We couldn’t get out of Williamsport fast enough, would be the best way to put it. We received word; FINALLY, that hous­ing became avail­able in Philly. We moved down to the Philadel­phia Naval Base when my Dad was trans­ferred there in June 1967.

It was the sum­mer of Love. While 100,000 hip­pies gath­ered in Haight-Ash­bury and the Cul­tur­al Rev­o­lu­tion bloomed simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in the big Amer­i­can cities and across Europe, we reunit­ed as a full fam­i­ly unit again. Our new abode was in a tidy bug and rat- free white mul­ti­ple-unit bar­racks on, I think, Intre­pid Ave. We shared the block-long build­ing and a mas­sive screened in porch with four oth­er fam­i­lies.

Our first floor home had enam­el grey paint­ed cement floors with four bed­rooms, a spa­cious liv­ing room, a din­ing room, kitchen and a laun­dry room. There were a cou­ple months to kill before school start­ed and we knew absolute­ly no one. That was par for the course for us. There were oth­er kids on the base, just a hand full. Most of them were Navy kids; a few were Marine Corps off­spring. Some lived in much nicer places depend­ing on the rank of their fathers. Thank­ful­ly, none of us had to salute or were con­cerned with issues of pro­to­col.

Joe and I trolled the streets under the con­stant sur­veil­lance of Navy Police and wary moth­ers. Our ini­tial recon­nais­sance was on foot but I car­ried out some fleet­ing explo­ration on my dust­ed-off pur­ple Schwinn Sting Ray steed. It had been in stor­age for six months and was rar­ing to go. The Philadel­phia Naval Base, at the time, was a func­tion­al ship­yard and dry dock. It also moored a col­lec­tion of decom­mis­sioned naval ves­sels includ­ing bat­tle­ships, frigates and an occa­sion­al air­craft car­ri­er.

Locat­ed at the end of south Broad Street at the con­flu­ence of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, the seg­re­gat­ed 1200 acres accom­mo­dat­ed huge ware­hous­es, office build­ings, bar­racks and the col­lege-like cam­pus of the Marine Corps. Tow­er­ing cranes and rows of gigan­tic grey ships lined the Reserve Basin docks where my dad had an office in a ship there. There was also an aban­doned air­field and a base­ball field on the north side. It had its own ameni­ties like a com­mis­sary, cafe­te­ria, the­ater, bowl­ing alley and its own fer­ry for the Jer­sey work­ers’ com­mute across the Delaware. No moun­tains or woods there, but plen­ty to explore.

Get­ting inte­grat­ed into that com­mu­ni­ty as a fam­i­ly was a grad­ual thing and helped along by our involve­ment in the church, scouts and school. One thing my sis­ter, Karen, and I had in com­mon was our love of music. The music at that time was great, maybe the great­est. That month the Bea­t­les released “Sgt. Pep­per’s Lone­ly Hearts Club Band” A crit­ic from the Lon­don Times called it “a deci­sive moment in the his­to­ry of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion.” The Bea­t­les were no longer per­form­ers; they were tired of the hys­te­ria and tour­ing.  They were artists now. I couldn’t afford the album right then and was con­tent to lis­ten to the songs on the radio.  It was a trip.  But a cre­ative one. Any drug ref­er­ences like LSD: “Lucy in the Sky with Dia­monds” was way above my head.

No offi­cial sin­gles were released from the album, although “Pen­ny Lane” and “Straw­ber­ry Fields For­ev­er” were released as dou­ble-sided sin­gles in Feb­ru­ary that year for an upcom­ing the­mat­ic album based on their child­hoods. The Sgt. Pep­per alter ego band theme took the album in anoth­er direc­tion, but pro­duc­er, George Mar­tin, lat­er admit­ted regret for not includ­ing them in the album. Those songs appeared on “Mag­i­cal Mys­tery Tour” released six months lat­er.

Every­thing was on AM radio, which was dom­i­nat­ed by sin­gles, so hear­ing all of Sgt. Pep­per all sum­mer was an anom­aly.  I had a tran­sis­tor radio with a black leather case I car­ried around, always con­nect­ed to the sound. At home, we had a con­sole stereo that played records and had a built in radio. We searched the dial look­ing for songs. When I went to the local cafe­te­ria, the juke­box was always on. I recall real­ly lik­ing two songs I heard there for the first time: “Incense and Pep­per­mints” by Straw­ber­ry Alarm Clock and “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” by Pro­col Harum.

My sis­ter Karen fell in love with the song, “Light my Fire” by the Doors. Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, a radio sta­tion in Philadel­phia had a call in con­test for free tick­ets to see The Doors. My sister’s call got through and she answered a lame brain ques­tion and won tick­ets to the con­cert. I spoke to Karen about this expe­ri­ence this past year and she described to a T what Mor­ri­son wore that night and recalled the Nazz as the open­ing act. I recent­ly sent her Googled pho­tos I found of that con­cert after care­ful­ly search­ing the audi­ence for her face. She was some­where in the throng and had a good view of the leather-clad poet. I found out this was a rebound con­cert for Mor­ri­son.

Two nights before, Jim was dis­grun­tled after the Doors were appar­ent­ly snubbed for the Mon­terey Pop Fes­ti­val that week­end.  Actu­al­ly the pro­mot­ers for­got to invite them.” Before a per­for­mance at The Action House in Long Beach, New York, Mor­ri­son has the bar­tender there line up 15 shots of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey and downs them one by one. As the show con­tin­ued, so did the drink­ing. After report­ed­ly fin­ish­ing off 15 more shots he was so drunk he passed out then began to dis­robe. The next night, same stage, he was still hung over.

Mor­ri­son bel­liger­ent­ly makes hor­ri­ble sus­tained groan­ing sounds into his micro­phone until his band mates drag him off. It was their short­est appear­ance ever. Their con­cert in Philly was the next day, Sun­day, June 18, at 7:30 at The Town Hall. Karen con­vinced Dad that she was meet­ing friends there and would be get­ting a ride home with them after­wards. While she wait­ed for the lights to go on she couldn’t help but stare at a boy in the bleach­ers with the most beau­ti­ful eyes she had ever seen. He was with a col­or­ful­ly clad old­er woman, old enough to be his moth­er. Which was a fact.

Karen met the boy a year lat­er in New Jer­sey when she saw him per­form­ing at a local con­cert there. The Nazz, with Todd Rud­gren, was the open­ing act. It was their first pub­lic appear­ance, although they didn’t get cred­it on the poster for the con­cert.  Karen had nev­er been to a rock con­cert and described it like this: “When the Doors came on stage the crowd got very excit­ed. Jim Mor­ri­son was wear­ing tight leather pants and of course, was very hand­some. He had this sex­u­al mag­net­ism about him. He took off his shirt and women were throw­ing flow­ers and notes on the stage! I think some­one may have even thrown a pair of under­wear, but can’t be cer­tain. The music was so great and it was just a total­ly new and won­der­ful expe­ri­ence for me.”

The Doors closed the Philly show with an amaz­ing per­for­mance of  “The End.” It was grand and would have fit right in at the Mon­terey Pop Fes­ti­val. In Frisco, The Who fin­ished their set with “My Gen­er­a­tion.” With chaot­ic panache, Pete Townsend smashed his gui­tar as smoke bombs explod­ed behind him. In the unex­pect­ed pan­de­mo­ni­um, drum­mer Kei­th Moon kicked over his drums as they walked off stage. The Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence fol­lowed The Who and at the end of their last song, “Wild Thing,” Jimi kneeled and lit up his gui­tar in sac­ri­fi­cial fire then smashed it to bits.  Jan­ice Joplin sang an incen­di­ary ver­sion of “Ball and Chain.” For each of them it was their first nation­al venue and estab­lished their leg­endary sta­tus as cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­na.