The bluegrass music that filled Memory Grove on Sunday seemed natural for a memorial honoring the late folk musician Charles Artman.
But the butterflies that fluttered everywhere through the park lent symbolic lightness and color to a ceremony remembering the man better known in Salt Lake City as "Charlie Brown," a '60s hippie and social activist.Charlie's message was love. He followed a guru, drove an old bus and lived at times in a tepee.
Charlie died April 15 at age 52 in a California convalescent home of chronic hepatitis. He contracted the disease, one friend said, shooting heroin to prove to a chronic user that the drug's "high" was no better than the natural high he obtained from meditation.
Salt Lakers often would gawk or sneer at the sight of him wearing a black cape on his shoulders and a large cross on his chest, driving his bus or riding his bike through city streets. Or flying a kite or playing music in Reservoir Park.
It was that kind of day in Memory Grove. A day for hugging friends not seen for some time. For smelling incense. For lying on the grass and listening to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Amazing Grace" sung by Charlie's old friends.
"He was so far out of context I'm sure he scared people," recalled old friend Jim Sorrels. "But he was just a loose, free soul . . . a very easy person. If you would take a few minutes to talk to him he was really comfortable and easy to talk to. But back in those days, even if you wore a beard it scared people."
Photographs of Charlie in front of the old Dodge school bus were set up on a table next to pictures of his spiritual mentor, the Guru Maharaj Ji.
"Who is this guy?" two men in their early 20s asked Whitney, pointing to a picture of Charlie bordered with the admonition "Discover the Sunny Kingdom Through Meditation."
"He aspired for very high goals in peoples' spiritual lives," she responded, explaining that meditation helps one "go inside oneself. The purpose is not to stay in the '60s," but to find truth internally.