ROGER CALKINS COME HOME!
Personal ad from the Berkeley Tribe (August 8, 1969).
Personal messages of the sort inquiring of the well-being of people like Roger Calkins was a semi-regular feature of the counter-culture periodicals of the 1960s. Worried that young, impulsive and perhaps ill-prepared youth ran away or went to join the various regional movements families and friend often placed personal ads in the papers and magazines that catered to a certain area’s demographics. Whoever placed this personal ad in a 1969 Berkeley counter-culture newspaper was confident, for example, that wherever he was Roger would not be reading the Wall Street Journal.
That some people “turned on, tuned in and dropped out” from mainstream culture in the 1960s is not surprising in itself. The alleged enlightened mystique of the counter-culture and social and peace movements, however mythical, was an opportunity for many to reject the status quo and oppressive stultifying “straight” culture of their parents.
In 2013 information is a bit easier to come by than it was in 1969 and sometimes you get lucky. A casual search for “Roger Calkins Kansas City” reveals that in the 1960s someone with that name and from Kansas City was in the early garage band The Fabulous Silvertones, which was inducted into the Kansas City Music Hall of Fame in 2007. The Roger in the band photo bears a similarity to the boy in the personal ad.
But are they the same person?
If so, what is Roger’s story? Did he up and leave Kansas City and try his hand at music or some other dream-avocation in Southern California? Abandoning the familiar for the new was particularly common in the 1960s. Did Roger leave for other, maybe more painful and personal reasons beyond leaving the nest or did he just get busy and lose touch with home? When did he return? There are more than a few personals of this type that come to abrupt dead ends.
I’m a cynical and marketing-minded type so I even fancied the idea that Roger placed the ad himself as an early form of low-cost, localized niche self-promotion. Was he jamming in a club and this personal ad was a way of getting people to look him up because they saw the notice in the paper and thanks, I called mom and by the way since you are here come listen to my band tonight and bring some friends? I sincerely doubt it but that’s something I could think of doing.
I also located a Roger Calkins on Facebook but I’ve decided not to directly inquire anything of him. The most recent update in his timeline was from April 2013 and he is apparently suffering from poor health. I hope he is doing alright. I’ll try to reach out to a family member who may be interested in the article but the social media they use doesn’t allow messaging and other forms of contact are defunct. So maybe they will see this post on their own. If they ever want to relate Roger’s tale or not, that will be okay. Either way I’d be satisfied with the mystery that my own goofing around with old 1960s periodicals has revealed. If nothing else I’m just glad to provide to the family a piece of perhaps important personal history they may not have been aware of.