Friday, December 21, 2007

"Where the Hippies are"

If it’s the holidays it must mean my annual shopping trip to Yellow Springs.

I used come here more frequently when I first moved from California, but now maybe just once or twice a year.

Yellow Springs is known in the Dayton area as the place “where the hippies are”, which annoys me whenever I hear people say that..

The hippies no-doubt were in Yellow Springs. In 1970.

We’re in 2007.


Yellow Springs is akin to certain northern California communities, like Nevada City, Bolinas, Tomales, Booneville, Guerneville, Mendocino, perhaps Calistoga, perhaps even Davis, that were once locales for the 1960s counterculture, but have beyond that, in some cases becoming somewhat upscale enclaves for whom David Brooks calls “bourgouis bohemians” (AKA The BoBos).

But Yellow Springs is (was?) a college town, too, the college being the famous (albeit small) Antioch, which drew a student body and (I’m guessing) faculty hip to whatever countercultural scene was current, so the “alternative” aspect of the community was always being refreshed and updated.

I guess folks in the rest of the Dayton area have no context for all this, thus it is all “hippie” to them.

Yellow Springs also draws on newcomers to the area from more progressive and open-minded parts of the USA, who go into culture shock at first encounter with Southwest Ohio and look to Yellow Springs as an oasis of sorts.

I was one of those newcomers. I came very close to moving to Yellow Springs. In fact the ‘Springs was my first choice as a place to live. For various reasons I ended up in Washington Township, which means the “Springs became very out-of-the-way for me. As time wore on I visited to Yellow Springs less and less

Though I drew comparisons with certain country towns in Northern California Yellow Springs also reminds me of Louisville. If one can imagine an urban neighborhood infused with the spirit of Yellow Springs one would have the Louisville neighborhoods of Clifton, Crescent Hill, and the various neighborhoods collectively known as The Highlands (though Louisville is a bit more politically avant-garde, and Yellow Springs is more new-agey).

Yellow Springs’ cultural aura makes extends beyond the village, particularly in the local music scene. Some of my favorite music acts (The Professors, Dawn Cooksey, The Corndaddies) are or were based in Yellow Springs, and there is of course WYSO 91.3 FM, which helps make life in the Dayton region bearable. The bar/restaurant Peach's Grill is turning out to be one of the better live music venues in the area, giving Canal Street Tavern a good run for the money in the bands it books

One can also talk about The Winds and the Little Art, particularly The Winds, which operates at California levels of gastronomic innovation and quality

Given the recent issues with Antioch one wonders if Yellow Springs will retain its character. I think it will, as long as there is a trickle of in-migrants to the Dayton region from outside of Ohio who appreciate what the community has to offer and relocate there.


jafabrit said...

Yea! where are they? I have to wonder too about the hippie label lol! Nice review of the village. What I like is being able to walk into town and get fresh baked bread from the emporium.
We have a very vibrant art scene (moi being part of it :) And maybe the next time you come keep your eyes peeled for the found art objest many of our local artists leave around. has a few examples.

and here is the arts council blog

Buckeye said...

My husband and I were in Yellow Springs a long time ago. I graduated from Antioch in 1960 and we stayed for while after as my husband worked in the administration. Our first child was born in Springfield at Mercy Hospital.
I enjoyed seeing the photos of 'downtown' Yellow Springs. Don't recognize a thing. Is the Miami Deposit Bank still there? In those days, you could walk into the Miami Deposit Bank and walk out with a mortgage.
The Tavern may still be there, right? Deeton's Hardware? Luttrell's Super Market?

Jefferey said...

I think there is a hardware store in the red brick building to the left on the last pix, and the Old Trail Tavern is the buildng with the neon sign to the right on the first pix.

There is a supermarket in town, still, but I havn't heard about that bank.


jafabrit makes a good point about YSO's art scene, which I didn't mention. This is another parallel with Louisville and some of those California towns. A healthy local artist and craftsperson community, as well as folks who support the creative community by buying the works.

jafabrit said...

Weavers is now Toms Market, and the hardware store is still on the corner. The little art theatre is still hanging in there, as is Town Drug, Earth Rose, ohio silver, ha ha pizza. Miami bank is now US bank. The Tavern is still there and was cited in the news last year when ghosthunters did a documentary on the ghost there.
Just for those who might be interested, we do have an art gallery in the public restrooms called the ChamberPot Gallery.
And some really cool murals and graffiti in Keiths Alley.

Anonymous said...

There were nice free concerts in the 70's too. Like hippie days the panhandlers were in SF first then red bands lik TGD

Anonymous said...

Yellow Springs has a Kinkadian charm - a true oasis to the truths of current society - that it makes even the local Trustafarians bearable.