BWill.jpgill (Will) Linguist AKA – Wild Bill
Born 1943

Interviewed by Court Tefft on 2/23/03
at Struggle Mountain

CT: How did you end up on Black Mountain?

Will: I was living on a sailboat in San Francisco and down the coast right about the time Alcatraz was occupied by the Native Americans. AIM came and we moved our sailboat down the coast to the Half Moon Bay Area and after a couple of years on the sailboat I kindawent inland to where I was raised. There was all this action that had spilled over from the mid 60’s. I had lived in the Haight Street area in 1965 and 1966 and during the existing regime of Ronald Reagan as governor. I had become a petty fugitive and living in the mountains was a way of adapting.

CT: What were you a fugitive from?

Will: I was a fugitive from possessing smokeables and some rather good mescaline and a really fine hash pipe. I went to jail over in in a neighboring county for a couple of weeks and copped a plea and got out. I didn’t have any money. I was living in the Bay Area at the time and that sort of started the rollercoaster…driving on asuspended license…you might find a beer can in the back of the truck, or a canoe hanging the back. They use to call in the helicopters. if you drove an old pickup and you were generally suspect.

CT: Suspect as a Revolutionary?

Will: More like Just someone to harass

CT: And you were Psychedelasized?

Will: Yeah there was a certain amount of searching. I became part of the visual culture. I was on the search and the search is still continuing.

CT: What were you looking for?

Will: The Answer. The answer to the great mystery that still presents us with…our purpose.

CT: Like why we are here? How do we fit in, and how do we live peacefully and harmoniously?

Will: Very much and… how do we cooperate? That was actually what began my cooperative experience in life and in life styles. Our goal was really a focus...a conscious will of focus for a group head. Sometimes we were successful and at other times it was meltdown. You had extreme highs and extreme lows and taken together with all the substances and changing of partners and living on the land and just living in our general geographical experience…it was certainly high input.

CT: So it’s the journey... that’s the mystery.

Will: Yes and it continues to unfold. My greatest joy is in watching my children and my friends continuing in their own way…with measured pride. There are some casualties here and there but for the most part in my circle...this next generation is on course.

CT: So it’s all working out. The quest continues from generation to generation.

Will:Well.. Absolutely.

CT: So everything that you went through back then you’re still going thru. It wasn’t irrelevant, just a fad, or a faze. It’s a lifestyle for you.

Will: In some sense it's resistance. Resistance to the dominant culture…in a more easy going manner, instead of banging heads. I enjoy the fact that there isn’t a great divide between the generations. We are able to dialogue on a real level…a continuous level…that gives me great hope. It’s a lot different from my parents’ generation.

CT: So your parents were the WW11 generation…the warriors from the depression.

Will: Yeah

CT: What do you do…work wise?

Will: I have adapted many times. Jobs use to grow on trees here in the Bay Area. I moved north after repeated encounters with “the man” (laughs)and I moved north 30 years ago and I became part of another urban community. For the last 20 of those 30 years I was a recycler. I’m still a recycler except I recycle less heavy items, you know instead of recycling 55 gallon drums of glass or bales of newspaper and flatbed loads of metals. I’m recycling boxes of records, rare vinyl and books.

CT: So do you consider yourself a wealthy man without having the trappings of wealth?

Will: Yeah. I live in my own house. It’s paid for. It’s not perfect. I’ve done most of the work myself. I’ve raised my son there. We have strong roots to the place…my partner and I. It’s got too much traffic for my sense of well being but what keeps me in Eugene is the people…besides it’s a wonderful place to find books.

CT: How did you end up on Black Mountain?

Will: A friend of mine... his brother had built a dome there. I visited once and it was an interesting occurrence. Howard, who was also a member of Black Mountain…Howard and partner…they were both San Jose State alum and I’d come up to visit several times and there was a psychiatrist that had a friend there… the controller of the money…the “finance minister” of the community and he was withholding the rent so the psychiatrist could bring in mental patients and experiment with narcoleptic drugs. All the members decided that this wasn’t fair because he was jeopardizing the welfare of the general population of the community. Howard and I moved his stuff out and locked up his house and that’s how I got my little cabin.

CT: When you moved in there was an existing community, homes had been built.

Will: Yes, not as many as eventually got to be built there. On the 27 acres there were probably 4 or 5 dwellings including the main house.

CT: How close was the group when you moved in?

Will: It was always in flux…it was always a changing situation because there were a lot of people visiting. There were many duties to take care of in our daily lives. One of the big ones was paying the rent. I think our share was about $40 a month… a piece. Somebody always seemed to have money if somebody didn’t….that was the best part and with the neighboring communities we had a food coop which I became a part of…the shopping…weekly for fresh vegetables and monthly for grains. Shopped for I believe it was over 300 people. Two of use used to go to the San Francisco produce market and deal with the Asian Pillipino growers of the Central Valley. They loved us coming because we were happy, loose and had a big fist of cash and we were always able to bargain for the veggies.
I remember one time. I guess it was David Harris who just got out of jail and he brought a friend who he was in jail with for that year or so. His name was JC and he had this old one ton van that was rusted out with expired Kentucky plates. We went shopping in that and of course I didn’t have a driver’s license but somehow we made it every week...the 40 or so miles down the mountain and back to get that food. I'd call it magic.

CT: Was there a lot of magic at that time and what kind of magic?

Will: Well the magic…being that this is the area that I was raised in. I was raised rurally and in the dysfunction of my rearing, you know, escape was to the mountains. So to me this was home and coming back here now even at age 60 is a real blessing. Getting out of the rain soaked NW and continuing the connection with you people (Struggle Mt.) our extended family…that’s something I passed on to my son, his friends and with some of the children of this same group of folks.

CT: How did you make ends meet back in those days?

Will: Whoa! I do remember that some people had more money that others. A lot of it…you could live on love, ha!…there was plenty of that going around.

CT: You didn’t need as much money at that point in time.

Will: Occasionally you took an odd job. One thing that we did do was when The Land was founded …750 acres down the road from Black Mountain, we had scored an amazing amount of free lumber over at the Oakland Navy yard…from the old buildings. We made many truckloads of lumber that was laid out close to my cabin on the south end of BM. That’s where much of the wood got cut and spread out amongst the neighbors.

CT: So “The Land” was partially built from the Oakland Navy Yard wood?

Will: Essentially that was the beginning. One fellowI, can’t remember his name though I can see his face, was a pleasant even keeled person and was easy to follow in the wake. Some people had a natural ability of leadership and I remember he was one that organized that lumber pile even though we did the labor. He lived at the Whole Earth Truck Store and he was a scientist.. My, what was his name? We should find out who that is (Paul Fox?) It was really a fine group effort.

CT: So as a group you had certain projects like going to get this lumber and distributing it among different homesteaders…you had gardens and that sort of thing”?

Will: Oh Yeah, there were gardens everywhere. Every community had a garden. I think there were 7 other communities. There was The Yin Palace, the Whole Earth Truck Store, The Land, Pacific School, The Mill, China Grade and Struggle Mountain. There were always a lot of social events that were going on that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
There were concerts…Dead concerts… There were concerts where Miles Davis was playing down at Frost Amphitheater, Joan Baez…it cost little to get into a concert($1.00)…if you didn’t have the money; you found a way to get in.
There were always group adventures. Pile as many as you could get into a car and go. There was the “Tree /Frog Beer Man” he’d call us up and we’d go down help him out. Down in La Honda there was Marijuana Leaf Beer. Most grew marijuana back then and all we grew was leaf. Nobody knew about buds, thiugh now we know about buds… it’s a revolution. (Laughter)

CT: What was going on in La Honda? La Honda was the home of the Merry Pranksters and Ken Kesey at one point in time. What would happen on a Friday night if you went down to La Honda?

Will: There was Boots and Saddles, Venturis…lots of venues to hear live music.
You know maybe even Neil Young. Even down on the South of Skyline there was a place above Los Gatos…Hot Tuna use to play there.. Man, I can’t remember the name of that place.

CT: Then on north Skyline you had The Red Pump later called Alex’s, now the Mountain House and the Bella Vista and the Vista Delmar.
The communities that you mentioned up on the hill… was there any kind of a class structure? How did these communities function?

Will: We were always trying to reach consensus…it was a lot of work. Sometimes just setting the table was difficult. The choices were many. We all came from different walks of life…even though you could generalize it as middle class and some probably some from upper middle class, educated, gifted and not so gifted…rebel types. It was a real mix.

CT: Was there a lot of cross pollination between the different groups? Did you go visit other communities?

Will: Oh yeah, Oh Yeah! There were spin off communities. I was a part of one that lasted a couple of years in Mendocino and that drew people from several communities in Santa Cruz Mtns. I don’t keep contact with but with a handful of those people and only because there’s some tragedies involved. Some people passed on and some didn’t care to relive those times and moved on.

CT: At one point in time there were the Hill Monsters and you were loosely associated with them. Who were the Hill Monsters and what was their relationship to Black Mountain? How did the Hill Monsters feel about all those “hippies” at Black Mountain?

Will: I didn’t participate with that attitude. I went with the Hill Monsters out of disallusionment. Because on a personal growth level I was maybe less integrated than some of the members and so in my attempts at reconciliation I would party with the Hill Monsters.
We were a unique group. We were kind of a spin off of the Merry Pranksters...we were much more a wastrel group of people. It was very serious drinking and partying. It was serious drugs and that was the focus..
To be a full fledged member of that group you had to be 100% something or another in heritage.
We had Glenn, who was a Russian Jew. He lived out at Hide Out Mountain, which was a cabin that overlooked the Pacific from the north end of the Santa Cruz Mountains. a beautiful place.
Then there was Junkie Bill the carpenter who was in "Darkness, Darkness"… a documentary on heroin addiction. Myself? I had an older sister that was a beat era member(the 1st black sheep)…that kept me away from needles and I’ve been fearful of them ever since.
Then there was Tom the Pollock, Earl the Blackman, Indian Terry, Danny the Irishman…that blew his brains out after joining the Marines.

CT: Playing Russian roulette and he lost.

Will: That’s the kind of people we were.

CT: I remember Danny…one time; he went after a rattlesnake in a woodpile. He wanted a hat band. So there was a rattlesnake in the woodpile and he decided he’d get the rattlesnake. He did get the rattlesnake but the rattlesnake also got him. He went off to the hospital and that was okay…he survived the rattlesnake bite and got himself a hatband.

Will: We did a lot of weird bonding on those kind of things. Who could be the most outrageous in any given situation. One of the things was with the partying types down there in La Honda…we’d have spring baseball and you’d bring all the beer and all the liquor and anybody who had any personnel grudges maybe over a girl or some slight…it was their duty to inflict pain.
I played catcher so if anyone wanted to dust me…they could dust me at home plate. There were some pretty serious injuries on opening day every spring.(laughs)
It was not always like that…there were very many magical moments that counteracted these self indulgent insanities and that’s what I can explicitly say. I would n't want to pass that down to any one close to me…especially a child.

CT: So you guys would drink Whiteport & Lemonjuice and Rainer Ale?

Will: "The Corners". We all had charge accounts down there. Chuck(ME origins) loved us, we kept him in business during the slow times inthe winter. We’d do the liquor run, then we’d play a famous card game called…Screw Your Buddy. I wouldn’t know how to play it anymore, ha! By the time we got into the tequila...the hard stuff later in the day…we had burnt some serious brain cells.

CT: Then you’d go to sleep and do it again?

Will: Do it again…and then something would come along. It looked like you were casting a line out there into the ocean of consciousness and you would pull up another purpose and you would dry out…for months and find belief and hope and something new and exciting to go on another spiritual search. So I did that for a couple of years.

CT: So Glenn actually died from drinking too much beer. He just became toxic and it killed him.

Will: No…I belive he was shooting up in a bar in Redwood city in the classic die in a restroom.

CT: That’s sad. How about the Hells Angels in La Honda…did you have any experiences with the Hells Angels?

Will: No, not really, maybe once.

CT: So off you went up to north. What was going on up north at that time? Was it similar to the Bay Area?

Will: In some areas…in fact it’s still going on with the Oregon Country Fair and some of the earliest intentional communities.

CT: What does it feel like now when you come back to the Bay Area?

Will: Well my folks bought their house in Woodside in 1943 when I was 3 months old. We were raised in a 2 bedroom house us 3 kids. I just drove by it yesterday with you and there’s only one wall standing and someone is adding on a palatial palace. There is a lot of new rich around.
When I was growing up I was raised with the Schilling spices and diamond mine owner kids, The Fullers, Pillsbury’s, you name it.
I grew up with all those kids but when I started high school I was a little stunted because they were all pre business and pre law and they weren’t my friends anymore and I didn’t know why. So I continued throwing pomegranates and turkey eggs at Rolls Royces and Bentleys.

CT: So… you were a wild child?

Will: There was a lot of territory to cover, me and my dog..when things were rough we’d head for the mountains. There were no fences back then, there just weren’t any fences. All the way to the top(Skyline) through the redwoods. Now everything is fenced. It's all legislated.
We use to have foxhunts come by our house.Can you believe that! There were a lot of open spaces and 20 acres of it in front of the house.

CT: So Woodside was a small town. Everybody knew everybody.

Will: Yeah, yeah, it was a real small town. There were eleven kids in my first grade. We had a quonset hut for a classroom at Woodside Grammar School. The main building…the administrative building had been built around 1911.
There was logging and it had pretty much started to peter out and the land was preserved. The second growth looks like first growth by now. It was a great place to be raised. It was a wonderful place to be raised.
I think its part of my survival package…to be able to find roots. I had the newspaper route and you’d drive by “Old Poppy Hill” the police chief. he’d wave, and he’d be reading his paper in his underwear. I sold seeds when I was a kid. I knew everybody in the neighborhood. I was the neighborhood kid and I’m still the neighborhood kid… I know everybody in my neighborhood. I know my neighborsreally well and I’ve been there 24 years now.
In a town of 145,000 people I can still walk over to the Natural Foods store and pick apples on the way. And I always say when I can’t pick apples from the field across the block on my way to the store…it’s time for me to move. It could be soon!

CT: I’m curious about the sexual revolution. What was going on there? The relationship between men and women.

Will: Some of them lasted. I’m still friends with some out there in Hawaii and other places. Plenty to go around! There are single people out there today...I don’t think they should be home owners…I think they should open their spare bedroom to somebody whose homeless…if were gonna do it right.

CT: Dr. Zhivago?

Will: Dr. Zhivago (laughs) yeah let’s start burning the furniture (laughs). It’s like there are so many single homeowners in this country and you look at third world countries or developing countries and the homeless situation in our own communities…to me its borders genocide. The situation...thats where the class system has committed a crime and people continue to be in denial…and are distracted by the latest technology or whatever.

CT: Are you some sort of Socialist or Marxist or Capitalist, or what?

Will: Hey I gotta make some money like anybody else. I’ve never been able to label myself. I was too late for the beat generation and to early for the hippie generation, even though I was right there. I seem to have had one foot in and a foot out. I was always looking for guidance from older wiser folks. The 'Live Simply so Others may Simply Live' crowd.

CT: Are you an idealist? Do you think there is hope for the future? Are we going to have a better world?

Will: Well yepper, these are dark times but out of dark times comes much potential. I see collectively where more of an indigenous type revolution…people who are really being exploited and mined for resources stand up for true democracy.

CT: What do you think is creating these dark times?

Will: Greed, fear, the military industrial complex, too many weapons out there, too many pissed off ignorant people. It’s pretty well integrated since Reaganomics that was the beginning. I believe this is 'their' last grab.
It shows itself through the WTO demonstrations...Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia…all these countries are gonna change the way we think…in the end. We best learn how to cooperate. We better not walk like we're ready to pull a six gun while we're trying to straighten out bolo tie.(laughs). All they know how to talk about is friggin war. What’s the point!
The thing that going on now, this thing about the individual, I’m the extreme, the exceptional individual(tongue boring hole in cheek), and I’m standing tall…I made it…the thing is 'they' seem to be all clones.

CT: Has the class structure in America gotten worse?**

Will:’s pathetic. When money is the bottom line…that’s pathetic. What I got, what you don’t got, that’s really pathetic, but I do have hope in the world around us and the generation coming up.