High Half-A-Century — 50th Anniversary Of First Getting Stoned

May 15, 2024

Today 50 years ago was also a Wednesday.

In those days I was a senior at the University of Florida and was less than a month away from graduating. Although I had the GI Bill for financial assistance, during the last two years of college I worked part-time at the Sears, Roebuck store there in Gainesville, Florida, in the Receiving Department, i.e., on the back dock, unloading delivery trucks, and pricing merchandise. It was a fun experience and kept me afloat money-wise.
Of course, also in those days, Sears was a top-tier department store with a then-massive chain across North America — now down to 13 or so in seven states (the most, four, here in California). In the mid-1970s, however, still the retail-destination rage, from clothes to washers/dryers.

Anyhow, on this particular day, May 15, 1974, three/four co-workers from off the back dock (plus one former co-worker then in accounting) and I met at a colleague’s apartment after we’d clocked out to smoke pot. They all knew I had never smoked before and they were kind of excited to see how I would react, and how the incident would play out in the scheme of things. Via good-feeling nostalgic memories, those co-workers were nice, well-meaning folks, all young — late teens early/mid 20s —  sweet and intelligent, and funny. Some were students like myself, and others were just local guys earning a buck or two. One positive item was this after-work smoke became a near-about regular event for a few months.
And ‘on this particular day,’ we smoked from this guy’s water bong. I got stoned as shit. And loved it. Despite not understanding at all the actual sense of what was happening to me at the time, I do recollect (as a 75-year-old brain’s memory cells can) enjoying that wisp of a beginning in that knowledge/feeling this episode carried some heavy, mysterious, absolute change-of-pace ambiance. Life in my own personal universe shifted, low and high. And have been smoking ever since — no longer a water bong (or any bong), nowadays a small wooden, one-hit pipe — an occasional joint for a change-up, but mostly the pipe.

Later that self-same day, back in my apartment, I came straight on, head-to-stomach with a certain reefer madness no one had told me about — the ‘munchies.’
Beginning with a couple of ham sandwiches and chips from my own kitchen, I munched the fuck out of some food. Since an In-n-Out burger joint was just down the street, a fat-ass cheeseburger, a large fish sandwich, an ultimate order of fries, including a large soft drink (a Coke probably) were quickly acquired — and mostly consumed. I was half-way through the fish sandwhich when my stomach wanted to explode. My belly ached and felt hardcore tight as a drum. I don’t remember getting sick of anything, just feeling like you wanted to be sick, and very heavy.
I told co-workers about it the next day and they all laughed their asses off, even smiling (or laughing) at me everytime they’d see me during the shift — I eventually joined in, laughing, too.

Part of the plan.

How does one remember the date of a thingie 50 years ago, despite its importance? Especially after getting stoned out of your gourd. Maybe due to this happening that same day (Wikipedia): ‘The Ma’alot massacre was a Palestinian terrorist attack that occurred on 14–15 May 1974 and involved the hostage-taking of 115 Israelis, chiefly school children, which ended in the murder of 25 hostages and six other civilians.

I didn’t develop the ‘munchies‘ that quickly, I listened to music (had an old Sears stereo roundtable with speakers), and watched TV, especially the news, being a journalism school near-graduate — Roger Mudd, substituting for Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News broadcast, reported on the massacre. The segment knocked the enjoyment out of my ass. I remember being so overwhelmed with the news of the attack, I thought the whole fucking world was coming quickly to an end. Yet, not too long afterward, came my first ham sandwich.
And somehow today’s historical data have been welded into my personal-history info.

A couple of weeks later back in 1974, I was asked by a co-worker if my life had changed any. I told him I didn’t think so, but he nodded at me with a smile.
A whole lot of shit had changed and had changed quickly, especially with music. Practically overnight I went from AM rock to FM rock.
An early consequence, Mott the Hoople, and “Sweet Jane,” off one of the great-discovery albums of the summer of 1974 (though actually released two years earlier):

Just one song/album among a shitload of new music (for me) introduced that summer and since then. Of course, pot has changed. Not only in its plant dynamic but also in the eyes of the general public. And if you like, a remembrance of this day at 40 years can be found here.

Bong hits, or not, yet once again here we are…

Toker TV(Illustration out front created by Dennis Marsili, and found here.)

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