Tomato Fight! (Close Range)
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Left to right – Max, Richard, Billy, Bobby

Tomato Fight! (Close Range)  

Why are they ganging up on Richard?  I don’t know, but I suspect it’s because it was Richard’s idea to have a gigantic organic garden, where we toiled all day in the hot sun, and where at the end of the summer, we had thousands of ripe tomatoes left in the field and didn’t know what to do with them … well, as you can see, we finally did,  

Fortunately, in the main house we had 3 bathrooms with tubs & showers, and another one in the studio house, and a washing machine going full time.    

Living together as a group wasn’t always this much fun.  We rarely had the chance to release our pent-up feelings by pelting each other with ripe tomatoes (that was seasonal).  But look at it this way - you know what it’s like to live with just one other person - a spouse, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend, or just a friend - and that means putting up with their little eccentricities.  But when you start to multiply that by a dozen or more people, all living together, it can get complicated … so you need a way to deal with it.  

Family Meetings

Every couple of weeks, we’d have a Family Meeting where you could air issues and hopefully resolve it.  Since we had no leader, no boss, there was no one saying YOU HAVE TO attend a Family Meeting, but if you weren’t there, whatever the issue to be resolved was – IT WAS YOUR FAULT.

One of the most useful things we learned by living together – Always blame the person who isn’t in the room!  (they’re not there to defend themselves)  And once you have someone to blame, you can move on to more important issues like - “How are we going to pay these damned bills?”     


As the 70s continued on, more people became interested in starting a commune.  And as they did, articles about communes failing become more frequent.  In our case – the Zeebers – we were formed as a business where we all lived together - but oh boy, did we learn a lot about communal living.  

Another thing to remember (if you ever decide to start one)  … To live all together, somewhat peacefully, you have to deal with each other’s moods & quirks – so form the commune around the people you have, NOT around some lofty ideal of what you think a commune should be. 

Someday communes may have a comeback.  Do I recommend joining or starting one?  Why not, life is short, what the hell, and look at all the juicy stories you’ll have to tell.
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