In a 1967 interview, Arnold Toynbee, who had visited the ‘scene’’ at Haight-Ashbury, was quoted as saying, ‘the hippies are a warning light for the American way of life.’ Even then, his words jumped out at me. Only an historian possessed of insight and power could extract such a convincing perspective from a phenomenon that was still unfolding. I was nineteen years old, and Toynbee’s conclusion seemed irrefutable. Visionary, even.
‘Warning light.’ Not a revolution, as we each - my friends and I - had claimed. Not something shattering. Simply a warning light.
With the great historian’s authorized perspective, I plunged head first into what would be an extraordinary phase in my life.