Did Johnstown have hippies?

Local News
Rosetti Vs. The Man_

The Johnstown Area Heritage Association and the Cambria County Library System are working together to present a panel discussion and a concert to commemorate the 50th anniversary of 1967’s “The Summer of Love.” Both are free and open to the public.

The panel discussion, “Did Johnstown Have Hippies?”, will take place on Wed., Aug. 9 at the Heritage Discovery Center. Panelists will include Jack Roscetti, Denny Regan, Ernie Petersen, and J.D. Griffith, and will be moderated by Richard Burkert, JAHA president, and Laryssa Duncan of the Cambria County Library.

The post-World War II “baby boom” generated an unprecedented number of potentially disaffected young people as prospective participants in a rethinking of the direction of American society. The hippie movement was part of a larger counter-culture. After January 14, 1967 Human Be-In, 100,000 young people from all over the world went to celebrate San Francisco’s “Summer of Love.”

The cultural trends spread through the U.S., resulting in the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and counter-culture outbreaks across the U.S. and in Johnstown. As members of the hippie movement grew older and moderated their lives and their views, and especially after US involvement in the Vietnam War ended in the mid-1970s, the counterculture was largely absorbed by the mainstream, leaving a lasting impact on philosophy and spirituality, morality, music, art, alternative health and diet, lifestyle and fashion.

“The hippie movement was felt nationwide, including right here in Johnstown,” said Richard Burkert, president of JAHA, who attended Woodstock as a teenager. “The panel discussion will certainly be lively and interesting to anyone who lived through it, or for anyone who’s curious about those times.”

Panel topics will include:

  • Local hangouts and local bands – The Cage Nightclub, located on Scalp Avenue, an under-21 club featured local bands and go-go girls in a cage. 
  • Conflicts with authority: including school, parents, police. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago was an influence on protests that happened in Johnstown (including the one where Jack Roscetti was arrested, as the enclosed photo shows).
  • Views on Vietnam War
  • How the movement changed American culture directly and indirectly
  • Use of marijuana, LSD, and other recreational drugs
  • Communes: there were communes in Bedford and surrounding area
  • The legacy of the hippie movement

In addition, Jack Roscetti will show items from his collection of 1960s memorabilia.

To conclude the programming, the Desperadoes will play a concert in the Heritage Discovery Center courtyard at 7:00 pm on Sat., Aug. 12. Their setlist will feature music of the 60s and 70s.

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