondered what it would have been like to raise a family in that neighbourhood “back in the day.” Firefighter Daddy was born out of that question.
The school has served several purposes in recent years, including a satellite campus for a community college. I took the liberty of reinventing it as the neighborhood’s public elementary school, although in the book it doesn’t have a name.
Firefighter Daddy is a contemporary story and while I didn’t want to make my hero’s and heroine’s parents come across as clichéd, I wanted to explore their hippie roots.
I started by investing in a copy of The Hippie Dictionary: A Cultural Encyclopdia of the 1960s and 1970s by John Bassett McCleary...
...and indulged in a trip down memory lane. For sure my book needed a hippie van...
...and references to flower children and 1967, the epic Summer of Love.
And although I couldn’t justify dressing one of my characters in hippie garb, I couldn’t help remembering the crazy clothes we wore in the late sixties.
Remember bell bottoms? Mine were hip-huggers worn with a macrame belt I’d made from jute and wooden beads, strung through the belt loops and tied at one hip with the ends dangling almost to the knee.
T-shirts were tie-dyed and bandanas were worn as halter tops. Hemlines oscillated between granny skirts and short, short minis. Jean skirts were fashioned by picking apart the inseam of an old pair of blue jeans, inserting wedges of fabric, and adorning the finished product with appliqués and embroidery.
It was the era of sit-ins and love-ins and outdoor rock concerts. We made peace signs into jewelry, wore flowers in our hair, and everything was groovy.
Scott McKenzie (no relation) summarized it best, and I’ll leave you with his iconic “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”—the song that became an anthem for a whole generation.
Favorite memories of the sixties? Not-so-favorite memories?! I’d love to hear them!
Lee McKenzie lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. FIREFIGHTER DADDY is in bookstores now and her second San Francisco-set book, THE WEDDING BARGAIN, will be out in January 2011. You’ll find Lee at http:///www.leemckenzie.com.