Mixsonian Larry

Smoking Marijuana in 1974

Smoking Joint

Since smoking marijuana that first time back in 1971, by ’74 I was smoking it regularly.  Marijuana, or “pot” as we called it, generally came in ounce baggies although there were a few times my friend Jim and I got a full pound (16 oz) that came in a gallon size baggie.  Pot in the 70’s was a mixture of buds and leaf with the better pot having more bud and little leaf.  Names were giving to the types of pot like Panama Red, or Columbian Gold which was mostly beautiful golden buds, while some of the poorest was Mexican Stink Weed which had more leaf.  The buds had seeds which needed to be removed before smoking.  A few years later sinsemilla, which didn’t have seeds, started to become available, although more potent, was considerably more expensive.  In the process of removing the seeds and stems you would lose 10% or so, but the better it was cleaned, the smoother it smoked as seeds were harsh. After cleaning the pot of seeds and stems, I would store it in 35mm film canasters. Generally pot was rolled into cigarettes for smoking, or “joints” as they were called.  This became a skill gained over time and how well it was rolled was noticed when you pulled out a joint to smoke with friends.  It is not as easy as it looks when Clint Eastwood did it sitting on horseback in old westerns.  Cigarette papers are tissue thin and easily tear when rolling, a good quality rolling paper helped with brands like Zig-Zag being popular.  You could buy cigarette papers at any 7-11 where popular brands always on display at the checkout counter.  I remember being a little nervous the first time I bought some, I was like, “Will they think I’m buying them for smoking pot.” But of course they did, that’s why they there, no one bought them to roll tobacco cigarettes.

Pipe and stone My stone pipe and roach stone fron the 70's

Another paraphernalia thing you needed was a roach clip or roach stone as they were called after the last bit of a smoked joint looked like a roach.  Unlike regular cigarettes, joints didn’t have a filter at the end so to smoke the last bit of the joint, which you wanted as the last bit is always the strongest, but to keep from burning your fingers it was best to hold it with Alligator clipssomething, a roach clip. All sorts of things were used for roach clips, in a pinch you could use a paper clip. Alligator clips were popular with the simplest being the plain alligator clip that you could get in a six pack at Radio Shack. But there were fancy ones with, telescoping handles, decorated with feathers or beads, and so on. My favorite roach clips were surgical forceps which I forcepshappen to have several from my days of working at Shands Hospital.  An alternative to the roach clip were roach stones which were about the size of a half dollar with a hole through them. Small pipes were also popular and easier than rolling joints but were more for individual use as they didn’t hold as much pot as a joint.

Glass BongGlass Bong

Man smoking hookahThen there was the Bong.  Bongs are like hookahs, which have been around for centuries in the Middle East, but without the long tube.  A bong is a tube or flask filled with water with a small tube coming out from the side in which you put your pot.  After lighting the pot, you place your mouth on the larger opening and inhale causing the pot smoke to bubble up through the water.  The nice thing about a bong is it cooled and filtered the smoke, something which was nice when you had low quality pot like Mexican Stink Weed which burned harshly.  You also could put ice in the water or other liquids like wine adding additional flavor to the smoke.  Bongs, being large and bulky, were typically used at home or at parties.  You could always recognize a person new to bongs when they inhaled, the smoke being filtered and cool, they would take too much and would spend the next few minutes coughing.

There was a whole cottage industry making paraphernalia which you would typically go to what was known as a “head shop”, the best one in Gainesville being the Subterranean Circus. I remember the first time I entered the store.  I had been smoking pot for a while with friends and noticed their roach clips, stones, pipes and bongs and asked where they got them, and they said the Subterranean Circus and so I decided to go check it out.  I was a little nervous about going there especially since I didn’t want any of my church friends to find out I was going to such a place. The Circus was a few blocks from the University, so I drive there and park on a side street a couple block from the store as I didn’t want people to see my ’68 Camaro in Circus parking lot. After parking I walk to the store, open the front door and enter.  It was a bit  overwhelming, the smell of incense hung heavily in the air, I look around and see the store was filled with hippy stuff.  Every inch of the walls was filled with posters, many glowing under black lights. There were racks of hippy clothes, dresses, Nehru jackets, sandals, belts and other leather goods. Shelves were filled with strobe lights, black lights, underground newspapers, magazines and comic books,  peace signs, waterbeds, and candles.  And then there was the  paraphernalia, shelves filled with bongs, pipes, roach clips, roach stones, a whole display case of rolling papers, there must have been a hundred different brands.  I nervously look around and head over to the shelves and pick out a small pipe, a roach stone and a couple packs of rolling papers. After paying for them I quickly leave and head back to my car.  I would go back to the Subterranean Circus a couple more times before I moved away from Gainesville.

Updated: 08-21-2023