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Hippie Hollow, 1960s and 70s

 

DIGGING OUR ROOTS: Notes on Glen Ellen History

By The Glen Ellen Historical Society

In the 1960s and 70s, there was an area up Warm Springs Rd., on the curve before the flashing yellow light, that came to be known as “Hippie Hollow.” It was a collection of tumble-down summer cottages rented out at the time by “Chef ” Jack Cardini, part of the old Londonside Resort on the banks of Sonoma Creek.

Warm Springs Rd. was a peaceful road with five or six cars an hour passing by. Jack Cardini was a big, friendly guy with a handlebar moustache who rented out the cabins to free-wheeling young people, some for $35/month.

The ramshackle houses became a community of creative people — artists, musicians, sculptors, jewelers, poets, anti-war activists — and Londonside Lodge, to which they were connected, became something of a hang-out. It was a “pretty tight family” around the cabins; “No rules, no worries, no problems” was an informal motto.

Londonside itself, whose slogan was “Always a Friendly Welcome,” was an aging “dining and dancing establishment” that had offered “swimming, cabins, picnic grounds, drinks and dancing” in its day. The main building had the look of an old hunting lodge, with knotty pine interiors, large windows overlooking the creek, a piano, and stuffed animal heads on the walls. Good Mexican food was prepared there by kind and colorful Rita Booth. Her partner, Jerry Fortner, tended bar. Jerry would put a jar on the bar and tell customers to put their money in and make their own change. Hippies and bikers alike enjoyed the roughand- tumble atmosphere. Jeff Falconer remembers joining a friendly biker drinking beer out of his boot.

Music was big in Hippie Hollow. At Londonside, one could hear Kate Wolf ’s folky sound, early Hot Tuna, Cleveland Wrecking Company, Tommy Thomson’s early style, Hugh Shacklett, and other local bands. Spontaneous jam sessions were common in the cottages, and Quicksilver Messenger Service or Janis Joplin sang out on expensive HiFis from the tiny cabins.

There was a microphone under the floorboards of the ladies’ room at Londonside that could be turned on by the prankster bartender when a woman went to the john, causing hilarity. By the 1960s, Londonside was getting worn out from its “summer resort” days, but still had a loose, fun feeling. Many living in 2021 remember “wild nights” at Londonside.

Tommy Thomson lived in Hippie Hollow for a while and remembers nights sleeping on the pool table before getting famous on the country-western circuit; he is now in the Country Music Hall of Fame. When Timothy Dixon lived there, he had a woodshed that resembled an artistic sculpture made from scrap lumber and other repurposed materials. Now he’s a famous artist in Napa.

According to Gregg Montgomery, “There was something special about Hippie Hollow in the 60s. It was one of those moments in time of innocence and excitement with few boundaries and a community based in camaraderie and good will and good times.”

Over the years, as the cabins began to be inhabited less by tranquil types, and more by folks with drug hobbies, Hippie Hollow dwindled out. Londonside burned down in 1971. Chef Cardini died several years later after having a stroke.

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