San Diego’s downtown was pretty seedy in 1967-1968. There was a little plaza on Broadway, the main thoroughfare of downtown San Diego, Behind this plaza were multiple, twenty-four hour adult movie theaters and arcades where the sailors on shore leave could hang out. I met some interesting people in that plaza. I remember one guy that had this huge growth on his neck. I have no idea what it was but when I say huge, I mean that it was hanging down from the back of his neck for about ten inches. A ten inch sebateous cyst? Who knows? He never said what it was and I never asked.
I know that I was in my mom and George’s house on Lantana when I contacted the Oracle offices in San Francisco and convinced them to send me some Oracles to San Diego. I don’t think they even required that I send them money in advance. There was a level of trust in the hippie community and I think they just trusted me to pay for them after I had sold them.
One night, 7/21/1969 to be exact, while I was selling the Oracle, a couple of sailors came over and struck up a conversation. One of them wanted to buy a “lid” or small baggy of marijuana from the other one but the one that wanted to buy it said that he wasn’t sure what marijuana looked like and he appealed to my vanity and said that he thought I would know if it was “good stuff.” Well whether or not I really would know one way or the other, I liked the fact that he thought I would know, so I agreed to go with them while they made their deal.
We crossed the plaza, away from Broadway and toward a side street. As we crossed in the crosswalk another man of about the same age as the sailor, nodded to one of the two I was with. The three of us walked into a hotel lobby about a block away from the plaza and proceeded to walk to the men’s bathroom off the lobby. When the three of us got inside the small bathroom, the guy that was selling the pot took it out of his pocket in a sandwich baggy and gave it to me to look at. In those days, that amount of marijuana was called a “lid,” which is approximately one ounce. That could go for about ten bucks.
I went into one of the stalls. Outside the stall I could hear someone else coming into the bathroom. I started to open the stall door and saw someone wearing a suit, addressing one of the sailors. I put the pot into my right coat pocket and came out of the stall. I probably should have just flushed it but that didn’t even occur to me since the weed was not mine.
I came out of the stall and was confronted with an “undercover” policeman. In the bathroom, he checked several of my pockets, but for some reason, overlooked the right coat pocket where I had put the bag of pot. There were two police officers and it seems like one of the sailors had disappeared and my conclusion was that he was also an undercover officer and that this was an attempt at entrapment. One of the officers suggested we leave the hotel and continue our conversation out on the street. The sailer and the two officers exited the bathroom and luckily they all walked out ahead of me!!! As I exited the bathroom, I reached into my coat pocket and quickly grabbed the baggy and dropped it as I went through the door, leaving it on the floor in the bathroom. When we got outside, the officers searched me again and seemed perplexed that they did not find anything and they had to release me.
I walked back over to Broadway where I had been selling papers but I just wanted to get out of there and started heading toward home but as I was leaving the plaza, a police car pulled up and the officers got out and told me I was under arrest. Apparently they had gone back into the bathroom and had found the marijuana on the floor and thought that maybe they could still make a case.
I got to make my phone call and I called my mom and later, I learned that she had called my uncle Pete and he recommended a lawyer in San Diego or recommended that my mom get me a lawyer. The lawyer came in the early morning hours and I told him what had happened. I was pretty frightened but was pretty sure that there was no real case against me and by morning I was released and was told that this “arrest” would be removed from my record.
I had been in juvenile hall a couple of times previously in San Diego. Once for curfew and once for hitchhiking on a freeway on-ramp. I had been in a jail in Moscow, Idaho, when I was thirteen or so, when my cousin Mary Griffin and I hitchhiked from Palouse to Moscow and the police picked us up. I don’t think they had a juvenile hall in Moscow so they just put us in jail. So this was actually my second time “behind bars.” The first time in Moscow, it had almost been fun because I was there with Mary and we were singing Sonny and Cher songs. There was no singing in San Diego’s jail. It seems like I might have had a black cellmate but I am not really sure now. If I did, I don’t remember any conversation but I was just there in the night until after breakfast which consisted of some Elmer’s glue like oatmeal mush.
My biggest problem at that time in my life would have been having to pee. There is no way that I would have felt comfortable urinating in a jail cell. I would probably hold my urine until my bladder would burst and I would just die on the floor.