Interview with Lisa Ferguson – Millbrook Kid and Director of “Children of the Revolution”

Mother Flo, Papa Maynard and Lisa, in blue shorts, all acting silly in hats. "My mother collected hats, and every once in a while we would raid her hat collection. This is in Ojai California in the mid-80's - 20 yrs after Millbrook.

Lisa, Papa Maynard, and Mother Flo, all acting silly in hats. "My mother collected hats, and every once in a while we would raid her hat collection. This is in Ojai California in the mid-80's - 20 yrs after Millbrook." Photo Gallery: Lisa Ferguson/Ferguson Family Archives

Lisa Ferguson is the daughter of Maynard and Flo Ferguson. The couple and their four children, Corby (6 1/2 yrs), Lisa (5 yrs), Bentley (3 yrs), Wilder (2 yrs). They lived there at Millbrook, with Tim and his two kids (Jack and Susan), where they all lived together for about 3 years (although her family would leave and go out on some adventures periodically during that time).

After coming back for a while “when Millbrook was on its last legs,” and the family moved to California, and eventually left the country.

Q: What’s your last memory before moving to Millbrook?

A: On the day that we were moving Kennedy was shot. My family stopped everything that they were doing and sat around on cardboard, packing boxes, watching it over and over on the TV. Until, a few days later, they finally got over the shock of it, and got going again.

It was at that time that my parents had had a spiritual awakening with psychedelics and made a decision to give up their more materialistic lifestyle, and go on the transformative journey of spiritual “seeking”….the big adventure. This was when they decided to move our family into Tim’s Millbrook commune.

One of the beautiful things about Millbrook was how much they were all immersed in the study of eastern religions and philosophies, because these eastern philosophies paralleled exactly what they were all experiencing and learning first-hand during their LSD experiences.

My mother resonated deeply with the spiritual practices and studies she engaged in while at Millbrook, and continued her spiritual seeking for the rest of her life.

Flo Ferguson - Photo Credit: Lisa Ferguson/Ferguson Estate

Flora Lu Ferguson - Photo Credit: Lisa Ferguson/Ferguson Family Estate

The reason they were immersed in so many studies of eastern religions/mysticism/philosophies was because they discovered that these modalities were describing exactly what was happening to them on their LSD experiments.  There was a language, a body of experiences, a wisdom, already in existence, which described what they were discovering.

I am fond of this, because it speaks to the fact that they were not engaged in LSD just to see the pretty hallucinations, swirling colors or some other typically trivialized description, but that they were having full blown Satori experiences of “the truth” of the nature of man, his spirit, and his ecstatic place in the universe.

There is a huge difference between “a hallucination” and having the filters in your brain cleansed enough so that you can be released from your conditioning and see the truth.

Flo Lu Ferguson - From The Timothy Leary Archives

Flo Lu Ferguson - From The Timothy Leary Archives

Q: What was it like living at Millbrook?

A: As a child, my adventures at Millbrook were like those of a fairytale epic. I suddenly had this huge playground of forests and lakes and fields of sunflowers and corn.  All the structures had been built to resemble Bavarian fairytale castles, exactly like the ones you had seen in all your favorite bedtime stories.

There were waterfalls, and deer roamed the property. My sister Corby and I would play outside all day long, so lost in our epic imaginings that we would suddenly realize it was getting dark and have to run home through the woods and fields, across these gorgeous stone bridges, or frozen lakes if it was winter. There was a fork in the main road with a wishing tree in the middle of it that we used to wrap our arms around every time we passed it, and make a wish, then continue running home.

Sometimes Tim babysat me, sometimes Ralph Metzner, Ram Dass or sometimes Billy Hitchcock would take us up in his helicopter and fly over the property. I have footage of Tim lying under a trampoline looking up at my sister Corby and myself jumping up and down.

I remember that Jazz bassist Charlie Mingus lived there, and my father said he was at great peace when he was there. Once Tim gave me a quick lesson on how to prune a fruit tree, then Charlie Mingus and I spent all day sitting up in fruit trees while we trimmed them.

I actually remember standing alone on the edge of a field of sunflowers one day, I could have only been 7 at the oldest, and thinking to myself that someday I was going to have to tell this story.  I remember grasping the historical context, that we were standing on the edge of a moment in history, and that was happening was very magical.

Q: I found these really old pictures of your mom from Millbrook in the archives: a portrait (above) and this one with her at the dinner table (below). Can you tell me some more about it?

A: We often ate communally at big tables with everyone. I used to love being in the big kitchen when the women were cooking up feasts. The first 2 years they had big Thanksgiving dinners and while the turkey was cooking everyone played football out on the front lawn.

One year, Huston Smith’s wife Kendra’s job was to tackle Maynard Ferguson. Huston told me that when i interviewed him for “Children Of The Revolution.” (Note: we’ll talk more about this movie soon in an upcoming post!)


Flo Ferguson at the dinner table at Millbrook.

Q: You were there with Tim’s kids, right? What was it like having multiple families there in the same house?

A: I love living communally. I think I liked living with other kids, but in truth I was best friends with my sister Corby, who was only a year older, and we were always running around getting into adventures.

Because we had a large family we were somewhat insular and liked hanging out with eachother… Tims daughter Susan was at least 6 years older than me, as was his son Jack, so I didn’t play all that much with them. I remember trying to convince Jack to row us across the lake in one of the row boats. I think I liked having multiple parents…I think most of the adults who influenced me while I was there were great people.

Q: Were you kids at all aware of how famous all the adults around you were?

A: I was not in the least bit aware of how famous anyone at Millbrook was, not even my father.

Q: Your parents went to see Tim in switzerland, but they just missed him right?

A: We went to bring Tim and Rosemary money and clothes, while they were underground. We connected with Rosemary but the Swiss government had already put Tim in prison on the day we arrived, just before we got there.

Q: You mentioned that, when you hung out with Tim later in  his life, he told you to “tune back in” …

A: Yes, he meant to tune back in to the ideas and goals we had back then. That they are still valid. They are right; it’s part of an illusion that the media or state likes to perpetuate that the 60’s is over; that it failed, and that it all ended in some sort of drug debauchery or whatever.

He had discussed with me about how a huge percentage of people from that time had bought into some sort of victim mentality about themselves and that whole period. He said:

“Don’t buy it.  Find the other people who know what its about. Stick with them. Keep going. Work it out.

If American politics are fighting so hard to make you feel you failed, you must be winning. We can finish what we started. Stand up. Dust yourself off. Get going again. Don’t buy the hype.”

Flo, Lisa, a house guest, and little sister Wilder - Photo Credit: Ferguson Family Archives/Lisa Ferguson

Flo, Lisa, a house guest, and little sister Wilder - Photo Credit: Ferguson Family Archives/Lisa Ferguson

This interview and the pictures from the Ferguson Family Estate are used courtesy of Lisa Ferguson/Ferguson Family Estate. The two other pictures of Flora Lu Ferguson from Millbrook belong to the Futique Trust.

Lisa Ferguson will all be at our Reception/Film/Party Event this Sunday night, February 8th!

Have you RSVP‘d yet? 🙂

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