This past week, Albert Hofmann the Swiss scientist who discovered LSD in 1938 while researching the medical uses of crop fungus, died at the age of 102. Although I knew a little about what he had done—as far as discovering LSD—I didn’t know anything more about the research and experiments he had conducted with this hallucinogenic drug.
However, what I did know about the research—at least indirectly—was that I did meet one of his more outspoken advocates of the recreational use of LSD, Timothy Leary back in 1986. Leary who had popularized the drug in the 1960’s with his suggestion to “turn on, tune in, drop out” was in America’s Heartland to give a talk at—if you can believe this—a small college outside of Washington, Illinois (near Pekin, Illinois and just across the Illinois River from Peoria).
He was supposed to talk about interactive computer software, but the audience had another topic in mind. No sooner had he delivered his opening remarks, someone in the audience asked him what he thought about mandatory urine testing for drug detection and that was all he needed to lash out at the government and talk about the 60’s.
So much for his talk on interactive computer software and I am not even sure if that is what he was going to talk about in the first place.
The audience ate it all up. That’s what they really wanted to hear him talk about—drugs, rock and roll and the 60’s.
After he had spoken and went backstage he sort of held court for a dozen or so audience members and a few members of the press who wanted to hear him talk more about the 60’s. I also went backstage and when he saw me he looked up from where he was sitting and said, “Hi.”
Timothy Leary played Peoria and I got to say “Hi” to him.