Huerfano:A Memoir Life In Counterculture

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"In the late 1960s, New Age communes began springing up in the American Southwest with names like Drop City, New Buffalo, Lama Foundation, Morning Star, Reality Construction Company, and the Hog Farm. In the summer of 1969, Roberta Price, a recent college graduate, secured a grant to visit these communities and photograph them. When she and her partner David arrived at Libre in the Huerfano Valley of southern Colorado, they were so taken with what they found that they wanted to participate instead of observe. The following spring they married,
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Overview

"In the late 1960s, New Age communes began springing up in the American Southwest with names like Drop City, New Buffalo, Lama Foundation, Morning Star, Reality Construction Company, and the Hog Farm. In the summer of 1969, Roberta Price, a recent college graduate, secured a grant to visit these communities and photograph them. When she and her partner David arrived at Libre in the Huerfano Valley of southern Colorado, they were so taken with what they found that they wanted to participate instead of observe. The following spring they married, dropped out of graduate school in upstate New York, packed their belongings into a 1947 Chrysler Windsor Coupe, and moved to Libre, leaving family and academia behind." "Huerfano is Price's memoir of the seven years she spent in the Huerfano ("Orphan") Valley when it was a petrie dish of countercultural experiments. She and David joined with fellow baby boomers in learning to mix cement, strip logs, weave rugs, tan leather, grow marijuana, build houses, fix cars, give birth, and make cheese, beer, and furniture as well as poetry, art, music, and love. They built a house around a boulder high on a ridge overlooking the valley and made ends meet any way they could, growing their own food, selling homemade goods, and hiring themselves out as day laborers. Over time their collective ranks swelled to more than three hundred, only to diminish again as, for many participants, the dream of a life of unbridled possibility gradually yielded to the hard realities of a life of voluntary poverty." Price tells her story with a clear, distinctive voice, documenting her experiences with photos as well as words. Placing her story in the larger context of the times, she describes her participation in the antiwar movement, the advent of the women's movement, and her encounters with such icons as Ken Kesey, Gary Snyder, Abbie Hoffman, Stewart Brand, Allen Ginsburg, and Baba Ram Dass.
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Editorial Reviews

Western American Literature
Price admits that [her story] is 'a true account, but not always literal'(353). Incidents and characters are blended, conversations are re-invented; pan shots give a sense of simultaneous activities in the Huerfano Valley; cuts to the outside political and cultural world provide contrast.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558494695
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 11/23/2004
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.94 (w) x 8.88 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2004

    'The Excitement of Reading Huerfano'

    From my perspective as a currently middle-aged member of the California Bar, the best aspects of Huerfano are the extremely vivid depictions of the early 1970's life experience, coupled with a very steady [but inconspicuous] editorial hand that keeps the narrative flowing. It flows both chronologically as far as the author's involvement in the back to the land experience, and substantively as far as calling up the most important issues like self-imposed material deprivation; the joys of natural surroundings; the ups and downs of cooperative living; bending the boundaries of family and friends. The illustrations are enjoyable, but the quality of writing is what really distinguishes this book. The author is very clear and direct about identifying the sometimes awkward and unprecedented choices she faced, and writes in a manner that invites the reader to empathize with the choices. I really recommend this book for anyone who once had and/or still has a curiosity about stepping off the beaten track.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2005

    A Memoir of a Memoir

    The war is grinding to a stand-off, the country is polarized, the caskets of young men are lining up in neat rows at Andrews Air Force Base, many of the young are apathetic. The year is 2005. Guess again, it's 1970 when two eastern establishment college kids gain post graduate grants to study the Hippys and to their surprise are soon building a house on a commune. Libre `The Last Resort¿ where the members have eschewed connivance shopping, credit, insurance and central heating for a life of peace and `voluntary poverty¿ high in the mountains of southern Colorado. Roberta Price has woven a true tale in excellent and lucid prose. The statement `if you remember the sixty's you weren't there¿ does not apply here. She remembers it well. At the start I was not going to mention the fact that I was a member of that commune, however in the end I must, in order to put my stamp of approval on the authenticity of the book. She has a terrific memory of the love, the hate, the life, the death, the work, and the beauty of life in the counterculture. In an age when college kids are more preoccupied with their YK-2 status than their F-4 (draft) status, the book is a refreshing peek into the past. If you are an old Hippy I defy you to keep the pages of this volume un-tear stained.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2005

    The Sixties Distilled

    For those of us especially who lived through the era, but may not have had been daring enough to try commune living, Huerfano is a fascinating evocation of a particular time and place. The author places her adventures,appropriately, in the broader context of the times where 'the personal is political' was more than just a slogan. It's clear-eyed about the times, painting the era warts and all, but emphasizes the idealism that underlaid the hippie lifestyle. Filled with vibrant portraits of personalities and places, Huerfano is a beautifully written page turner. You really care about these people and what happens to them - and what this social and artistic experiment in rural Colorado means for us in the here and now.

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