Free Hippy..a 5 Year Camping Trip!

My Aunt Rhonda (Shepard) loves to tell this story…When the boys (my dad and Glen Shepard) were 20-21 (right after my dad’s enlistment in the Marine’s ended) they lived in Houston, TX.  One day they decided to sell all their worldly possessions and bought a small trailer that attached to their car.  They tell the mom’s (Grandma Jane and Grandma Alice Shepard) that they are going camping and according to Aunt Rhonda they did not return for 5 years!  The boys would call Aunt Rhonda and check-in and they would tell her how they would go from two main hippy communes (early 70’s) one in Colorado and one in Reno, NV.  The commune in Reno, NV is where my dad met a 15 year-old runaway from California, Debra Jean Katz.  Debbie joined the boys on their adventure and in the summer of 1977, in Reno, NV, Debbie who was then 18, found out she was pregnant with me.  My dad decides to return to Houston, TX and face Grandma Jane.  Aunt Rhonda remembers fondly the day the boys returned!  She said they got out of the car looking like “Jesus Christ Superstar!”.  Both boys had hair down to their butts and my dad already was growing his signature long beard.  Aunt Rhonda said that my Grandma Jane took one look at Debbie and told my dad that he was immediately getting married and to not ask her to babysit!  Patrick and Debra Jean were married on September 26, 1977 in Houston, TX.  Heather Ann LaGrone was born on April 8, 1978 in Houston, TX (their only child).  Their divorce was final in April 1980.  Of course Grandma Jane went from swearing she wouldn’t babysit to throwing a fit because they wouldn’t let her take me home from the hospital!


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