Moving South for College & A Brief Career in Fine Stones

Phil TrippHe had been accepted at a number of colleges, but Georgetown University in Washington DC, and the University of Hawaii were far too expensive and didn’t offer scholarships. But his older brother’s school, Campbell College in Buies Creek, North Carolina did in deference to the fact that George was serving in the Green Berets and had already toured Vietnam. Phil had already decided that going to war was not going to be a career move, so he decided to pursue a degree in Political Science.

Campbell was perhaps the worst place for a hippie with long hair, fluency in Negro slang and an antiwar stand to go to school. It was a Southern Baptist college which required attendance at chapel three times a week and was located in a small town in Harnett County, which had the largest per capita membership in the Ku Klux Klan of any county in the US. Phil was greeted by a billboard just outside of town on the interstate with a white night rider stating, ‘Welcome to Klan Country’ and an invitation under his dorm room door to attend a rally that night where the ceremonial cross would be burned among the huddled hooded masses.

He would only last the first year before he was invited not to return despite a high B average. The college did not appreciate his involvement in anti-war rallies and helping to organise a speech on campus by noted black comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory. He wound up working in the mail room of the Raleigh News and Observer where he had his first taste of media and journalism. Hanging with writers and having access to all the latest new music as well as free concert tickets, he became fluent in the San Francisco sounds and saw Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Janis Joplin and Cream in that year with the newspaper.

Phil TrippBut by this time he had also developed an appetite for the newly introduced hallucinogen LSD and others such as mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, MDA and others. He soon attracted the attention of local police and after having been raided but not arrested, he decided to give up tripping after a bad reaction to STP and became involved in a drug counselling service. This ended when one of his clients, who was the scion of rich parents, decided the best way to end his misery and allow his inheritance to be bequeathed to the service, blew his brains out in front of Phil in the middle of a session.

This was enough to make Phil and his first wife leave town and move to Atlanta, which was the only sane city in the South at the time. After drifting in and out of a few nowhere jobs and dabbling in the black arts of computer programming with punchcards, Phil encountered two people who had connections and ideas. With his knowledge of police procedures, tactics and techniques from his father’s books and work as a police officer and vice squad agent, Phil decided to enter into a unique import business and distribution network at age 19.

The trio had business cards identifying them as “Dealers in Fine Stones”, soon figured out an importation scheme that used military post offices bypassing Customs and were importing and distributing vast amounts of compressed herbal substances from Europe. This lasted a year before the German posted soldier partner was rotated home. So the trio later extended to Mexico, Jamaica and Colombia and with their network of retail merchants, they were soon rich beyond their wildest dream and sensibilities.

Though they participated in a culture of illicit local police support and retirement benefits payments and managed to elude Federal enforcement agencies for over a year, Phil felt that time was running out on their luck and elected to quit the lucrative business. The two partners decided to get even richer by getting involved in even more profitable and dangerous pursuits that landed them both in penitentiaries.

One of them, the son of a South American diplomat, was freed after 18 months when Phil paid off a lawyer who diverted the payment to a judge. That lawyer was later found shot in his El Paso office. The other partner served hard time Leavenworth when a major cocaine deal went sour, he turned snitch on his suppliers and then tried to leave the country, only to be caught boarding a plane.

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