”Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven!”
It was 50 years ago that Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters made their famous cross-country journey from Kesey’s ranch in La Honda, California, to New York, dispensing joy and LSD to anyone they met along the way. (Acid was legal in the United States until 1966). They made the trip in a psychedelically painted bus named “Furthur”.
The Beatles had arrived in the US a few months earlier, Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted Men mural proved too edgy for New York World’s Fair officials, who covered it with silver paint, and Bob Dylan released The Times They Are a-Changin’. The possibilities seemed limitless.
It didn’t end well.
After an arrest for marijuana possession the next year, Kesey faked his own suicide and hid out in Mexico for eight months, then returned to the States and served a five month sentence in a county jail. After that, he moved back to the family farm in Oregon, where he spent the rest of his life. There were apparently several “descendents” of the magic bus, but the original Furthur eventually wound up in a swamp on the farm.