1960s, 1970S, California, Counter Culture, Drug Paraphernalia, Drugs, Farming, Flower Children, Hippies, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Marijuana, Uncategorized


© PJ Hayward 2010
First Published 2011 by Hold On Publications
Revised © PJ Hayward, New York 2014

Long ago when I was in my early twenties, I was living in an area of Los Angeles called Silverlake.  Among the rising and falling Silverlake hills, flourishing treescapes and other vegetation fill every crack and crevice with lush and verdant greenery.  It’s a beautiful area to live and many of the homes and apartments afford magnificent views of the city below.

At the time, I lived in a house built right into the side of a big hill.  My friend and I were renting a tiny downstairs apartment consisting of a small front room, a miniscule kitchen, a good sized walk-in closet and a little backyard. The front room had a huge picture window that framed the spectacular city lights far below.  The upper level, which had once been the main part of the house, was rented out to another young couple.

When we first moved in and I started hanging things up in the walk-in closet I noticed on one of the walls, installed about 3 feet above the floor, a small wooden door.  It was painted shut so I couldn’t open it right away, but we figured it must be a small storage area.

Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I chiseled the paint out, got the door open and shone my flashlight inside. WHOA!!!!!  

What to my wondering eyes should appear but an enormous crawlspace revealing the entire underside of the house, which ascended like a ceiling above the bare dirt floor.  Not only that but I could see by the light of my flashlight that there were several work lights hung up in there, so obviously the space was electrified.  AND, being a huge pothead at the time my thoughts immediately flew to “Weed Farm!!!”

I went right down to my favorite Head Shop.  (In the 60’s and 70’s, Head Shops were little shops where you could buy all kinds of smoking supplies and paraphernalia as well as underground publications you couldn’t find elsewhere.  You could easily find stuff such as Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book”, Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul on Ice” and many other counter-culture and off-beat books and publications that could not be found in conventional book stores back in those days.)

Among the pamphlets and papers I found a thin, illustrated beginner’s guide to growing weed.  It explained exactly how to start off the seeds, how to nurture the seedlings and distinguish male from female and it described how to carefully prune and fertilize your plants.  Also it gave you instructions on the proper setup and placement of Gro-Lights and everything else an amateur would need to try their hand at growing their own supply of herb.

With my little book in hand, I set out to become an indoor farmer.  From the ceiling of my closet farm I hung up a ton of florescent light fixtures fitted with Gro-lux bulbs.  These lights were attached to ropes so they could be lowered or raised according to the height of my plants.  I hung huge sheets of aluminum foil from the ceiling to the dirt floor, thus by using their reflective qualities, effectively doubling the amount of available light.

Finally, as though it were a simple decoration, I covered and hid the little door by hanging a small Turkish rug over it.  If you didn’t know the little door was there you would never guess in a million years.

Precisely following all the directions in the book, eventually I had a regular plantation growing under the house.  In time the plants were about 4 feet tall and were full, healthy and bursting with huge buds.  I figured we had about a year’s supply in there to keep us happy.

Now in the ’60s and ’70s there was no such thing as Digital, Wireless or Cell phones (well actually I think there was a sort of car-phone back then but it was about a foot long and weighed about 5 pounds and was wired to the car’s dashboard).  Back in the day EVERYTHING was wired – and what I didn’t know was that the phone lines for the apartment upstairs were located within that crawl space.  I had seen wires under there but I never thought anything about them.

One day, there was a knock at our front door.

It was the Telephone Man.

He said the tenants upstairs were having problems with their phone and he was looking for the main phone wires.  I guess this was his second unsuccessful repair attempt and he asked if we had the wires in our part of the house.   I said I had no idea.  So the guy asked to come in and take a look, which he did, but he found nothing and soon left.

In a few minutes he was back again.  His main office had contacted the Landlord of the house, who told them the wires were definitely somewhere inside my apartment.   He searched high and low again but still he couldn’t find a thing – so he asked to go look in the back yard.  Now from the back yard you could see under the house, so as he went out the back door I raced to turn off the Gro-lights.

The guy returned with a totally frustrated look on his face and this is what he said.  “Look Miss, please understand – I swear I’m not trying to give you a hard time – I’m just trying to do my job.  These people have been calling the phone company 3 or 4 times a day and complaining and I’m already under a warning for not being able to find the problem.  Miss, I saw a light go out underneath the house.  Honestly – I don’t care at all what you have under there – I just want to fix the problem and be on my way.  Can’t you please help me?”

Well – when he put it that way, I remembered all the job warnings I myself had received and also I now realized this issue was not going to go away.   If I didn’t help the guy fix the problem, a troop of other people would soon follow.  On top of that, the poor guy looked so pitiful – and I had actually gotten a very positive vibe from him – and he seemed like just a regular guy trying to do his job like he said.  So I don’t know what gave me the nerve but I said, “Well, alright then.”  I led him into the walk-in closet, unhooked the little rug from the wall and revealed the little door.  The guy said, “Ooh-h-h-h-h… okay.”

BUT, when I opened the door and turned on the lights, I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance.  The guy’s eyes bugged WAY out of his head, he fell back against the wall, grabbed his chest and started making these gurgling noises like “bub, blubbidym, bdmm-m.mm-bub..blubbidy..mumm…”.  No small wonder because aside from my farm of healthy, beautiful weed plants, the Gro-lights shone against all that foil with a kind of ultraviolet glow, permeating the space with this eerie, ghostly, lavender luminosity.

When the guy got over his shock, he climbed carefully into the farm, located the problem (a piece of foil that was touching a phone wire) and fixed it.  When he climbed out he was grinning from ear to ear.  He gave me a kind of little salute and thanked me for my trouble.  I asked the man if he would like to take something home with him but he said he never touched the stuff.

Needless to say, just to be on the safe side, my little farm met its demise immediately upon the exit of the Telephone Man.  We hurriedly got rid of every scrap of evidence except for the plants themselves, which we hid far away till they could be dried and stored for the coming months.  No one from the phone company (nor thankfully, the LAPD) ever bothered us again after that.

7 thoughts on “THE TELEPHONE MAN”

  1. Wow! What a colorful life you led. And how ingenious you were in creating your hidden garden. You were lucky that the telephone man never revealed what he discovered there. You seem to have adventure after adventure.


    1. lol! Boy you aren’t kidding I was lucky. Yes Rose, it’s true, I have been so blessed in my life to have either been just plain stupid or maybe adventurous but I did have many fun and some not so fun times. I have been very blessed and fortunate because I met so many wonderful people and learned so many things I would never have learned or known had I stayed in my safe cocoon at home. I haven’t ever traveled the world like so many of our friends in our classes, but I had my own adventures. Thank you Rose for always leaving some cheery comment for me. It means a lot and you mean a lot. Thank you.


    1. yes…lol! that’s why I write my stories, because I feel blessed to have lived an adventurous life. thank you, as always A, for supporting my site by visiting and appreciating my work… : )


  2. Great story thank you for sharing ,,,,It sound like. U knew what you Was doin I know you was excited to see ur experiment working ….. mr telephone man finally got his job done


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