Seattle's first Be-In is held in Cowen Park on April 1, 1967.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 6/20/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8188

On April 1, 1967, Seattle's first Be-In is held in Cowen Park when a crowd of about 300 people gather to mourn the closure of The Bookworm, a bookstore and hippie hangout in the University District. The picnic is ringed by police cars filled with cops in riot gear, but the event is peaceful and proper.

Banned of Brothers 

Besides being a bookstore, The Bookworm was an informal day-care center for dispossessed hippies and homeless kids run by Jack and Sally Delay. The Delays formed a group called “The Brothers,” modeled after “The Diggers,” who fed and counseled street people in San Francisco. 

When The Brothers operation was evicted from the Bookworm on March 31, they planned a “wake” at Cowen Park before relocating to their new offices on Roosevelt Avenue. Hundreds of hippies made their way to the park for a picnic, and a nice day in the sun. 

Police were suspicious of The Brothers, mistakenly believing them to be a front for LSD distribution, and sent in plenty of cops in riot gear to keep an eye on the gathering. But, by and large, the crowd was peaceful and relaxed. 

Human Be-In 

Surrounded by police cars, the hippies shared food, played chess, and strummed guitars. Many of the picnickers had painted faces and wore flowers in their hair. There was plenty of food and drink, and no booze. No laws were broken, and as one member of The Brothers described it, “We’re just being ourselves.” 

By the end of the afternoon, the hippies had dispersed. Some of them made their way to th Attica Gallery on Capitol Hill for the opening of an art exhibit by the Shazam Society, entitled “First Official Exhibit of UFOs (Unidentified Funky Objects), Awesome Images Show, Better-Living Through Sausages Display, and Brain Damage Festival. Shazam founder Tom Robbins dedicated the art show to “the tender and loving overthrow of established culture and to committing public and private acts of beauty, love, and mystery.”


Sources: “First Human Be-In Sways Few Hippies,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 2, 1967, p. 26; “Now People Glimpse the UFOs at Attica,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 2, 1967, p. 26; Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), pp. 57, 65, 76.

Related Topics:   Fairs & Festivals | Music & Musicians

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