I was a paralegal at an Atlanta law collective. We got a call that the police in Winder Georgia had stopped a bus and arrested all the passengers and drivers (maybe 27-31) people. Everyone had to post a bond of several hundred dollars (mostly by calls to their parents) and were released on bail. Someone had been talking too loud at a diner about all the good drugs on board. For the Winder sheriff, that was enough to stop the bus, and demand that everyone come out with their drugs. One passenger said, throw all your drugs in this basket, and everyone got off the bus, leaving the cops in a quandary about what drugs could be proven to belong to whom. The bus was impounded. All passengers had to scrounge their own ride home to New York or Boston or wherever. It was an eastbound trip, late 1979 or early 1980.
We got hired to represent everyone and went to court. It was a classic case of rough justice. The DAs knew nobody wanted to come back for a trial in Georgia, so they said if everyone would forfeit the bond, they would dismiss charges. Over a barrel it was a deal begrudgingly accepted. Money for the county. Everyone walks free.
Lester and Cheryl were with us. The DA agreed to release the bus, but when we went to get it, we discovered it had been trashed, all the sound system ripped out and carried away, along with some of the furnishings. Lester and Cheryl took the bus and drove off into the sunset.
For me, it was a fascinating lesson in the law: namely, it is a matter of power and control, not of any principles. I liked Cheryl a lot. She seemed to be running the business while Lester was the inspiration and figurehead.
Hi! I was traveling with the Grey rabbit bus 1980 from New york to Los Angeles. I had came from Sweden, traveling alone ,only 19 ears old. John Lennon was recently shot. I´m glad i found this page! I have some photos, and i often think about this big trip i did in your country. A lot of things happen along this journey. I remember that one girl had her dog run over and we had to take it in the luggage, and we forgot one passenger at a rest stop and had to go back and pick her up. She sat under a palm tree waiting for us. And we pick´t up hitchhikers along the way too. They had guitars and played for us. I remember a lot of things! Do you want to see the pictures and hear more?
I took the Grey Rabbit in 1980 from NY to SF although I had a ticket to Seatle. I met the bus it was parked across the street from the George Washington Bridge bus terminal. There were 2 drivers one guy had a blonde hair and beard and was a school teacher that wasn’t teaching at the time. The other driver had brown shoulder lenght hair and a mustache and I do remember something about him being a carpenter.We couldn’t leave NY right away because we took a vote to wait for some late passengers , a couple and their dog , they might of had children. The drivers after takin attendance said they would pay for the wine and we would pay for our food nd we went across the stret to an Italian restaurant to kill time until the late passengers arrived. well they never made it and off we went.The bus was a Blue and white 1956 GMC diesel with a goofey lookin running rabbit on both sides. The inside was converted like a camper , diner type boothes that turned into beds , an open communal area with matresses and cushions in the back and 2 bench type seats on both sides by the driver. There were some very memorable things that happened. The drivers decided that we would take a more southerly route because it was November to avoid any chance of hitting snow.One thing that happened was in Tennessee (Memphis I think) we stopped in the State University to use the gymnasium showers apparently this was done before. Well I was the first one back to the bus only to find there were security with the dean and other faculty by the bus watching me come forward. I drawing on the little bit of the Czeck language that I knew told them I didn’t speak english.The drivers came out with the rest of the 18 passengers and told the Dean e were a bunch of students traveling across country and we were in need of showers. The Dean seemed delighted that we stopped there and told us to come back.Later on in the trip after picking up this hitch hiker in New Mexico Who left his successful life (wife and kids) to live in the mountains of New Mexico we went to Zion National Park in Southern Utah. We got there in the nightime and we woke up inside this beautiful natural ampnitheater at sunrise. Some of us then went on to climb one of the most beautiful rock formations Angels Landing 8735 feet high. In California we got pulled over by California HWY Patrol. We and the driver was feeling no pain and the Blonde bearded driver was sleepin , The 2 drivers switched places and the cop is at the door.We know to tell the cop that we are not paying passengers (Grey Rabbit only had permits for Cal. Or.and WA)That cop tried his hardest to get one of us to slip up but we didn’t. The driver was pulled off the bus into the cop car. The driver returned later with a speeding ticket fo 70 in 55. That bus couldn’t do 70 downhill with a tail wind. Oh I forgot to mention we stopped in Las Vegas for a couple of hours. We went down coast Hwy 1 stopped at Pismo Beach , Big Sur , Contemplated using Esalens baths but didn’t. We stopped and camped in Julia Pfiefer state park overnight and went on to SF the next day. Oh yea we stopped in Santa Cruz where a guy came up to the bus and offered some mushrooms to sell. In SF we went to the SOMA hotel (hostel) That night we went to Braodway for Chinese food and decided to catch some live music , Iggy Pop was sold out across from where we went in to see from Brooklyn The Mud Dogs (hardcore) I grew tired of the scene and went back to the SOMA hotel. If any of this sounds familiar to you then we were on the same trip.It was supposed to take 3 days but it took 6.The bus broke down we needed to improvise on a fuel filter gasket wich was made from styrofoam.There was a guy named Udo from Germany , A girl from SF who was the president of the SF vegatarian Society her name was Edie , there was a couple from NH Dave and Julie Morningstar , some one from France , Italy, and a bunch of great fun people who I can’t remember thier name.
Wow! Great commentary. You really captured a lot of the alternative bus experience in your posting. Thanks so much for sharing. My first experience was a trip from Boston to SF in 1980 but we ended up deviating to West Virginia to take in the Rainbow Gathering with hopes of getting a few more fares on board. No one minded, we were all having such a great time.
I rode the Rabbit in the summer of 1980 from NYC to Berkley. The bus was an ex-Passaic – Athena and said “MT HEALTHY” on the destination sign. As we were leaving Manhattan the driver said “this bus has 1970 air conditioning – we roll down all nineteen windows and drive seventy.”
I started talking to a couple girls from Long Island. One seemed to like me until I said I liked Zappa – she resented the song Jewish Princess. She wound up seducing one of the bus drivers and they disappeared back into the sleeping cubby.
No one seemed to have weed (and alcohol was strongly discouraged to avoid pee breaks), but starting somewhere in the midwest a friend and I sampled some purple microdot and were coming down just as we hit the hot springs. Priceless.
Leaving Tahoe where the road gets a little scary with a steep drop on the right we blew a rear tire. All us guys had to help wrestle the spare out from under the mattresses and swap it with the flat.
I rode the Grey Rabbit – or the Green Tortoise, can’t remember which – from somewhere in Montana to NYC sometime during the summer of 1980. I’d been hitch-hiking east, not very efficiently, and was running out of money.
So I had about $15 in my pocket when I got let out at a truck stop, then headed over towards the “hippie bus” I’d seen on the highway earlier. I couldn’t afford the $50 ticket but they let me on anyway, and I was in heaven – platforms, mattresses, sleeping bags, interesting people to talk to (including my future girl-friend).
The two drivers would take turns – one would drive and play an endless selection of Dylan et al tapes, the other would sleep in a cubby-hole in the very back of the bus.
At some point we stopped at a big lake in MN to swim and basically wash up, and I ended up rescuing a passenger who was having trouble swimming back to shore. That earned my ticket, according to the driver
We eventually made it to Grand Central, at which point my new girl-friend and I headed south to Maryland (my parents’) and DC (her parents’), respectively.
This all seems like several generations ago, needless to say!
I worked in Kendall Square for many years and just a couple of years ago, saw a Gray Rabbit (or Green Tortoise parked on a side-street. This brought back a rush of memories because it looked very much like it did back then. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Just came across this site. I came across as a little girl with my sister and dad back in 80 or 81. My folks were friends with the owner and drivers. We packed all our belongings on the rabbit in Maine and it took us to Sonoma California. Every time I smell exhaust I remember that trip. The bunks, the drivers taking turns at the wheel. And watching the sights out my tiny toddler eyes. Names that come to mind, Cookie, Rusty, Ricky to name a few. I wonder what happened to all of them. Rusty was a big sweet bear of a man.