|Bill Pester at this palm log cabin in Palm Canyon,
California, 1917. With his "lebensreform" philosophy, nudism and raw foods diet,
he was one of the many German immigrants, who "invented" the hippie lifestyle
more than half a century before the 1960s. He left Germany to avoid military
service in 1906 at age 19, for a new life in America. (Photo Courtesy of Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs,
He made his own sandals, had a wonderful collection of Indian pottery and artifacts, played slide guitar, lived on raw fruits and vegetables and managed to spend most of his time naked under the California sunshine.
Seven of California’s “Nature Boys” in Topanga Canyon, August 1948. They were the first generation of Americans to adopt the “naturemensch” philosophy and image, living in the mountains and sleeping in caves and trees, sometimes as many as fifteen of them at a time. All had visited and some were employed at “The Etropheon” where John Richter gave his inspiring lectures about raw foods and natural living.
This magnificently illustrated book chronicles the philosophy, lifestyle and dissemination of Lebensreform, (Life Reform – “neither communism nor capitalism, but land reform”). In reaction to industrialization, from Hermann Hesse and the artist Fidus wanderings through pre-WW1 Germany in edenic bliss to Bill Pester going natural in a Palm Springs canyon. Pester, a German born immigrant, was counted in the 1920 census as one of the 24 members of the Cahuilla tribe.
These pics look like they're straight out of the 60's, but they're from approx. 1917. (Pester moved to the USA in 1906.)
Pester met a young American named Eden Ahbez (who eschewed capital letters) and became ahbez's 'mentor'. Ahbez and the other young Americans who followed Pester called themselves 'nature boys' (a loose translation of naturmenschen). In 1948, ahbez wrote a song about Pester and called it 'Nature Boy'. Nat King Cole recorded it, which drew media attention to ahbez. He appears briefly in this clip followed by footage from another TV show in which Cole performs the song. [video fehlt!]
The nature boys received some attention also from Jack Kerouac's reference to them in On the Road. And they became well-known in California simply because of their distinctive a
This story has been told before (esp. at the links in the previous paragraph) but I wasn't aware of it until I looked up Monte Verità.