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1983 - Out of the Closet


In 1983, we came out of the closet. Many of us who thought of ourselves as new-agers stopped “hiding our light under a bushel” and became more vocal about our beliefs. We stopped caring so much about being socially acceptable and started speaking out more about the issues close to our hearts. Many of us traveled spiritual paths that were still considered more than a little left of center and we stopped pretending. It was time to get real.

New age papers validated our growing awareness that it was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Our numbers swelled and we began to impact the local economy with our holistic businesses and our checkbooks.

I could write a book on 1983 alone, but I won't. I'll just give you the highlights here. New age publications were showing up all around town, and not just in Gainesville.

Paul Hoffman’s The Last New Age Calendar appeared in stores in September, 1983. A month later the Gainesville Daily Planet entered the scene with LIBRE’s Dottie Zavada as “Publisher and Grand Sorceress.” Istvan compiled the local calendar, while Lee Glancey and Sharon Woodruff did the word processing. Oma, an entity channeled by Frankie Z. Avery, was the token non-human on the staff.


In May, 1983, while working as the office manager of Trinity United Methodist Church, I launched a quarterly called New Age gainesville, with the help of my husband, Gordon Greenwood, Dottie Zavada, artist son Richard Greenwood, Lonnie Lockett, Ronni Gardner, and Mary Masidonski.

Michele Rippey wrote about “The Celebration” for my first issue. I typed the entire paper on an IBM Selectric typewriter and made ads by hand. No home computer yet.
New people took out ads which got us to Reiki by Andy Weisberg, Soul Therapy by Alma Rose, Massage Therapy by Fay Young, Jere Herrington, and Olivia Stryker, and Peter Bensen’s Guild for Structural Psychosynthesis. We started shopping for natural fibre clothes at Harmony and Lotus, and at Spirit, and some of us became vegetarians around that time, bought our first Birkenstocks, and started eating at New Harvest.

We began to find an abundance of groups to explore, including Bob Scott’s A.R.E. (Association for Research and Enlightenment) Study Group focusing on Edgar Cayce’s work. I think Gordon and I only went once but it was enough to make us want to head to Virginia Beach to check out the main A.R.E center, so we did. Their metaphyical library was the largest we had ever seen at that time and we bought lots of Cayce books as well as other mind-expanding works. Two of them turned out to be pivotal pieces for my future as a new age networker, but I didn’t know it then. I was still searching for my true path and had no idea I was on it.

I still have the two favorite books I bought that day in Virginia Beach. The first one is the 1980 book, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s by Marilyn Ferguson that further convinced me we were not alone in the matrix of transformation. Something was happening but I knew not what.

The other was a 1982 book by Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps called Networking: The First Report and Directory. It stirred something deep inside me that I couldn’t define and literally changed my life. We could have spent the whole vacation at the A.R.E., but Gordon had to get back to being a UF professor and I had to play my role as secretary to the Rev. Dean Martin at Trinity Methodist. You might enjoy the A.R.E.’s website. There’s an interesting video about how to use their labyrinth.

Some of the ads in that premiere issue of N.A.G. introduced us to people we hadn’t met yet, like the folks at P’nai Or (Kabbalistic mystical tradition), Brian Morgan at the Gurdjieff Reading Group, Humanist Joe Courter, Iguana newspaper editor), ISKCON (Krishna Consciousness), and Sat Nam Singh Khalsa of Kundalini Yoga .

During this time we attended our long-lasting Seth Group at Royane and Ric Mosley's home. We met Dr. David Saltzman in Micanopy (The Next Step), Vicky Wood's Science of Mind Study Group in Lake Butler, Pam DeWitt (Self-Realization Fellowship, Teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, and attended Sai Baba Satsang at Mike and Lee Glancey’s lovely home, and went to the Yoga Center of Gainesville (Yogi Amrit Desai teachings).

We had the School of Tai Chi Chuan, Tai Chi Chuan for Women at Dragon Gate Studio, and Tai Chi Chuan Temple Style at LIBRE Center.

We often met friends at a delicious restaurant on SW 35th Boulevard in Butler Plaza called Cathay Tea House. It was opened in 1976 by Genia Lee (Hines) who was born and raised in Taiwan. The food was exquisite and it was the only Chinese restaurant where we could get brown rice at the time. Genia's dream of publishing her own cookbook was realized in the 1980s with the release of The Cuisine of Cathay.

That reminded me of another old Gainesville restaurant, the Beef and Bottle at 5220 SW 13 Street, close to the northern border of Paines Prairie Preserve State Park. It was a 520-seat restaurant with the first mega salad bar in G’ville. It was very popular for its live entertainment. It will be forever etched in my mind as the place where we saw a new entertainer for the first time who did this stand-up arrow-through-the-head routine - yup, the newbie was a very young and playful Steve Martin.

One night he invited around 50 people from the audience to hide behind bushes on U.S. 441 at closing time while Steve pretended to hitchhike. Every time a car stopped, the 50+ people jumped out and rushed the car. I guess you had to be there. I wasn't, but everyone at work was talking and laughing about it the next day. The Beef and Bottle became the Brown Derby in 1977. It lasted until 1994 when it could no longer compete with the restaurants popping up all along Archer Road. I still miss that salad bar.

Please forgive me if I left you out. I didn’t even get to ask you if you were in the audience when they performed Hair: An American Tribal Love Rock Musical here. When was that trip back in time to the idealistic, psychedelic days of the 1960s anyway?

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