Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Happy Shak—A Throwback Hippy’s Haven on the Beach

“For Sale!?”  Good God, NO!  It couldn’t be. Not an icon of the most blissful season of my life—what was I to do if this were true?  What did it all mean? 

I almost hadn’t come, dreading to resurrect the memories I had long since quite effectively  buried.  But, as Fate would have it, a series of mishaps had sent me back retracing bits of the path he and I had trekked a few years earlier, and there I was, and there it wasn’t.  

Then I saw it.  The sign.

There is always a sign.  We don’t always see them, and we often deny their significance when we do.  Takes strength to acknowledge them for what they are and to allow them to guide us towards our destinies.

 I’ve heard tell tale that some folks don’t lend credence to omens.  Winged clouds that appear at dawn are not angels, they say, just rosy colored vapor lofting from the eucalyptus fields.   I, however, know better.  For signs DO exist—and there one was right before my eyes.

I had been standing there in the parking lot off Route 59 in Gulf Shores, Alabama in front of a psychedelic building scratching my head in disbelief, thinking sarcastically to myself that this must be the reason my new found bliss was so short lived—because the B&L’s Happy Shak—“Home of the Free Hugs”-- had closed its doors shortly after our visit.  That explains EVERYTHING, I had justified.  Until I spied an 8”x10” sheet of paper taped to the door advising those interested in finding the relocated Shak to cruise up the highway another five miles.

Hallalluya!  Life IS good!  

I beamed as I walked through the door right back to my Nag Champa and tie-dye infused adolescence.  Mood rings and Puka beads, Indian silk paisley “Deadhead” wrap skirts and rainbow crocheted berets, patchwork shoulder sling bags and hand dipped candles, hemp jewelry and Woodstock posters, pipes and flutes and musk oil—YES! 

In 2007, parents of a crew of six, B&L—Brian and Liz—decided to open their “Original Hippie Boutique” to add some spice to their lives.  They had found a clapboard cottage near the beach, slapped on a fresh multi-colored coat of paint and stocked the shelves with unique items reminiscent of the Groovesters Generation.   They rapidly gained a solid clientele, some who would travel the country to visit the jovial lovebirds and their spiraldelic tinker wagon.  Then, apparently—shortly after my first visit--Walmart wanted their lot for overflow parking and their lease was terminated.  B&L pulled up stakes and moved north a few miles.  And business has been booming as never before.

Wal-Mart, it should be noted, changed its mind and so the original Shak stands vacant serving as a sentinel, guiding die-hard followers to the new, bigger, better shop up the highway.  

I left town, past the “Fried Gizzards…the Secret to Life” billboard, with my newly acquired mood ring rolling from jade into turquoise into lavender.  Some things, some things are just meant to be and there just isn’t a single thing that can’t dispel or avert their existence.   

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