Ken Kesey & The Merry Pranksters

On the Bus pages

On the Bus

Ken Babbs and Paul Berry New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1996. Alderman Library, University of Virginia.

"You're either on the bus, or you're off the bus," became the metaphor for the Merry Pranksters and was repeated endlessly (you had to be there) on the long and now famous cross-country journey in the psychedelic bus, Furthur. After picking up Allen Ginsberg in New York City, they headed to Millbrook, New York to pay a visit to the other early promoter of LSD, Timothy Leary. Leary had set up the Castalia Foundation to explore the psychological and spiritual complexities of LSD use, and the Institute was located on the grounds of a mansion owned by William Hitchcock, a colleague of Leary's at Harvard. The Prankster Bus rolled up the long driveway unannounced, the Pranksters throwing green smoke bombs from the roof, blasting their crude music, and shouting from the windows. The visit was not the communal success Kesey had imagined. Leary briefly met the Pranksters, sat on the bus for a few minutes, and then retired to his room. The following day, the bus roared off and headed west. Shown is a picture of the Merry Pranksters on the porch at the Millbrook Mansion.

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