National

Site of 1960s California commune becomes archeological dig

NOVATO — The '60s aren't dead. They're in an archaeological site north of San Francisco.

An old commune where the Grateful Dead and other bands used to romp is being excavated and items catalogued by state park archaeologists at Olompali State Historic Park.

Among the artifacts: the classic hippie beads, a marijuana "roach clip," fragments of tie-dyed clothes, and a reel-to-reel tape a Marin County studio technician has promised to try to restore.

They are the stuff of memories for Noelle Olompali-Barton, who was 16 when she and her showbiz mom plunged into California's new counterculture, retreating to this once-private ranch north of San Francisco to establish one of the first hippie communes.

The teenager baked bread to give away in Golden Gate Park. She sat with the Grateful Dead under an oak tree for a famous 1969 album photo.

For two intense, often drug-laced years, the commune nourished utopian dreams — and some bad trips, too, she said.

But never in her wildest hallucinations did the teen imagine that more than 40 years later, she would assist an archaeologist in identifying macrame headbands, old records and other commune artifacts retrieved from the abandoned ruins of her former home.

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

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