The Egyptians are crazy. I know this because growing up there was a guy in my home town who claimed to be the reincarnation of Imhotep, the Egyptian polymath and first recorded architect and physician in history. Never mind that this reincarnation was also known as Freddy and had been kept at the Mendocino State Hospital until then Governor Regan closed it down. Low threat patients, like Freddy, were allowed to leave the hospital and take up residence in Ukiah where the newly instituted county health services would be responsible for his care. He lived in a rundown residential motel at the very south end of town.
Freddy was quite a colorful character and the subject of a poem I wrote for my English class senior year. He road a banana seat bicycle with streamers hanging off the handle bars. Often Freddy wore only shorts and a vest-- no shirt, with arm bands with streamers hanging off. He wore small circle specs like John Lennon and a head band. Everything about him screamed "hippy". The Ukiah summer sun tanned his skin into a dark leather.
Growing up one of my delights was seeing Freddy bike around town. If you honked a car horn or yelled to him he'd give you a peace sign. It was always fun. One of Freddy's more interesting eccentricities was enjoying sticking things up his rectum and subsequently having to go to the Adventist Hospital to have those things removed. Thus my high school poem was about him getting a Smucker's jam jar stuck up his ass (which is a true story retold to me by an ER nurse and family friend.)
I wish I had a copy of that poem to share.
Sorry-- my strongest trait is the ability to gyp. Blame it on my Roma blood*.
The only thing I really remember about the poem was the reoccurring line "push peddle, push peddle, push" and it being in an ABAB, CBCB, DBDB, EBEB, FBFB, GBGB rhyme scheme.
Fast ole Freddy went downtown
Push peddle, push peddle, push
If I meditate on it this week I might be able to remember the poem in its entirety.
The interesting thing about the Mendocino State Hospital and the release of it's patients was that a good number of them didn't even bother going into Ukiah-- instead they headed east of the hospital up Cow Mountain. To this day when human remains are found in that area the sheriff department doesn't rush out there because it's common knowledge most of the remains are from former patients. What I'm really saying is if you're going to commit a murder, it's a good spot to dispose of the body. Temperance Brennan from the Fox TV series "Bones" isn't going to be flown out to investigate.
lady I know, Martha, was interned at the hospital because she has
cerebral palsy and was bound to a wheelchair. Her family didn't want to
take care of her. She's got a very sharp mind but they wouldn't educate
her or even teach her how to read. Obviously this frustrated the hell
out of her. She met an orderly there, a sort of Theodore Kaczynski
type, who was extremely brilliant but extremely strange with no real
people skills. When she was discharged from the hospital they moved in
together and ended up having two children. She learned to read and has
vicariously lived through her children-- a son who is now an
astrophysicist and a daughter who is a classically trained dancer.
But the majority of patients that moved into Ukiah were stigmatized as being crazy and unstable. Thus they were treated with contempt by the townsfolk. One was killed by police and another was thrown off an overpass by a group of teenagers.
Venerable Master Hua of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association bought the land belonging to the State Hospital and transformed it into The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Growing up, there were all sorts of misconceptions about the Buddhists there like they were trained assassins and cannibals. Looking back it most certainly was because they were "different", wearing saffron colored robes and many of them having taken a vow of silence. Plus there's the adage never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.
The Ukiah Valley was a place where lots of cultures collided. Loggers and environmentalists, townsfolk and commune residents and Christians and Buddhists. There's another Buddhist monastery, Abhayagiri in Redwood Valley, and there's the byzantine Holy Transfiguration Monastery known locally as Mt. Tabor. There's also a witch camp which people called "Black Star" thinking they were teaching Satanism out there in the woods. So as you can imagine growing up I would see all sorts of different people and be exposed to many different ideologies but in the most unlikely of places-- the middle of nowhere in a town with a population of 15,000.