A High Point in Their Lives

A High Point in Their Lives
Posted by CN Staff on April 21, 2005 at 10:33:14 PT
By Paul Liberatore 
Source: Marin Independent Journal
California -- In the 1970s, a group of friends at San Rafael High School coined "420" as their secret smokers' slang for marijuana.Over the past three decades, 420 has grown like a weed into a grassroots phenomenon celebrated every April 20 (4/20) by pot users and advocates everywhere as a kind of underground Great American Smokeout.
Yesterday morning, the 420 tradition was being bandied about by a couple of San Francisco rock radio DJs, thereby alerting parents, albeit inadvertently, that their kids may be getting high at school."It's huge with the kids," said Corte Madera family therapist Larry Fritzlan, who runs a rehab program for teens with drug problems. "They all know about it." Originally, 420 had nothing to do with April 20 or any other date. In 1971, it was the time, 4:20 in the afternoon, when the Waldos, an informal club of a half-dozen San Rafael High boys, would meet after school at a statue of Louis Pasteur on campus and head off in search of a fabled pot patch in West Marin.Yesterday afternoon at 4:20, the Benny Bufano-created statue stood all alone, cordoned off by yellow construction tape during a renovation project at the school.There wasn't a student or a joint in sight, and campus supervisors said a reporter and photographer looking for a story were the only things that were out of the ordinary.In years past, one of the Waldos, now a 50-year-old head of a financial services company in San Francisco, would make a pilgrimage to the statue at 4:20 on 4/20 for old times sake. But he didn't have time for nostalgia yesterday."Today is Wednesday," he said. "It's pretty busy for us. I'll be really busy at 4:20."Two years ago, he and his fellow Waldos reunited at High Times magazine's Doobie Awards in New York City to present a lifetime achievement award to the New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Marin band that popularized the tokers' anthem "Panama Red."The Waldos theorize that their connection to the New Riders and the Grateful Dead had something to do with spreading 420 among young rock fans. It has since been used as a logo on hats, beer, a record label and other paraphernalia.High Times, which has proclaimed the Waldos as the originators of 420, posted on its Web site a number of 420 parties, concerts, fund-raisers and panel discussions on marijuana issues that were held yesterday in the U.S. and Canada, much to the amazement of the men who innocently started all this when they were young pot heads 34 years ago."It pops up every year," one said, insisting that 420 does not encourage marijuana use. At least that was never the intention. "It was nothing but a joke from the beginning," he said. "We still get laughs over it."The Waldos, who stay in touch and remain friends, have all become responsible citizens and family men with careers, mortgages, businesses and children. They've been interviewed on television, and by newspapers and magazines, but have never allowed their names to be used."I would rather have another claim to fame," said one Waldo, now 48, who runs a business in Marin, coaches Little League and has two kids. How would he feel about them smoking pot?"I'm not into the drug thing like I used to be back then," he said. "That's how we all are now. We all have kids, and if we have our choice, we'd rather not have them do it."Note: How band of San Rafael youths achieved pot-cult status in 1970s.Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA)Author: Paul Liberatore Published: Thursday, April 21, 2005 Copyright: 2005 Marin Independent JournalContact: opinion marinij.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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