THE LAND


Memoirs of Dan Lynch


Los Altos in 1964 was a wonderful little town surrounded
by apricot orchards for miles. My brother and I had
paper routes and rose at 4AM. After delivering our
papers on our bikes, we came home, changed clothes for
our altar boy duties and, short cutting through the
orchards, bicycled to Saint Williams Church. As we rode
through the fresh morning air, the rising sun burning
off the valley’s fog would make the steeply sloped hills
leading up to Montebello Ridge, come alive with vivid
shades and hues. Slowly focused to the eye, deep ravines
cut into the mountain, and gave me a unique feeling that
fed my deep desire to explore the slopes and stream
channels leading up to the highest ridge.

There is a wonderful little park named after the Soup
family that had an enchanting little creek named Adobe
Creek. The creek meandered through the orchards and old
estates. Its banks were lush with dense blackberry
thickets, thick forests and foliage that gave us visual
protection from the owners. With our fishing boots and
supplies, we walked in the creek through private lands
all the way to the giant concrete drainage pipes one had
to negotiate past Foothill College to get to the section
of the creek that flattened out as it flowed through Moody
Canyon. My brother and I and sometimes our friend Rick
did this at least 40 times when we were all between the
ages of 9 to 12 years old. We explored up to where the
mainstream channel turned sharply and steeply and
started the long ascent to the top of the mountain. This
is the point in where the creek goes through Frank and
Josephine Duveneck's ranch. Here one could not hide
without the ranch hands running you out. Once we found
that if we went up the creek at dawn we could make it up
to the blacksmith shop where all the inner activities of
the ranch and all the no trespassing signs and
inhabitants made further exploration impossible.

My father came up with a great idea: to join the Los
Altos Hills Country Club. We had large family gatherings
with all the cousins, aunts and uncles. This gave us 4
to 5 hours to roam the old family estate that the Beluchi
family turned into a very popular day resort with vast
expanses of picnic tables, pools and tennis courts. The
Buck Norred stables had trails that pushed up into the
mountains. As we hiked these trails, we found that we
could get on top of the Duveneck Ranch, which touched
the northern most boundary of the country club without
the ranch inhabitants’ detection. From here, one could
explore back down the creek to the ranch center and see
traces of the old stagecoach road to the lumber mill
located in the current day Portola State Park, before
the current Pagemill Road. The ranch had many pipes and
spring boxes that collected water from the springs and
creek above the ranch and flowed by gravity down for
about three miles above the valley floor. The multiple
limestone-encrusted waterfalls, huge virgin Douglas fir
trees and vast expanses of ferns seemed to go on forever
up the mountain. I am convinced these journeys
influenced my current day pump and well contracting
business.

On one of these solitary excursions, I was heading to
the upper waterfalls and I encountered an older couple
on an adjacent trail. They asked me to come up out of
the creek and talk to them. Mr. and Mrs. Duveneck were
very calm and friendly and, through their exhaustive
questioning, I shared with them all my travels up and
down their watershed above the ranch. They told me they
were impressed with our explorations that led us from
the orchards up through the foothills using the creek as
our path and offered me a job working for them
maintaining the trails. I accepted and they invited me
to join them for lunch in their house. During lunch,
Josephine told me how Frank was an attorney who worked
in San Francisco and how they would ride together back
and forth from the Mountain View train station. They
told me the story how they were driving up Moody Road
and saw the "For Sale" sign hanging by one edge on the
post. In addition, how the old olive trees that the
Franciscan monks planted mystically lured them to walk
into the old abandoned ranch, and how they fell in love
with and bought the ranch.

The ceiling of the living room above the grand piano had
hand-hewn beams and wonderful old world charm throughout
the house, which Frank had remodeled himself. Frank took
me for a tour of the blacksmith shop, the lumber mill
and the old stagecoach stop that one of his sisters or
aunts lived in. You could feel the energy from the old
stagecoach days and the vital hub this ranch used to be
transporting people and mail over the mountains to the
coast.

Working on the ranch trail crew introduced me to a
shovel and pick in way that would make most plumbers
quit. In addition, walking and climbing prepared me for
life at the Land and survival in the backlands. With
the permission of Frank and Josephine, it also gave me
unfettered access to the ranch trails to explore all the
way up to Montebello ridge.

The mistletoe on the top of the grassy oak-studded ridge
had large white berries on them, rarely found in the
flatlands. My brother and I started riding our bikes up
to Montebello Ridge on Page Mill Road to gain quicker
access to harvesting the mistletoe to add to our
door-to-door sales of backyard-dried apricots, and crab
we caught from our Half Moon Bay excursions with Dad. My
brother and I were up a tree next to an old abandoned
stone cottage on the top of the ridge when an old drunk
cowboy with a shotgun asked what the hell we were
doing. He requested a favor for continued exclusive
mistletoe picking rights. Upon asking what favor he
wanted, he loaded us up in an old pickup truck and drove
us past a barn where he said a mountain lion was raising
her cubs, and on to the edge of the ranch. Cecil’s
former boss, who deeded in his will the 1200-acre
property to Stanford University, had given him a life
estate. He showed us my first spectacular panoramic
view, which looked down on Lone Oak Hill.

Cecil the cowboy/caretaker pointed down into the Stevens
Creek Canyon and said there were hippies living all over
in the woods down there and wanted a map of everything
showing how many people there were, the location of the
buses, tepees, tents and what the hell else they were
living in, but warned us to not get caught

The relationships I had made with Cecil and the
Duvenecks afforded me many hiking ventures through
thousands of acres of land. Both properties had a common
boundary and between my mapping duties and working on
the Duveneck ranch and riding my 10-speed from Los Altos
up the mountains to these ranches I became skilled at
walking long distances very quickly. I was able to serve
communion at the early mass on Saturdays and Sundays,
ride up past Foothill College, up Moody Road, Page Mill
Road and Montebello Ridge. Then, leave my bike at
Cecil’s, walk down into the back of the cook shack
bushes and see beautiful naked women in the garden.
Then walk back up the ridge to Cecil’s, ride back down
to Los Altos in time for dinner with my family. Only my
brother knew what his older 13-year-old brother was
really doing.

My friend Rick and I rode our 10 speeds all over the
place, many times up Page Mill and down Alpine Road to
the San Gregorio store, mess around at the beach, ride
home, and then do our chores. Rick and I went
cross-country skiing in the Sierra’s a lot and when the
winter of 1970 dusted the ridge above the land with
snow, we got a ride from Rick’s dad almost up to
Montebello Ridge road. We got out, and skied up to Black
Mountain Ranch. We surprised the hell out of Cecil, and he
told us we were crazy but be good little scouts and ski
our buts over the ridge and do some wintertime
surveying.

The ridgetop that day was cold and blustery the snow
blowing in our face and pockets of visibility opened up
upon the land below. Out from the lower reaches of the
valley behind the front house, two human figures
struggled up towards us. As they got closer, we could
see that they were on snowshoes and pulling a sled. As
they got up to us they asked who we were and where the
heck we came from. We explained to them that we were
local skiing enthusiasts and we offered them some hot
chicken soup. George Geller and Carl Steinhagen, who
were bringing in provisions for their stranded families
gladly accepted. When we pulled out a doobie to share, I
first saw the smirk under George’s mustache as he
proclaimed “Oh these kids these days.” I would later
become fond of that little smirk that would show up in
the countless barn battles of legend. One man showed
everyone how to stuff the entire 10 thousand square-foot
barn with projects and metal objects of many creative
endeavors. After talking for a while, Carl and George
pushed on but not before Carl told us how to find his
bus on the ridge overlooking the Duvenecks ranch.

Riding our bikes one day Rick and I found a road on the
lower part of Moody Road called Russ Ridge. This road
led up to a pasture owned by the Duvenecks. The upper
reaches had a meadow with a windmill, called Windmill
Meadows. At the beginning of this dirt road resided
Trout, a Buddhist. The Duvenecks employed him and gave
him a small mobile home to keep unwanted people out and
off the easement trail. The ranch ran cattle up to the
windmill site. My credentials allowed us entry to these
ranch road/trails that went straight up some leg burning
roads that joined into some PG&E service roads that went
all the way to the Black Mountain Ranch.

1971 was a year of great change for me. It started out
with my football coach telling me I couldn’t have my
hair below my helmet line, my mom threw my electric
guitar out on the concrete for playing Hendrix too loud
and my high school sweetheart confessed infidelity all
in a three-day period. With a ten dollar loan from my
brother, and a backpack stuffed with rations, I headed
across the orchards, now being scarred with new homes, and
headed up the familiar trails to the ridgetop and down
to the barn on a half-moonlit night and sat and cried
with my heartbreak on the old cattle shute. Along came
Juanita and after a little questioning as to who I was,
she showed me such compassion and hugged my tears away
and left me with her cigarette and said I would get
another gal and not to freak out. As she walked away, I
sat there, looked at the barn, and felt strangely at
home. After a mystical night sleeping in the woods I
headed back down the mountain and showed up at the
doorstep of Todd Giesler who lived in a treehouse right
across the street from the Duveneck Ranch, and he took
me in for a few weeks. Todd was in my pottery class at
high school, he was the ace student, and I was the glaze
mixer and clay kneader.

One day I talked Todd into taking his backpack and dog,
Otis, to the land and we walked a new section of the
upper Duveneck watershed I thought would be a short
cut. It was a full moon and athletically fit Todd, was
enjoying the adventures, until the poison oak became
thick and his uncased guitar kept making that famous
noise you heard right after the cartoon character, El
Kabong said “El Kabong!,” followed by Todd’s cussing. We
made it up to the ridge more south than normal and we
spent two days wandering the region south of the
land. We both thought it was spectacular property.

The snows came heavier than the prior year and Page Mill
Road was closed. I had quit high school and decided to
backpack up with my possessions and see how my buddy
Cecil was getting along. I took the straightest route to
the ridge I knew and popped out at Carl’s bus. He wasn’t
home, but the retired New York stockbroker George was
and as the snow and wind were increasing, I accepted his
offer to come in and eat. George, sometimes a comedian,
told me he was giving me potatoes and thought it funny
to announce to the kid from suburbia that he had just
eaten his first bowl of tofu. Not bad.

Unbeknownst to me, George had a war going on with a
wonderful gal named Leslie, and she lived in a dome
attached to a bus built by a piano player named Peter
Music. George told me that in light of my current
situation that I should move into the dome, for the
roads were closed and Leslie had accommodations down the
hill until the snow melted. A great sounding upright
piano was in the dome with an incredible view of Stevens
Creek Canyon below. The nuns had taught me classical
style piano but I had been leaning towards blues and
jazz. This magical spot and the piano kept my attention
for 2 days. After running out of food, I went over to
George and Carolyn’s and told them I was headed down the
hill for rations to return the following day. The walk
down the watershed to Moody Road was through heavy
snowdrifts and I was very excited to see the watershed
in a different state than normal. Life was good and full
of inspiration and excitement. After heading to my
parents and crowbarring the garage freezer open and
swiping 20 pounds of meats, I hitchhiked up to Duvenecks
and returned to the dome. I remember packing all the
frozen meat in the kitchen sink with snow right out the
kitchen door.

I had never met a vegetarian before, and when I awoke to
a screaming women standing in front of the kitchen sink
full of meat, blood, and snow, she proclaimed I had
ruined her space. In addition, she wanted to know what
the hell was all over the floor leading from the bed to
the rear door (I had also never had three cups of hot
milk and molasses before and had no idea of the extreme
laxative effect!)

Leslie threw my naked self out the back door and I sat
in the snow crying and wondering what to do next. Leslie
came out in the dark of night sat next to me and asked
who the heck I was and where did I come from. I
explained my story and George’s involvement and she
hugged and forgave me and said it was crazy to freeze
our butts off, especially my naked one. She said I could
sleep on the couch and we would work it out in the
morning. Leslie let me stay for a week or so, then came
home one day, and said her boyfriend was coming and I
had to go. Of course, she had made me bury the meat in
the woods before burning incense to get the meat smell
out. I have many fond memories of playing the piano and
reading a book called Urantia, which Leslie gave me to
read while she was at work.

Once again, out of resources or a place to go, I got a job
at the Los Altos Hills Country Club. I had
a trailer right at the foot of my trails. I mowed huge
lawns with large mowing machines, cleaned pools, fixed
plumbing and hiked up the canyons to the Land as often
as I could. During this period, Todd---my tree house
pottery friend---hiked with me to visit Carl on the rim of
the ridge. It amazed me how comfortable one could live
in a bus in the woods and how cool he was with the books
he had. Carl was very friendly and truly interested in
our story and invited us to return.

The country club owner started insisting that I cut my
hair, shave and join his church, that I was really
starting to look like a longhaired hippie. Fired for
non-compliance with the owner’s view of how I should
live my life, I headed back up the mountain to my new
friends and a man named Mark Schneider had heard my
story and extended an invitation to caretake the tower
for six months.

Mark had amazing books and much of my time was spent
reading until one day, Billy Wheatly heard about a
strong young new kid. Billy was a skilled artisan of
many degrees and had all kinds of calls from an ad he'd
put in the Los Altos Town Crier that read, “Hang a
shelf. Build a house.”

I learned a lot from Billy and earned all the money I
needed to fully support myself. When Mark returned,
Billy relocated me in the little shack just up from
Frank’s house. In between my 12-hour day job, I rushed
home to my little cabin and grew fond of the place. Even
though Frank and his older friends would only tolerate
me from a distance (my cabin not theirs) I was inspired
for hours on end, from the wonderful bluegrass music
they played. I’m sure that Billy’s warning to Frank and
his friends to leave me alone prevented me from being
tossed out of my cabin. Frank did finally warm up to me
and I found him to be a very hard working intelligent
building contractor that just wanted his privacy.

The cabin was just off from Lone Oak Hill. To avoid
using Frank’s trails, I forged a trail from where the
blackberry bush grew below the spring box. There was an
old mining cave just through the woods with very cold
water flowing out of it. I used it as my refrigerator.
Out of curiosity, some of my high school football
teammates came up to see my mountain cabin and they
where amazed with how I was living. They tried to talk
me back into my old world and the teams cause. From this
cabin, I hiked down into the Stevens Creek River canyon
and explored miles of new territory.

One day I saw an article from a Sunset Magazine, on how
to build a Mexican adobe oven. I got George to torch a
55-gallon drum in half and I hauled bricks and cement
down to the cabin. Here I made a mixing pit in the earth
and mixed the adobe topping to cover the drum half on
the brick hearth. I had work duties on Billy and Maria’s
truly self-sufficient homestead and Maria gave me a
recipe and some sourdough starter. I became skilled at
baking French bread and found it to have high trading
value for other food and supplies with the other land
residents.

Walking by Lone Oak one day, I heard beautiful baroque
violin music and I walked to the top and met Rudy. He
was wise and calm and had the most friendly face and
personality. He asked me about myself and asked me to
take his violin for he was dying of cancer and wanted me
to have it. Astonished with the offer, I accepted and
took my first violin lesson.

The spring box, just up from this cabin, was fed from a
yearlong stream of water that flowed out an amazing hole
in the forked root base of a giant bay tree. As one
looked up to the sky, your eyes touching the smooth
trunk and continued up wandering to its many branches, the
clouds moving in off the coast made you lean with them
as you focused on the blue patches and regained your
stance. The sound of water coming out of this
magnificent tree pulled you back to your center and you
realized that there were probably very few places on
earth like this one. The pipes that fed the cistern
and on to the walnut orchard, had been severed long ago
and you could climb down the ladder to the bottom and it
was dry down there. I brought my violin that Rudy had
given me, down to the bottom of this vast hand-poured
concrete chamber and stood in the darkness for a
moment. Then, as I touched the bow to the violin and
barely moved the horse hairs across the strings, the
power of the sound jetted out with such force and
crashed onto the walls, bounced back and right through
my soul and awoke my ancient self like nothing else had
ever done in my life.

DANNY'S SOULFUL VIOLA, REUNION, JUNE '08
_DSC1148Dannyreunionplay_copy.jpg
photo by Neil

I played for hours down there, learning to throw the
sound out and wait for the vibrations to bounce back
before hitting another note. Leslie took me to Berkeley
one day to see Paul Horn, which inspired many more trips
to the cistern.

Many musical events took place in the 6 months or so I
lived at this cabin and I met many wonderful people. I
had been exposed to Roman Catholic Gregorian chanting,
but never before had I met so many inspired musicians
with East Indian sounds on flutes, percussion
instruments and voices. I met many of the land residents
in there and it seemed that both front landers and
backlanders found temporary common ground in there. I
was working down in Palo Alto repairing musical
instruments and rebuilt a flute I got at a pawn shop. I
brought that down there and wow! The flute was really
amazing down there. The darkness came alive with a
spectrum of colors. No drugs of any kind could make
someone feel so connected to all the inspired musicians
who have inhabited this planet as the timeless sounds
and experiences I had down there. I often think back on
those simple times and gain calmness and perspective in
the rat race of running a business in this greedy world.

Ken Scott was a stand-alone carpenter that did not need
Billy’s direction and had plenty of his own side jobs,
but worked with Billy sometimes and we developed a
friendship. Ken was building a really cool cabin up in
the woods behind Norma’s and later Norman’s abode
straight up the cliffs almost to skyline. This cabin
site was in close competition with Purusha’s dome and
the Rose Cottage as being the most remote living space
on the 800 or so acres of The Land. Ken asked me to move
in with him and help him finish building the
cabin. During the next 8 months, we worked hard and
finished the first phase of Ken’s design. I have many
fond memories of Ken’s banjo music flowing through the
woods as I ascended the steep trail to our home.

The quiet sounds of night and the soothing sounds of the
year long river were, from time to time, interrupted by
some guy named Brett who would yell out in the middle of the
night “Everybody bite the bullet!” followed by all the
local inhabitants in the woods returning volleys “Shut
the f* up Brett!” On a few occasions, Obie and Billy
had to go over in the middle of the night to personally
stifle the 6 foot 4 inch ex-military chopper pilot.

Basically, there are two kinds of people: Those who wear
skirts and bare chests as they ride motorcycles, and
pull engines out of trucks in the barn wearing a turban
and nothing else, with grease all over their balls, and
those who don’t.

Once I took a ride to school with Brett in his Honda
Civic, that he had stripped the seats out of. Nobody had
warned me not to. I believe 9 minutes was his
self-proclaimed record from the Barn to 280. I can attest
to the validity of that statement. I never accepted
another ride from the naked bean stock. Brett treated me
really well and always reminded the front landers (and
others that did not want any newcomers) that I didn’t need
his help to kick their ass, but they were not to mess
with his little buddy. Although every one was fond of
Brett, nobody was spared from his shenanigans.

Michael Emerys, a wise and friendly person to me,
warned Brett that he was not fond of Brett’s skirt
wearing donut-spinning stunts around his Sadhana Ridge
cabin on his motorcycle. One of the funniest things I
have ever seen in my life was watching Little Michael
crawl up Brett’s International truck he was so fond
of. Brett had transported the motorcycle up to
Michael’s and was doing donuts around the
cabin. Michael proceeded to pull an axe out of his back
pack and chop out Brett’s front windshield as Brett
begged Michael “No Michael! Don’t do it!”

Later, on bulldozer day I stood next to Brett as the
bulldozer ground his midnight pulpit into the
ground. Brett stood at attention and was crying. This
annoyed the cat skinner greatly, so he stopped and asked
what and who the hell was he. Brett responded that he
deserved this for what he was involved in during the
war. At this, the operator did one last donut on Brett’s
life and crawled away on his machine.

Ken said he always wanted a brother but didn’t want to
pick up after me any more. (I was definitely a slob. My
mom is the cleanest little German and was harsh with any
mess and Ken paid the price in my rebellion to this
torture. I love my mom and grandma, they showed me what
drive and motivation could do.) I thought it was good
idea for me to move into Philip’s yurt site and later
Brett’s tipi site. We remained friends and worked
together a lot. We both still had a garden together and
many wonderful days, growing our own food and having
great times working on the cabin, playing music and
hiking down the canyon. Ken taught me an immense amount
of carpentry skills and was very kind to me. He was a
great big brother to me and made it easy for me to
transition from a Los Altos kid to an adult. Henry David
Thoreau would have found our existence inspiring. When
Ken fell in love and was going to leave the land, he
asked me to return to live in and caretake his cabin.

The cabin site was remote but I had visitors from time
to time. I played the violin, flute, saxophone and
guitar off the back porch for hours at time and found
peace with myself. Before I left home, I took my father
hiking up to Black Mountain to meet Cecil, and as we
were walking, he spotted George and he grabbed me and
started running down into the woods into the canyon. We
stopped to cook some beans on my backpacking stove on a
large fir stump. I later discovered it was only 300 feet
from where Ken was to pick his spot in the future.

In Ken’s absence, I added a front covered breakfast nook
and second 2nd-story bedroom. Carrying building supplies
and a cast iron stove back to the remodel built strong
legs. Walking long distances became effortless and few
people besides Ray Aravich would dare go hiking with
me. A skylight in the bedroom ceiling tracked both the
sun's and moon's path. A sense of home really set in at
this cabin site. I finished high school living in this
cabin and did my studies and homework with a kerosene
lamp. It is all about keeping the wick trimmed. Todd
stayed at the cabin for a year or so as he continued his
studies at Foothill College. I had forbidden a TV and
when I came home one night a battery powered model
blurted out “Here’s Johnny!“ We still laugh about this
today.

I was a complete oddity at my high school. The coaches
forbid any of my former football team members to
associate with the hippie and the average jocks wanted
nothing to do with me. The school bullies who thought it
would be fun to beat the hippie soon found out that
their soft, pampered, TV watching, spoiled lives made
them incapable of pushing the wild man hippie around and
all very quickly left me alone.

My only friends off the Land were my brother---who liked
to come up to my cabin when I wasn’t home and throw
Kentucky Fried Chicken bones around to attract the
plastic window slashing raccoons---my friends Rick and
Todd, and my fellow Learning Community students taught
by Gary Bacon. I did not have to go to all classes but I
had to find teacher sponsors for history, English,
physical education and botany. Gary took care of social
studies and math.

I could have not lived in a better environment for
really hearing and feeling Emerson, Whitman and
Thoreau. When I voluntarily attended English class and
submitted oral and written reports, the teacher was so
inspired with how affected I was by these writers, she
passed me on that alone. I got the Dean of Students to
sponsor me on my history studies for the Indian’s role
in California’s history. I collected and leached acorns
and made Indian bread in the traditional method and
prepared that and other Native American foods and
brought fresh samples to the conservative faculty
members, using some land residents as Guinea pigs until
I got the recipe down. I also collected many other
plants the Indians uses and wrote reports on how the
Indians used them. When the Principal of the school
heard that I was walking and hitchhiking to school from
15 miles away, he gave me a permanent pass to the
cafeteria. The food that all the women of the Land were
sharing at the potlucks had ruined my ability to eat the
crap the school was serving, but I was very touched by
the Principal’s compassion.

I got Physical Education credit for building the cabin
and botany credit for the greenhouse I built behind the
longhouse and learning why damping off organisms
precluded growing papayas on the North American
continent. Carl showed up to my high school graduation
with Ken Zugman. Both these gentlemen became wonderful
older brothers to me and I thank them greatly for the
generosity and kindness they showed me.

Gary, my high school teacher, found me stocking cans at a
7-11 store on a job Paul Wells found me. Paul somehow
had a contract with the chain and we went from store to
store doing this. Paul helped me out a lot and was
supportive. Thanks Paul. Gary had heard from many people
that there was this wild man living up on a commune that
left the school and he came found me and talked me into
continuing my education. I owe a lot to Gary, with whom
I still have a deep and continuing relationship. Many
school trips to Yosemite and other cultural trips
greatly added to the land experience.

Paul lived at Stony Ridge Ranch where the monks live now
and I forged a new trail system from Ken’s cabin to
Paul’s to go to work. This location was very close to
the Hwy 35/Page Mill intersection.

I met Patsy one day as I was hitchhiking to high school
and she gave me a ride right up to the front of
school. Even the jocks wanted to know who that pretty
gal was when I walked past them. Patsy lived at Black
Mountain at the time. This opened up an extended walk
from my cabin up to Stony Ridge and over to Black
Mountain. The parking lot below this ranch was perfect
for selling mistletoe and playing the guitar until the
Skyline Ranch people got all pissed off because people
started returning their mistletoe for mine. I can’t
help it if Cecil’s trees had better berries! The Black
Mountain crowd started mixing with Struggle and the Land
and so a giant extended family developed in my life.

I looked forward to each day on the Land. You never knew
what was going to happen next. You would see Billy
driving up and down the road in that dastardly red 2-ton
flatbed Studebaker that later ran my ass over, towing an
engine block up and down the road, or maybe Billy and
that huge bull Draino pushing each other head to head on
that same road. Billy said that bull was stronger than
shit! That even in granny gear that bull could stop the
truck's forward progress. The big black animal had a
specialty of storming in the barn after someone left the
door open and showing you how he got his nickname by
showing you just how big his liquid shits in the middle
of the floor actually were!. You could hear Leslie
yelling out “someone call Tiny!” Tiny was not a small
cowboy and he said Drano could rip through any fence he
wanted to. Tiny was always asking someone “Hey have you
seen Drano?”

While I partially recovered at my parent's after the
accident, Robyn and Kathy helped changed by bandages and
wounds as I stayed at Kathy’s. I missed the Land too
much to just lay around at the comfort of my parent‘s
house.

Getting to school was no problem. The long walk from
Ken’s to the front started down a steep grade west of
the Stevens Creek bed and up another long steep grade
out of the river valley and up to the lower meadows
below Lone Oak. I remember early morning scenes of birds
flying, with the lifting clouds that seemed to be sucked
by a powerful force upwards, parting the hold they had
on the trees. As the clouds lifted, the views became
visible of the entire Stevens Creek Canyon all while you
were on an old cattle trail that was on a steep
45-degree angle hill. You then rounded the trail below
Lone Oak past the cook shack meadows and up the ranch
road to the barn and that old cattle shute. Once I
started getting rides with the local mountain residents,
I learned to recognize which cars to stay away from by
just ducking behind the cattle shute as they went by and
waiting for ones I liked. Many insisted on driving me to
the front steps of the school. This caused a lot of
gossip around the school. Getting to school on time
required getting up around 5am and getting up to the
barn. After a longhouse bash, I noticed the outside
showers. Most people were not aware that a scum
backlander was using the forbidden showers reserved only
for frontlanders

One foggy morning in the blackness, I noticed a woman
perched on top of the roof looking down at me telling to
get the ** out of here. When I said when I was done
with my shower I would, but I would come back any time I
wanted to, she came down and around through the long
house doors and said she was going to beat my ass! Being
of quick temper myself and just fresh off the football
team as a defensive nosegaurd (as well as the morning
light giving here a glimpse of her opponent) I told her
that if she took one more step at me, I would hit her
like a dude. She paused and realized that she did not
have a chance in hell of beating my ass. She and I
became friends over the years and she later gave me a
few jobs to put me through school.

The Long House was an amazing place. It was a complete
kitchen and mess hall for the old honor camp prison that
was there for years, when much of the land’s
infrastructure was built. (The walnut orchards were
planted. The spring box and its piping were installed
and some mining done.) Many fantastic parties were held
at the Long House, with great music and
dancing. Wonderful breakfasts and potlucks too. I think
Mark perfected his omelet making skill there. Once I
remember a standoff with Hell’s Angels coming to our
parties and all of us land men, both frontlanders and
backlanders, told them they had to bring their own women
or do not come. The Angels honored this and no other
problems ever flared up again. Also, the long house was
the location of the famous photograph as the swat teams
were unloading out of the trucks and Rain and Judy had
Bob Dylan’s song playing from their upper bedroom
window.

The barn was a hub of activity. You could watch Neil and
Wilder making jewelry (both were extremely talented) you
could go to the free store and shop and when you
volunteered time at the store or went up to Westbrae you
could buy all kinds of groceries at cost. You could get
lessons from Jim and Brian on how to build stained glass
lamps and woodcarvings. Or, get your engine removed by a
naked mechanic or have Wilder diagnose weird noises with
a dowel stuck in his ear. You could get windows sand
blasted in all kinds of shapes and be playfully insulted
by George. And you could get cabinets made by Billy and
Co. There was a bulletin board next to the phone booth
that locals and land residents posted work wanted
notices.

The day they tore down the barn is one of the saddest
days in my life. After we were evicted, the lying park
officials promised us we could take the barn down and
take it with us. Under Billy and David McConnell’s
direction, at least 15 of us guys, stripped the metal of
the whole barn and stacked it up neatly, and as we were
taking the beautiful hand-built truss down, I heard the
sound of heavy diesel engines and saw lowboys come over
Sadhana Ridge as their jake brakes punctured the morning
air. Behind them were the same park officials who
assured us we would be given the time to finish the
dismantling of the historic barn. Mr. Burns’ hatred of
Mr. Eldridge and hippies finally caught up with us.
the_barn_being_knocked_down.jpg
photo by Court Tefft

The memories of all the wonderful people: Neil Young
fainting trying to put out a fire in the walnut orchard
started by barbequed baby diapers and all that we were
was finally over. Of course, Billy had me hanging from
my rock climbing harness from the very top of one of the
trusses pulling nails. When I refused to come down to
slow the destruction down, the cops said I was making it
worse for myself. David McConnell talked me down. The
cops said if I came down now they would not arrest
me. As I watched the Cat operator smile with pleasure
and Mr. Burns smiling from his reddened lips,
I looked around to notice I was not the only landite
crying like a baby.

I have many memories: Gary’s and Bea’s wedding on top of
the ridge as the sun was setting and the moon rising and
the all-nighter that followed. Getting a copy of a
newspaper clipping my mom sent me while I was in
Washington (with Ray picking apples to get to Maui),
showing the silhouette of Land residents stopping the
advancement of the first bulldozer attempt. Burns hired
a cat to destroy the houses but forgot to tell the
operator there were people living in them.

I remember the work crews that helped everyone build
each other’s houses. Rip’s house raising was especially
productive. Bob Scowcroft and Shari’s tickle fights on
Lone Oak Hill parties, the amazing parties on Lone Oak,
Easter morning and Dianne hopping up in her pink
full-body bunny suit is forever stuck in my head. The
fantastic piece of property we lived on, the views of
the canyon, and everything we had all become was now
over.

Anne and I were the last official residents of the
Land. She had not been served properly and the city was
still in that process. I had swept the forest floor
clean of any trail remnants to the secluded cabin site
Ken picked, and I destroyed the bridges. For about six
months, I went undetected, after everything had been
bulldozed and the front house had mysteriously
burned. The Buddhists at Stony Mountain allowed me to
come through their property. One day there was a large
windstorm that snapped the dense oak tree branches that
hid the view of my roofline and it was now visible. I
was trying to get enough money to buy camouflage when
the park surveyors discovered my roofline from Sadhana
ridge. I found a note on my wall and a painted number on
the house. The note said “Good hiding job. You have 24
hours to get out.”

I watched, undetected, the demolition process on Ken’s
and my cabin by the sheriffs and rangers. They took a
chainsaw and sectioned the house in cubes. Then with a
special mini bulldozer, (they tried to get a bigger one
in but couldn’t) dug a hole downhill from the cabin and
simply pushed it in and buried it. As I was watching
this from close by, a helicopter discovered me and the
chase was on. The chopper operator was announcing over
the loud speaker my position to the others, and tried to
keep my position called out. Short of a bullet, those
cops and rangers didn’t have chance in hell to catch up
to me. I ran through the woods down on a 45-degree angle
as I heard one guy say, “Shit, there’s poison oak
everywhere!”

I used to get poison oak badly as a child, but Billy’s
goats, Winnie and Sara, ate poison oak regularly, and
all the goat milk products I ate built an immunity that
has lasted to this day. In addition, being very adept at
running through the woods, I made it down to the
extremely rough section of the river and crisscrossed it
for miles to confuse any search parties. I stayed in the
woods below the cook shack were this whole adventure
started and the next morning took a route towards the
winery south of the Black Mountain Ranch and headed down
the PG&E roads to Los Altos.

Dale Oderman invited me to stay at the old mansion some
other land people had moved to where the Whole Earth
Catalogue was created under the redwood trees.

I have barely skimmed all that was at the Land here,
and the people of the Land taught me a lot of the skills
I use to this day. I am a plumber, carpenter, music
instrument repairman and a well driller. For the last
24 years I have been with Karin, a wonderful woman and
have had a life full of adventures beyond the Land
which I hope to share with all my long lost friends. I
love and miss you all.

Danny