Carbondale After Dark

From panty raids to riots, Carbondale After Dark (1982) is a profusely illustrated anthology of history, essays and short stories that chronicles how a sleepy little college town in the Midwest became a hippie haven and radical outpost during the 1960s and ’70s. Some call that Carbondale’s golden age, while others say it was the city’s hippie phase. Either way, it left a mark on the town and those who went through those tumultuous times, and it remains a period of interest to those who came after.

In 2018 an expanded third edition was issued in print-on-demand paperback and hardback, ebook, Kindle and PDF formats. In addition to a new preface, the expanded edition includes an addendum with three new stories. “Carbondale Before Dark” is about growing up in the town in the 1950s and early ’60s. “Bucky’s Dome” is about living in futurist Buckminster Fuller’s dome home in the early 1980s. “Ghosts of Carbondale Past” is a reflection on a 2017 reunion concert of Carbondale bands from the 1970s.

The third edition preserves the original text and layout, warts and all, while some photos have been remastered to improve clarity. The hardback edition is suitable for libraries and makes a great gift. The ebook and PDF versions are also striking because they can be viewed as seamless double-page spreads, which highlights the graphics and layout.

H.B. Koplowitz was born and raised in Carbondale and graduated from SIU in 1976. He has reported for the Southern Illinoisan and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and edited for City News Service in Los Angeles. He is currently a writing consultant in Boca Raton, Florida.


“The following is not a fable — it all really happened and it has no morals.”

So begins H.B. Koplowitz’s “Layman’s History of ‘The Strip’,” a self-described “chronology of events that have contributed to Carbondale’s reputation as a party town, drug den and radical outpost.”

“The Strip” takes up less than half of Carbondale After Dark And Other Stories, a self-published, profusely illustrated anthology of history, essays and short stories centered on Southern Illinois University and Carbondale in the 1960s and ’70s. But it is one of the things that makes the book memorable.

“The Strip” begins with the founding of Carbondale in 1852, and Southern Illinois University in 1869, and ends in 1982 (A new preface updates events in Carbondale to 2019). But CAD focuses on the decades of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, when Carbondale was invaded by hippies and freaks, protest rallies and massive street parties.

The chronology provides a blow-by-blow account of the political and cultural upheavals that led to the May 1970 riots in Carbondale, and how protests evolved into street parties and a massive Halloween celebration. It also chronicles streakers, bands, bars, hangouts, protest movements and street people, and efforts by city and school officials to control the madness. In other words, all the things that get left out of official histories and Chamber of Commerce brochures.

Ironically, Koplowitz wrote “The Strip” only after he realized that the book he started out to produce — an anthology of his writings going back to high school — would never sell. By focusing on the strip in Carbondale he had limited his audience, but found one.

The manuscript was composed on a used typewriter in Buckminster Fuller’s former dome home in Carbondale. Deb Browne did the design, layout, typesetting and much more. Koplowitz also filled CAD with memorable photos and illustrations by the likes of P.S. Mueller, Dan Wood and Marvin Hill, who drew the cover art.

The rest of CAD is what the original book started out to be — a collection of Koplowitz’s writings from what he calls his “Blue Period.” Included are such titles as “Kidnapped by Jesus Freaks” and “Kid Clyde: An Existentualist’s Horror Story”; rants on such subjects as women’s lib and “niggercommiekikes”; a new journalism treatment of the 1976 Republican National Convention; and a poem, “The Horny Blues.” Let’s just say Koplowitz’s instinct was probably correct — it never would have sold. But tacked on to “The Strip,” the stories continue to explore the terrain of teenage angst, and the illustrations are fun.

In 2007, Koplowitz and Browne collaborated on a 25th anniversary edition. Both editions are now out of print.  Working with PDF scans from the original book, Koplowitz produced the 2018 POD and ebook versions on his home computer. Processing, printing and distribution is being handled by Ingramspark, a subsidiary of Ingram, the world’s largest book distributor. The books and ebooks are available on Amazon, while a PDF version suitable for all screens is available here.

4 thoughts on “Carbondale After Dark

  1. Brad Simpson

    What great music! I still have my original copy of CAD. What a wonderful era. I was a hidden Vietnam vet,
    Like many others during that era. Just trying to get by and get along. I was one of the instigators of the hayride
    down the strip at the first Halloween celebration of 1974. We were certain we would be busted but the police
    were much cooler in those days thanks to Chief Hogan. They just waved at us. Lol. That was
    the best of Carbondale. Thanks again for the memory.

  2. Kevin Richmond

    I remember at age 14 or15 sneaking out of my parent’s house in West Frankfort late one night to drive (without a license) to Carbondale to hear Coal Kitchen. They were playing in the student center that night. I thought they sounded awesome. I later went on to play in several Carbondale bands over the years at clubs like Bonaparte’s Retreat, Golden Gauntlet and Merlins. Carbondale after dark was a big part of my life in those years.


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