In 1983, we came out of the closet. Many of us who thought of ourselves as new-agers stopped “hiding our light under a bushel” and became more vocal about our beliefs. We stopped caring so much about being socially acceptable and started speaking out more about the issues close to our hearts. Many of us traveled spiritual paths that were still considered a little left of center and we stopped pretending. It was time to get real.
New age papers validated our growing awareness that it was indeed the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Our numbers swelled and we began to impact the local economy with our holistic businesses and our checkbooks.
I could write a book on 1983 alone but I won't. I'll give you the highlights here and go into more detail in another blog. Papers popped up everywhere, and not just in Gainesville.
Paul Hoffman’s The Last New Age Calendar appeared in stores in September, 1983. A month later the Gainesville Daily Planet entered the scene with LIBRE’s Dottie Zavada as “Publisher and Grand Sorceress.” Istvan compiled the local calendar, while Lee Glancey and Sharon Woodruff did the word processing. Oma, an entity channeled by Frankie Z. Avery, was the token non-human on the staff.
In May, 1983, while working as the office manager of a mainstream church, I launched a quarterly called New Age Gainesville, with the help of my husband, Gordon Greenwood, Dottie Zavada, Richard Greenwood, Lonnie Lockett, Ronni Gardner, and Mary Masidonski.
Michele Rippey wrote about “The Celebration”-- the first-ever event of its kind held in the downtown community plaza. Walter Busby and friends organized the day filled with love and light, laughter and letting go. It was highlighted by the absence of anything to buy. In another blog, I've posted Michele's article with all the details of that special day.
New ads appeared: Reiki by Andy Weisberg, Soul Therapy by Alma Rose, Massage Therapy by Fay Young, Jere Herrington, and Olivia Stryker, and Peter Bensen’s Guild for Structural Psychosynthesis. We shopped for natural fibre clothes at Harmony and Lotus, and Spirit, and ate at New Harvest.
We had an abundance of groups to explore, including the A.R.E. Study Group focusing on Edgar Cayce’s teachings (Bob Scott), P’nai Or (Kabbalistic mystical tradition), Gurdjieff Reading Group (Brian Morgan), Humanist Society (Joe Courter, Iguana editor), ISKCON (Krishna Consciousness), and Kundalini Yoga (Sat Nam Singh Khalsa).
There was our long-lasting Seth Group at Royane and Ric Mosley's home, The Next Step (in Micanopy with Dr. David Saltzman), Science of Mind Study Group in Lake Butler (Vicky Woods), Self-Realization Fellowship (Paramahansa Yogananda teachings-Pam DeWitt), Sai Baba Satsang (Mike and Lee Glancey), and Yoga Center of Gainesville (Yogi Amrit Desai teachings).
We had the School of Tai Chi Chuan, Tai Chi Chuan for Women at Dragon Gate Studio, and Tai Chi Chuan Temple Style at LIBRE Center.
We often met friends at a wonderful restaurant on SW 35th Boulevard in Butler Plaza called Cathay Tea House which was opened in 1976 by Genia Lee (Hines), who was born and raised in Taiwan. The food was exquisite and it was the only Chinese restaurant where we could get brown rice at the time. Genia's dream of publishing her own cookbook was realized in the 1980s with the release of "The Cuisine of Cathay."
That reminded me of another old Gainesville restaurant, the Beef and Bottle at 5220 SW 13 Street, close to the northern border of Paines Prairie. It was a 520-seat restaurant with the first mega salad bar. It was popular for its live entertainment. It will be forever etched in my mind as the place where we saw a "new" entertainer for the first time who did this stand-up arrow-through-the-head routine--yup, the unknown was a very young and playful Steve Martin. One night he invited around 50 people from the audience to hide behind bushes on U.S. 441 while Steve hitchhiked at closing time. Every time a car stopped, the 50+ people jumped out and rushed the car. I guess you had to be there. I wasn't, but everyone at work was talking about it the next day.
The Beef and Bottle became the Brown Derby in 1977. It lasted until 1994 when it could no longer compete with the restaurants popping up all along Archer Road.
Please forgive me if I left you out. I didn’t even get to ask you if you were in the audience when they performed Hair: An American Tribal Love Rock Musical here. When was that trip back in time to the idealistic, psychedelic days of the 1960s anyway?