In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the German Lebensreform movement emphasized the goodness of nature, the harms to society, people, and to nature caused by industrialization, the importance of the whole person, body and mind, and the goodness of “the old ways”.:32–33 The German youth movement known as Der Wandervogel grew out of Lebensreform as a countercultural reaction to the organized social and cultural clubs that centered on German folk music. In contrast to these formal clubs, Wandervogel emphasized amateur music and singing, creative dress, and communal outings involving hiking and camping. Inspired by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, Hermann Hesse, and Eduard Baltzer, Wandervogel attracted thousands of young Germans who rejected the rapid trend toward urbanization and yearned for the pagan, back-to-nature spiritual life of their ancestors.
Nature Boys of Southern California
During the first several decades of the 20th century, these beliefs were introduced to the United States as Germans settled around the country, some opening the first health food stores. (For example, Santa Barbara‘s first health food store was opened in 1934 by Hermann Sexauer, who was born in Teningen, Germany on 4 March 1883 and died in December 1971; he left Germany in 1906, arrived in New York, ended up in California and lived a pacifist, raw vegan, non-conformist lifestyle.) Many moved to Southern California, where they could practice an alternative lifestyle in a warm climate. In turn, young Americans adopted the beliefs and practices of the new immigrants. One group, called the Nature Boys, who included William Pester, took to the California desert, raised organic food, and espoused a back-to-nature lifestyle. eden ahbez, a member of this group, wrote a hit song, “Nature Boy‘”, which was recorded in 1947 by Nat King Cole, popularizing the homegrown back-to-nature movement to mainstream America. Eventually, a few of these Nature Boys, including the famous Gypsy Boots, made their way to Northern California in 1967, just in time for the Summer of Love in San Francisco.read more about how this movement and how having hippie parents shaped me, now and then.