“Skyline” in the 1960s: Part VI


[Recap: In the 1960s the colorful members of the aptly named Floating Lotus Opera Company were happily living on John Wickett’s 4,400-acre Skyline property. Meanwhile, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office was hounding Wickett because of neighbor’s complaints about these same guests, who, as free spirits weren’t wearing very much clothing.]

During a 1979 interview at John Wickett’s 4-story Pacific Heights, San Francisco home, he told me that most of the young free spirits “used assumed names to forget their pasts.” Most often they took one very sweet new name like “Sunshine”, “Blue” or “Flower”. The 1960s was the era of the famous “flower children” and John said “they didn’t want to embarass their parents.”

One who changed his name was the artist Jim Maggio. On Wickett’s land, he re-named himself “Sandy Castle”–and he brought new and fascinating young creative people to Skyline. “People from top-notch, affluent East Coast families,” John told me.

Later, according to John Wickett, Sandy became the manager of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young–the signature ’60s musical group that is synoymous with the flower children movement. (And eventually Neil Young bought land near Wickett’s property). You could love the English Beatles or the Stones, but you’d surely have a collection of CSN& & Y albums. They created the authentic American mood of the time.

The County D.A. was trying to force people off Wickett’s land but he managed to delay their legal moves for a while. Whenever the pressure intensified, he gently told the flower children, “You can’t be so evident.”

They loved the cool breezes at the top of the mountain, and the warm sunlight in the magical meadows– and, taking Wickett’s advice to heart, they retreated deeper into the woods where they hoped they would not be seen.

But on a sparkly sunny Skyline afternoon, the sound of hammers and handsaws broke the warm silence.

…To Be Continued…