I grew up in suburban New England during the 70s. At 10 years old, I watched the 60s transition into 1970 as the youngest of 4 boys. With curious eyes and a sponge-like brain I observed my brothers from the safety of my youth as they tested my parents, enraged their teachers and challenged society just like every other teen in America.
I knew about drugs at an early age watching my older brothers experiment with the vast selection of substances that were available in the 70s.
It wasn’t until an assembly at school when I would discover marijuana would have a special attraction for me.
I was a wide eyed fifth grader when Officer Grassy came to Cole Elementary School to teach us about drugs. On the stage of our gym/auditorium, the Officer opened up a magical trunk filled with mysterious stuff. As he opened it up, I smelled the familiar odor that also lingered on my brothers’ jackets. Inside was a curious collection of confiscated contraptions: hookas, roach clips, bongs, a gas mask with a bowl, even a trumpet converted into a pipe.
I could not keep my eyes off the Officer as he explained how hippies would make “steamboat” pipes out of toilet paper tubes and foil. As he spoke he twirled a beautifully decorated cardboard tube in his hands. He picked up a large bag of marijuana, held it up high with a disgusted look on his face and continued… “Always needing their fix, the crazed hop heads smoke their reefers and then go on crime sprees.”
Hmmmmm. My brothers smoked that stuff all the time and all I ever saw them do is listen to music, eat lots of food and laugh a lot. But more important than that, I never realized there were so many cool toys marijuana smokers got to play with.
I had no desire to get high, having no idea what that even was. I did want to see how that trumpet pipe worked and that gas mask looked like a whole lotta fun.
The next day I had crafted my own “steamboat” toilet tube pipe just like the fine Officer taught me. Hiding in the woods behind my parents house, a friend and I smoked random dried leaves until we were dizzy. We pretended we were hippies as we coughed ourselves red faced and wiped smoke induced tears from our eyes.
Clearly, smoking “weed” was the coolest thing EVER!