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A Look at Life Inside a 1969 Hippie Tree House Village in Hawaii (NSFW)

3. Diane Upstairs in tne Bedroom

Diane Upstairs in tne Bedroom

15. Hawk, Cherry and Moses

Hawk, Cherry and Moses

4. The School Teacher's House

The School Teacher’s House

Taylor Camp, says Hawaii-based photographer John Wehrheim, was not a commune, and there were no rules. Set at the edge of the road along the beach of the ancient island of Kauai, the tiny village was home to restless souls longing to escape from the unrest of their generation, from the traumas of the Vietnam War, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations. Youngsters from around the country fled to Taylor Camp, where they erected and lived in makeshift tree houses of bamboo and tin, rode the surf, lounged in the nude, smoked weed, fished and farmed, and raised their children.

Wehrheim arrived in Kauai in 1971 at the age of twenty-three, bearing only a bag, a surfboard, and a bong. He and a former student from his time teaching at Honolulu’s Hawaii School for Girls were invited to stay on the property of Howard Taylor, who at the time owned the land on which the camp stood. After the first thirteen hippie campers to settle on the island were jailed under state vagrancy laws, Howard, who happened to be the brother of starlet Elizabeth, bailed them out and offered them the land that stood just across the bay from his home. By 1969, the camp was officially Taylor Camp, ultimately growing to house nearly one hundred men, women, and children, whom Wehrheim frequently visited for sleepovers and photo shoots.

When he first ventured into the camp, the photographer was met with a degree of suspicion. It wasn’t until he came across a 75 feet long party house, known simply as “The Big House,” that the face of Debi Green emerged from the treetops. She welcomed him into the fold, introducing him to her sister Teri and allowing him to snap their portraits. When he came knocking with the gleaming silver prints, their trust was his, and he found himself booked full of sessions on the camp. In exchange for his photographs, Wehrheim was paid in meals, weed, and parties, where clothing was always optional. Looking back, he affectionately calls it his “dream assignment.”

People came to Taylor Camp in search of an existence sequestered from the violence that dominated mainstream media and life. There were college kids, war veterans, and young adults fleeing from the law and from the shadow of the draft. Here, they found the peace and solidarity that had eluded them in their previous homes. They found friends, lovers, brothers, and sisters. While some held steady jobs, others found work with the locals, who generally resented the mass hippie migration but also valued that the campers were willing to labor for small amounts of cash. The children rode the bus to the local school, and they had an in-house mid-wife and a medic returned from the war. Food grew naturally all around them, and many were supported also by welfare and food stamps. When he visited on weekends, Wehrheim brought with him cucumbers and bananas, farmed fresh between the photography courses he taught at a local college.

Taylor Camp stood for eight years, until in 1977 it was razed to the ground. As the state government began to close in, the community enlisted the help of Legal Aid attorney Max Graham and his assistant JoAnn Yukimura, who would go on to become both Wehrheim’s wife and the country’s first Japanese-American woman mayor. Although the evictions were delayed over a few years, most the campers were ultimately persuaded to abandon camp of their own volition, relocating to different parts of the island and country. The few who stayed behind were robbed and beaten by local troublemakers until they were carted out by the authorities and every last remnant of the camp was burned. A mother and her infant were among the few who remained until the end.

These days, Wehrheim is a member of the Taylor Camp Facebook group, and he frequently reconnects with former residents, and in addition to the book, he has created a film to honor his friends from Taylor Camp. While Wehrheim admits that he has moments of homesickness for Taylor Camp, he knows that it was never really his home to mourn. The people close to him had all left before the torch hit the ground. He knew, he says, that the time had come, and from the rubble, he had lifted a gleaming set of memories. What he remembers best is the quality of the light, the shimmering rays of sun that flooded through trees and into the houses. Those eight years at Taylor Camp are a small and glittering sliver lodged in the memory and imaginations of all who lived there, but still the photographer cautions about living in the past, concluding, “I feel a sense of nostalgia for ‘the good old days,’ but I also realize that right now we’re living the good old days.”

Purchase the Taylor Camp book and film here.

1. Limahuli Stream Sunrise

Limahuli Stream Sunrise

5. Dana, Karma at the Big House

Dana, Karma at the Big House

6. Teri and Rosey

Teri and Rosey

8. Roberto in front of Sharon and Karma's House

Roberto in front of Sharon and Karma’s House

9. Andy and Pat

Andy and Pat

10. Minka and Alpin in their Room

Minka and Alpin in their Room

11. Cherry with Moses upstair after nursing

Cherry with Moses upstairs after nursing

12. Johnny and Marie at home

Johnny and Marie at home

Bobo-making-lunch

Bobo making lunch

Johnny-and-Marie-looking-up

Johnny and Marie looking up

Paolo-Sharon-and-Roberto

Paolo, Sharon and Roberto

2. Ka'ilio Point, Haena

Kailio Point, Haena

7. Teri and Emma

Teri and Emma

All images © John Wehrheim

via Mutant Space

  • bucka001

    A lot of them were on welfare and food stamps, so they were getting help from “normal” society.

  • Ras Tinny

    True you have a point but regardless there are many many small aboriginal societies that live more sustainable lives than we do in the West. The system we live in is not invaluable. It is utterly exploitative to both humans and ecosystems and we only kept it going with ‘outside’ supports through colonialization slavery and incredible emvironmental devastation in far away places where we coveniently close our eyes for. We do urgently need to eradicate the model of development and construct a more sustainable model. The models of the hippies may not have been good enough or sustainable enough but it was one of the few early western attempts to express that something was profoundly wrong with the current model and that their was a need to rethink. If we had listened maybe some of the irrepairable damage to our ecosystems could have been prevented?

  • bucka001

    Within those small aboriginal societies there are very happy and very unhappy people. Within our western societies there are very happy and very unhappy people. Now what?

  • Matan Selig

    yeah you just described slavery… not only for you… for your kids to…

  • bucka001

    Please explain

  • Matan Selig

    they have done it wrong living on others… but there is a right way and the whole world need to find it together and separately each one.
    most of people continue to safer in the world an till a change will be absolutely necessary.

  • bucka001

    “there is a right way and the whole world need to find it together”; But until that time, this is the society we’re presented with, it’s just the way it is, so best to make a living doing something you (hopefully) like so you can support yourself and a family if need be. Wouldn’t you agree? I’m just not seeing how this line of thinking is all that controversial unless one just hates the idea of working for a living.

  • Ras Tinny

    Now what? I suggest we go for the option with the least damage to our ecosystems. Makes sense to me since we can not live without functioning ecosystems at least lets not destroy them.

  • bucka001

    Ok, let’s do it. Now what, how do we get started?

  • Ras Tinny

    Hmm best question lol…ok I guess Education. Teach wider range of skills with bit more emplasis on skills like sustainable farming building and maintaining sustainable living slaces. Wean our self from fossil fuels faster than we try now. Planning: move from mega cities to smaller increasingly self sustaining communities… politics more decentralised power and including environmetal protections in our constitutions.. few things I can think off any ideas your self?

  • bucka001

    Nah, and I was being a bit tounge-in-cheek. But I do honestly appreciate your earnestness. I’m just surprised at the negative responses I was getting (not necessarily from you) for suggesting that one should work for a living in order to support oneself and his/her family. To me, that’s a no brainer.

  • Ras Tinny

    Yeah of course you have to work and probably much more than the 36 hour work week… but it could be more fulfilling work. Nature does not give any thing for free.

  • Ras Tinny

    Good to have that conversation though. And to start thinking about how and what further.. bless

  • Ras Tinny

    No that is not communism..ensuring maximum environmental sustainability is far from communism.

  • Ras Tinny

    No that is simply not true. The Anoriginal Bushmen and other societies have done just fine without monetary motivation. Money is not a necessity in fact its part of the problem.. with money come markets with markets come unfair market regulation and all the nonsense we have today. The free market is a myth. No market exists on this planet that is free all markets are regulated by people with power and the purpose of regulation is to manipulate the effect of supply and demand as to make it benefit particular people.

  • Andrea Cronrod

    Testing

  • Andrea Cronrod

    I lived there for five years and some of those photos were mine those days were the forefront of present times where people are looking for community peace and harmony it wasn’t perfect but what is I had outside jobs and made money and I know one man who came a hippie and is now a millionaire or thereabouts

  • I lived in this tree house 2 years ago !

  • Darwin Holmstrom

    I wouldn’t mind living in the Hippy Tree House Village, circa 1969. I’m sure it smelled strongly of balls, but I’d get used to that after a day or so.

  • Ron Rodarte

    The society Chuck defends is directly responsible for drug wars, massive incarceration of populations, the destruction of education system, and the destruction of the family system – except for an impossible paternalistic framework that denies freedom to females. Consider the beauty that is in all of us before the words of malice are gushing from your keyboard. And by the way, the drug scene was a promotion of the US Government, who had a mission in Greenwich Village in the 1950-1960’s handing out LSD to all takers as their military funded experiment. Following up, the Reagan CIA developed cocaine routes into the USA and sold cocaine to communities of color for guns to ship to Nicaragua. A “productive” member of society? I think not. I’d so much rather be in the company of loving peers than a productive member of a criminal society.

  • Chuck

    I realize the Man is out to get you! But these people aren’t funding your liberal brethren that need handouts in the form of tax dollars. How will the climate change hoax( it’s has been warming and cooling for 4 billon years)maintain it’s momentum without tax dollars! You need to be a team player, Ron.

  • Ron Rodarte

    Sorry Chuck. I wasn’t aware of the complications of a mind so indoctrinated to the outer edges of disfunction. I wasn’t aware of the complete and total knowledge sufficient to really and truly believe (falsely) that 99% of scientific evidence that indicts mankind for global warming is a special hoax on the likes of you, but you know best, special one. Go play with your team and wear a helmet.

  • Chuck

    How much should we spend to solve your mythical crisis? Shouldn’t we obliterate China and India? Not one of the 99% of the scientist you quote conclude that any actions we take will override the warming cycle we are in. Not one! Shouldn’t we bottle this warming technology….the next Ice Age is right around the corner…fool!

  • kapena16

    Ha ha ha….spoken like a true anti-western, socialist. The “evils of capitalism” may be out there, but it has also raised the well being of millions across the planet, a truism people like you always dismiss. The countries of the world that suffer the worst poverty do so under the dictatorial regimes of communism or some other totalitarian rule. North Korea is a wonderful example. Yes indeed, American and European countries certainly have their problems and they are right there in the window for all to see. But if you think living in some back water hell hole in Africa is a better arrangement, or China, or a number of other countries, you are welcome to go there and good for you. Oh yes, perhaps the billions of foreign aid Europe and the USA hand out each year to those same countries (because we have such ‘extra wealth’) might be held back, don’t you think?? It would be hypocritical for anyone to willing accept money from that which you so despise. BTW…when was the last time anyone fled a western country to live in North Korea, or Sudan, or China….get it yet?

  • Elaine Fisher Manning

    Nobody truly believes in War … unfortunately, Freedom ISN’T free. Those who fought in wars and serve in the military are the ones keeping America safe … so that people who wish to live a “hippie” lifestyle have freedom to do so. God Bless Our Troops.

  • John

    Bob, what’s the largest “industry” in the world? I can’t recall if it’s military materials or tourism…pretty good combo, no? And General Dynamics is about “infromation security”??? Huh. Last I checked GEneral Dynamics was built up around military hardware and today the “securing” of infrastructure and data is a key area of “defense” spending. Wisen up. Open your eyes, man

  • J9

    So once we’ve all beaten our swords into plowshares and are all farming and living in some kind of hippie paradise, what is your plan for stopping the Chinese from simply taking it all away? Flash ’em the peace sign and hope for the best? The world you dream of is gone, never to return.

  • Ras Tinny

    Hippie paradise is not feasible with colonial era national borders. It is not exclusive but inclusive and includes all. ‘The Chinese’ will be part of the hippie paradise.

  • J9

    Since you’re just dreaming, why not go bigger? Where are the zero-emission flying cars that run on sunshine and the singing birds that will help us get dressed in the morning?

  • Eat Me, FFace

    I can smell the B.O. through the internet.

  • Ras Tinny

    Would not call that ‘bigger’. I dont dream of cars and I can dress my self…

  • longoman

    Oh my! 1969 was the turning point for me after experiencing marijuana, mingling with the bands, getting new motorcycle, and making love. Life was simple then.

  • aliendreams

    I lived in a commune and had my first child there in 1972. The ideals were wonderful. Most of the people were wonderful. But the actual day to day living experience was a disappointment because many of the members thought it was just a way to be ‘free’ – as in freeholders/leeches – without taking any responsibility of actually making a commune work.
    In other words, a lot of people who came just wanted a free ride without helping to make the commune flourish, work and exist. I’m not sorry it failed. I’m glad I had a chance to try to make a better way of life for me, my child and all of the people I truly cared about.
    Users and abusers ruined the possibility of a better world, a kinder
    world, a utopia where everyone cared about each other, not what each
    person could get solely for themselves…

    I just wish the folks who came there had come for the communal ideals, wanting to make a positive change in our society and not the shabby excuse to use and abuse the freedom and generosity that was offered without any sort of expectation or reciprocity in return.

  • aliendreams

    I am a ‘hippie’. I lived in a commune in Michigan and had my 1st child there. I left it because a lot of people in our group did not want to work to make it prosper. They just wanted to be freeloaders, take what was around and available and never reciprocate, never replenish what was gone.

    My S/O and I left the commune and later on ended up getting married. I have never regretted leaving the commune. It was dead on it’s feet for a long time before we left.

    My S/O became a PHD chemical engineer and I chose – key word here – ‘CHOSE’ to stay at home and raise our 2 children. My health took a turn for the worse so staying home was the perfect option for me.

  • stewart_street

    Was there any record ever made of who lived at Taylor Camp? A very dear friend of mine who passed away a few years ago used to tell me of his time living on Kauai, and mentioned Taylor Camp, but was never clear as to whether he lived there or just near there. He was a big ol’ Texan by the name of Dale.

  • Tim Cohen

    Good one Kenji

  • Tim Cohen

    PHAHCK you and all hip-farts

  • Tim Cohen

    BW – you are correct sir.

  • patmyass

    What’s so scary is that the 60’s hippies are now running the government. See how well that’s working out. 90 percent of the strife and trouble going on now in the world is caused by Muslim extremists. You almost can’t point to anywhere that there is trouble and not find some Muslim group behind it. The USA, Russia and every civilized country in the world could lay down their arms tomorrow and it wouldn’t make one lick of difference.

  • Michael Howell

    Wonderful

  • I think money goes all way up and down to some point. And i admit money
    are necessary(because they exist, its obvious), but as much as you can
    imagine. You can of course live with your parents, it doesnt mean its
    not a way of life without money. You can live from 2 dollars a day like
    maybe half o of population of earth? Yes you can. So its not about
    system, system is something you are not within. Its illlusion. We are
    talking about illusion. But war truly exists and truly people die for
    someone else sake, they dont fight for themselves mostly, but for
    reasons of power. Thats the point most discussion is here about. And if
    you argument with something which was here in biblical times, you just
    dont prove anything, its only an excuse, meaning you are stuck and stiff
    in your mind and dont want to accept other possibilities. . I lived in a commune in Michigan and had my 1st child there. I left it because a lot of people in our group did not want to work to make it
    prosper. They just wanted to be freeloaders, take what was around and
    available and never reciprocate, never replenish what was gone.
    My s/o and I left the commune and later on ended up getting married. I
    have never regretted leaving the commune. It was dead on it’s feet for a
    long time before we left. :]

    Artlantis Studio 5 Activation Code

  • Patrick Donegan

    a little google does wonders:
    http://www.taylorcampkauai.com/live/

  • Patrick Donegan

    “taylor Camp”

  • HEP51

    – And keep you contact with these peoples ? What did they become ?
    I’m asking me, can we live like this during a long time ?
    Avez vous garder des contacts avec les occupants du camp ? Que sont-ils devenus ?
    Je me demande s’il est possible de vivre ainsi durant une longue période.

  • Ras Tinny

    There are many many sustainable living peoples in the earth Jungles from South America and other jungles. Most of them are hunter gatherers some sustain their diet by small scale agriculture. If their ecosystems are not interupted by Western Style development they life relatively happy and healthy lives.

  • Dani Seakey Brand

    Roger Smith, Debbie Green, David Klemz, Painter Dave, Tom Reese’s, Dangerous Dan, Mustang Mike, BJ Inga and Hydro, Deerfoot, Souix, Mechanic Mike, Bobo, Clancy (Captain Zodiak) , Doug Rhodes, Mike Senna, Kima, Morning Sun, Chip Robinson, Don May, and the memories have started to fade but the spirit of the paradise dream still live on in me. It was the greatest experience of my life without any doubt as good as it gets,

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