Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

My youth was the post-hippie era. I like to think I spent my youth as what I refer to as a fringe hippie. The culture was definitely changing when I left high school in the early 70s to make my way in the world.

Bell bottoms were still in style as were peasant blouses. My hair was long and straight, parted in the middle, often clipped to keep my hair out of my face. It was medium brown in color, a far cry from current white mane. Paisley prints were starting to drift out of style.

Album covers were less psychedelic/flower child and more artist-centric. There seemed to be less emphasis on psychedelic drugs but marijuana was still extremely prevalent and so were the head-shops.

What’s a head-shop, you say? Well, the answer might be very different coming from someone else. I never experimented with drugs. I never smoked pot, although many people around me did. It always made me uncomfortable and went against all that I had been raised to believe. Somehow, I managed to navigate the times without it. But back to head-shops.

Head-shops sold drug paraphernalia of course. They were central to the holdover from the counter culture of the 60s. I loved walking into a good head shop. It was like entering an entirely different world.

Lighting was purposely dim, with black-lights illuminating the space, allowing ‘velvet posters’ printed with fluorescent inks to take on a life of their own. If your clothing had any white in the fabric, the black lights would illuminate the white. The woody scent of incense would permeate your hair, clothes, and nose.

Here you could buy black light bulbs, posters, incense burners and incense, bongs, books, perfume, oils, lava lamps, strobe lights, and of course all things pot-related. I am sure you could buy things I was much too naive to realize.

My Air Force dorm room was filled with purchases from local head-shops. I had a huge brandy glass shaped terrarium, blacklight posters and of course black lights to illuminate them. I had carved soapstone trinket boxes, a lava lamp and incense wafted through the air.

My chosen fragrance was musk oil. I am trying to remember the scent that was once the only fragrance I wore, but it escapes me now. But somehow I still remember the dancing Snoopy “Feeling Groovy” poster that hung on my door. Funny how our memory works.


42 thoughts on “Head-Shops”

  1. Although I did experiment with almost-all available drugs, I was the complete opposite of a hippie. Short hair, smart suits, shiny shoes, and no facial hair, ever. That said, one of my best friends had hair so long he could sit on it, and a furry beard too. 🙂
    I was very much the ‘straight’ in my circle of friends.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We all experienced the times differently. I feel I am very removed from the current choices young people face. Our times were changing fast.

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  2. As a teen, they were exciting places to visit. I remember purchasing all my heavy metal band t-shirts and flags when one of us was able to borrow a parent’s car so we could drive to the big city.

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  3. I remember that poster 🙂

    My friends and I would often visit head shops near the University of Pittsburgh. Many of them also sold albums – 3 for $10. I think I can still smell the incense.

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    1. I found several images of the poster Dan, but no image I felt I could legally share. Now that you mention it, some of the larger towns did have albums for sale. I even bought a dress at one once upon a time (my daughter still has it I think).

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      1. I know I knew that I meant although I loved the paraphernalia I could not afford it …sorry I was not able to buy posters and candles but I lived jos sticks. 💜💜

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  4. I was in Haight-Ashbury in the summer of 1967(if you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair) and as a non druggie surrounded by druggies it was certainly a memorable visit!

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  5. Patchouli. That’s my guess for the fragrance you’re trying to think of. I haven’t done drugs since becoming a substance abuse counselor after college, but I can get a natural high from candlelight, wavy light, or Christmas lights. Remember seeing lint on our skin in black lights? I still love the hippie decor and music and have been described as dressing like a hippie chick, still. Peasant blouses are back in style! Guess I’m just and old hippie without the drugs.

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    1. I could rock a peasant blouse with this long grey hair! It was such a time of making statements! A huge part of me was born in that era.

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  6. We still have head shops out our way. The one I visited (without partaking) is The Black in Ocean Beach, during my college days. They’re still up and running.
    If you wish to partake, now we have a ton of dispensaries which will sell you various versions of the “aromatic herb that is not sage,” for both medicinal and recreational purposes. CBD oil is what husband gets to keep his polyps away and his digestive system reasonably healthy.

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    1. With legalization, the stigma has been lessened I think, although not legal everywhere. Add to that the medicinal benefits of CBD, it is hard to find fault. Lots of triggers there for me, though. I always loved the shops back in the day. There is no denying that!


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