San Francisco Chronicle: Jay Thelin, whose Psychedelic Shop set the stage for S.F. Summer of Love, dies at 84

In jail for drug possession, Jay Thelin was regrettably unable to attend the San Francisco funeral procession that marked the Death of the Hippie. But he was there for the birth of it.

Thelin and his older brother Ron ran the Psychedelic Shop in Haight-Ashbury, the retail focal point for the Summer of Love in 1967. When that brief and overhyped utopian scene became a major bummer and was declared over with a parade on Oct. 6, 1967, a symbolic wooden coffin was carried on the shoulders of mourners through the neighborhood to Buena Vista Park.

KRON-TV News report from San Francisco in c1968, featuring brief scenes of the Thelin brothers (who run the Psychedelic Shop in Haight-Ashbury) reflecting on the counter-culture movement. Ron Thelin states: “I think San Francisco is the holy city. I think it’s going to be the Mecca of the west.” Ends with Jay Thelin recommending that parents should try “turning on” (getting high) with their children.

Jan. 3, 1966 – The Psychedelic Shop Opens on Haight Street

In the mid-1960s, the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco became the epicenter of America’s emerging new counterculture—attracting hippies by the thousands from all over the country looking to smoke weed, take LSD, and “tune in, turn on, and drop out.” Two such hippies were brothers Jay and Ron Thelin from Oakland who—after seeing a lecture by Tim Leary‘s Harvard colleague & psychedelic partner Richard Alpert in 1964—tripped on acid and were inspired to open a store catering to the counterculture crowd.

On January 3, 1966, they opened The Psychedelic Shop at 1535 Haight Street—selling hippie clothing and jewelry, incense, records, posters, books, magazines, and of course, drug paraphernalia. Right away, the Shop became a hippie hotspot—serving as a hub for drug culture and information (and sales), and a hangout for radical activists groups like The Diggers (an anarchist street theater troupe).

Later that year (on Nov. 15), the Shop was raided by police, and Ron Thelin was arrested—leading to the longest trial in the city’s history. Due to a fire and declining business, Thelin eventually closed The Psychedelic Shop permanently on October 6, 1967, and gave away their remaining inventory.

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