As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the Doors burst on the scene in 1967 with Light My Fire and that turned out to be the spark that lit my own fuse of no return. I fell at rocket speed into a blossoming subculture that reshaped my reality. And when you tumble down the proverbial rabbit hole, it’s best to act like Alice when she’s ten feet tall.

Gas, grass, and ass were standard trading currencies in the late 1960s. But it seemed no one ever had a full tank and drugs were more plentiful than free love. This started me thinking. If I had drugs, then logically the other two would be a natural part of the compensation package. I couldn’t grow weed without killing it. Besides, there was plenty of pot around and too much competition. I turned to my only other option. After all, I had some experience with the distillation process; lessons from my father’s back woods still.

LSD was the second most sought after drug in the 60s. Lysergic acid diethylamide is a synthetic chemical, made from a substance found in ergot, a fungus that infects grain. If you are just returning from extended space travel, LSD is a psychedelic drug. When taken in small amounts, it produced mild changes in perception, mood, and thought. Larger doses produced visual hallucinations and distortions of space and time.

Guess which dose size most of us chose? We had deep conversations with hookah-smoking caterpillars and mercury-poisoned hat makers. We saw minutes passed as hours and hours pass as minutes. The space chasm grew wider and left us either flying like Icarus or locked in a closet filled with roaches. It was a unique experience every time. LSD was the one thing that meant everything to all of us.

In its pure state, LSD is a colorless odorless crystalline substance. However, it is so potent that an effective dose of the pure drug is so small, it’s virtually invisible. As a result, I diluted its potency drastically in the chemistry lab using solutions such as distilled water or alcohol.

When I had collected three quarters of a test tube (~ half ounce or 20 ml for the scientists out there), I jumped on the westbound ‘L’ train to the end of the line. Back in the day, Cicero was a major hub for mob activity but by the 60s the city just west of Chicago had become a gateway to the western suburbs. I met my contact in a family-style pizzeria on west 35th street.

George and Dominick Lio were a couple of guys who loved to rearrange bones years before chiropractic became popular. Live and let live; don’t accidentally back up on the rattlesnake’s tail. Yeah, they were those kind of guys. I passed the vile across the table. They paid for the $15 pizza with 5 one hundred-dollar bills. I kept the change and went back to school.

I left it to the Lio brothers to handle preparation and distribution via their choice of drops dried on either pieces of blotting paper or sugar cubes, which released the drug when swallowed. 

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