They found dope in Dick's Store
And took down Hippie Hill
As far as I know Hippie Hill had never really bothered many of the
local townspeople... All that changed last year when a young State
Policeman moved into town.
By Carl R. Hultberg
October 10, 2009
HIPPIE HILL, NH -- The town of Danbury, New Hampshire, where I live,
is also home to a local landmark known as Hippie Hill. Of course,
this being New Hampshire, we have to remember that here the term
"hippie" does not connote any particular point of view regarding war,
peace, ecology, racial equality or women's liberation. What hippie
means in NH is long hair and a predilection for the consumption of
large quantities of marijuana (and beer).
In many ways hippie is the same as biker (motorcyclist) in New
Hampshire. So it is at Hippie Hill where local bikers and others who
like to ride their motorcycles (without noise restricting mufflers)
on Rte 4 congregate in downtown Danbury to throw horseshoes, drink
beer and defiantly smoke (mostly homegrown) pot on a little knoll
(railroad embankment) across the road from Dick's Store.
Dick (Gness) has been a local fixture for years in town and he acts
as unofficial manager of all things Hippie Hill, as far as anything
is ever managed there. He sells the T shirts with the Hippie Hill
logo on them for example. Dick is a serious curmudgeon and his store
is part grocery (beer/gas/tobacco), but also part bank for social
outsiders and part food museum. I can say from experience that he
sells the best Cabot cheese outside of the state of Vermont, but stay
away from the dried meat products in his display case.
To say that actually visiting Hippie HIll is a disappointment would
be an understatement. Not really a hill at all, just the old railroad
siding with a couple of picnic tables and a horseshoe pit. The
hippies (like some horseshoes) also fall somewhat short of the mark.
My favorite (made up) Hippie Hill quote is: "Peace and Love, wanna
fight?" -- which kind of captures the spirit. None the less, Hippie
Hill represents an on-going social protest that has been running for
over thirty years, a defiant demonstration in favor of public beer
drinking, marijuana cultivation, smoking and a host of other USA male
As far as I know Hippie Hill has never really bothered many of the
local townspeople. Obviously there are some enforcement codes being
ignored, but all in all, given the demographic realities at hand, it
is probably a good way for the local riff raff to let off some steam
(playing horseshoes) without hurting anyone.
Every few years a biker has managed to injure or kill himself trying
to do a fancy drunken burnout, but mostly the town has been okay with
Hippie Hill. After all, they always had Dick Gness to look after the flock.
Taking one look at the congregation mingling by the side of Route 4,
he was quoted as saying: "I'm going to shut that down." The summer
passed and no actions were taken. Folks assumed the heat was off and
New Hampshire's longest running unofficial marijuana legalization
protest could continue. They were wrong.
Dispatches From the Front:
Angel of Danbury / October 6, 2009
The man who made Hippie Hill happen got busted Sunday. After a
"routine" inspection by the State Alcohol (beer) authority on
Saturday the State Police and other local authorities swooped down on
Dick's Store at the crossroads in downtown Danbury, New Hampshire.
Readers might remember that Dick's business (gas/beer/tobacco) is
also the main support system behind Hippie Hill. Beyond that Dick
Gness is also a general benefactor in the town. Got a check but no
bank account? Lots of people in town fit that category. No problem.
If Dick knows you (and he knows everybody) your check is as good as gold.
No problem with credit until the end of the week either. Just
remember where to buy your beer. And don't stick it to the man unless
you want your picture on his Wall of Shame. Dick's Store also gives
lots of people in town a place to go. Not just the so called hippies
on Hippie Hill. Local loners (like me), young kids on bicycles who
might otherwise be getting into trouble, folks who need to talk
something out. Dick does it all.
And a lot more it would seem unless this bust was a total fraud. The
items "discovered" in Dick's Store included: bags of marijuana (for
distribution?), psilocybin mushrooms, a quantity of cocaine, some
pints of vodka, some guns and a bunch of cash. Of course if you are
running a small bank and credit operation, you're going to need some
cash. And you probably are going to need a gun or two.
If you are 71 years old (like Dick Gness) you're probably going to
need some ounces of marijuana as well. For strictly medicinal
purposes. As for the rest of the material supposedly found at Dick's
Store I wouldn't have a guess. In the four and a half years I have
lived in Danbury I have never once (not even at the dump) heard talk
of Dick being a drug dealer. The protector and patron of the Hippie
Hill crowd. Absolutely. Beyond that? Nothing.
Except for the explicit threat made by the New Hampshire State
Policeman who moved into Danbury last year. The threat to "shut down
Hippie Hill." If they'd really wanted to do that, no better way than
to take out kindly old Dick from Dick's Store.
Nice work guys.
Live Free or Die (Trying) / October 7, 2009
Dick Gness of Dick's Store in Danbury, New Hampshire, was released on
his own recognizance and $1500 bail after his arrest on drug charges
Sunday. Tuesday is
the day Dick's is usually closed during the day so the town awaited
in anticipation to see if the store would open at 4 p.m. as usual.
All during the day two of the diehard longhaired Hippie Hill
contingent sat on one of the picnic tables huddled against the fall
chills. By late afternoon (4:30 p.m.) when we got back to town it was
obvious Dick's Store had reopened as usual. More than a few cars
trucks and bikes (motorcycles) were parked around in front of the
sign prominently advertising Ruggles Mine and the lights were all on.
A few hundred feet away two State Police cruisers sat directly in the
intersection of Rte 104 and Rte 4, all lit up. The two troopers, one
of whom is the officer who lives in town who'd vowed to "shut down
Hippie Hill" stood outside their vehicles scrutinizing everyone who
drove through town. I don't know if anything ever happened last
night, but the situation did not look good.
It sort of reminded me of the days of the NYC Tompkins Square Riot in
1988, another police provoked, totally avoidable incident. It looks
like Hippie Hill in Danbury, New Hampshire, may have to go the way of
the old Tompkins Square bandshell and the Garden of Eden in the Lower
Comments posted after the arrest article in the right wing Manchester
Union Leader newspaper were about 50/50 pro- and anti-Dick. Some
people commended the store owner for his generosity to many local
people over the years. Others commended the State Police for having
terminated an illegal activity that the Danbury Police Chief had
refused to address (Hippie Hill). Welcome to New Hampshire.
Welcome to the USA.
Dick's only comment so far was to the Union Leader: "Lies, all lies."
Letters of support for Dick Gness and Hippie Hill can be sent to:
Dick's Village Store, 717 US Route 4, Danbury, New Hampshire 03230-4634.
The Other Side of the Story / Oct 8, 2009
But first a word from our sponsors. Folks following the Dick's Store
/ Hippie Hill controversy know that Dick Gness, owner of Dick's Store
and all around patron of Hippie Hill, was arrested after a routine
State inspection revealed evidence of marijuana in the store.
Driving through town on Tuesday at dusk Danbury resembled a battle
zone. Dick's Store supporters on one side of the intersection and
State Police cruisers on the other. As we drove through a trooper
wrote down our license number. Is this still America? I heard that
the Hippie Hill hangers out stayed until the police left, way after
dark, afraid to get into their vehicles after drinking.
The next day we were driving back through town and decided to put
some air in the tires. The only free air pump I know of is at Dick's
Store. Filling up the tire I was somewhat taken back to see Dick pop
out of the store as happy and pleasant as ever. I mentioned to him
that I was surprised to see the store scale, the one he uses to weigh
out cheese, in the drug paraphernalia picture in the paper. He laughed.
Inside, paying for the gas I decided to ask him point blank. "That
really wasn't your stuff they hauled out of here was it?" He looked
down for a second and said: "It was here but it wasn't mine."
Suddenly it all made sense. "You were holding it for a debt, right?
Just like the firearms?" He nodded. "Your problem is that you're too
nice a guy, Dick..." He agreed.
So now you know. Acting as a local bank Dick Gness got into trouble
trying to help people out. It never made sense that he would be a
heavy user or big time dealer. The State Police are asking people to
volunteer information, an obvious admission that they don't have much
of a case against Dick as a dealer.
Of course the State will take away his licenses to sell beer,
cigarettes, to dispense hunting and fishing permits. The town will
lose its source for the cheapest gas and beer and of course all those
people who have identity problems will have no friendly unofficial
bank or place to hang out anymore.
Welcome to America. Now playing in Danbury, New Hampshire. I guess
it's time for Dick to finally retire. Small wonder he's still
smiling. He didn't do anything wrong really.