The Alternative scene at the corner of 9th South and 9th East continued to evolve after 1967’s Summer of Love, through tumultuous 1968, and welcomed the Woodstock Generation home, as the Sixties turned into the Seventies.
A new timeless elegance was gaining popularity, and a shop named Mother’s Earth Things opened up to fill this need.
Although it may have been the first so-called head shop in Salt Lake City, the Cosmic Aeroplane was not the only Alternative business at 9th & 9th.
Just around the corner facing eastward across Ninth East, was a sandwich joint named Desolation Row — same as Bob Dylan’s famous recording. Singer Richard Cordray of Smoke Blues Band ran the place.
Desolation Row moved to First South and Seventh East, next to a new poster and head shop named Kamaran, in a building that continues to host other businesses like Utah Guitar & Banjo and Wasatch Touring, both of which were considered Alternative when they started. Future sandwich shops at the 9th & 9th were successful for another two decades.
Phillips Gallery also started out at the 9th & 9th, then moved to their permanent location on east 2nd South by the autumn of 1968, where they still thrive well into 2016.
Linda Huntington and Tamara Buranek were the two initial partners of Mother’s Earth Things, but Linda became sole owner after awhile. She is pictured (above right) with Ken Rogers and other staff from neighboring Skin Company Productions, who also hosted Darel Barton’s sign business — Barton created a large-scale painting over the front of the whole Stone Balloon Waterbeds building on the southeast corner of 9th & 9th.
The main business of both Skin Company and Mother’s Earth Things was high-quality hand-crafted clothing. Huntington had fashionable jewelry in stock after moving forward from items like candles, tie-dye, and woven wall hangings. Her store expanded over two bays instead of one, and also organized a mutual advertising campaign for the other Alternative shops that chose to do business on and around 9th East & 9th South.
(Above) Various Alternative businesses at the 9th & 9th pooled resources for 9th & 9th Community ads. (Below) An example of a ledger from this period of time — group ads in multiple publications cost only tens of dollars.
A freewheeling D.Y.I. spirit and style ruled early campaigns, but they became more and more sophisticated over time.
Linda Huntington’s long-running friendship with nearby Westminster College was an important component of the 9th & 9th Community’s success in the neighborhood.
Round Records was also a poster shop, with a unique visual flair:
Read more about Round Records in
Cosmic Music: Jordan River Avant Garde
A former partner of the Cosmic Aeroplane brought his own ideas and personal charm back to the 9th & 9th Community:
The Connection — was ex-Cosmic partner Jack Bills and new co-partner Larry Ficks, who was later a prime time DJ on KRCL 90.9 FM — a non-commercial community radio station that continues to broadcast over the air and Internet in 2016.
The Connection’s sandwich shop was a commercial success, and Nature’s Way gradually integrated this practical service into the neighborhood after the original partners left, under the management of Ed Hurd.
Read the CATALYST Magazine article about The Connection and Mr. Hurd — Courtesy of Linda Huntington, with the gracious permission of Greta DeJong:
Mother’s Earth Things achieved high standards of elegance in their products and advertisements:
Membership in the 9th & 9th Community pool increased to remarkable levels.
After awhile it seemed like nobody wanted to be left out — The 9th & 9th Community developed its own identity over the following decades, and continues to exist in 2016 with different names and faces.
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Relish the details within this large-sized version of the Blue 9th & 9th Poster
(circa 1976) by the late Karl W. Howard.
Large Blue 9th & 9th Community Poster
Mother’s Earth Things not only excelled at creating stylish custom clothing throughout the existence of the shop, but contributed to the wider cultural community.
Starting in 1971, the Annual May Fest at Westminster College always involved Mother’s Earth Things and neighbors from the 9th & 9th.
View this stunning poster in a much larger size
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Westminster College’s fine Jazz program led to many concerts over the years, sometimes with help from Ms. Huntington and the Salt Lake Jazz Society. Venues included the Olympic Club, Mule Hollow in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and other mountainous venues.
Another Alternative business corner at 15th East & 15th South developed east of Westminster College, with staffers from the Cosmic Aeroplane and Round Records, in genial alliance with The King’s English bookstore.
Cosmic descendents like Raunch Records and Blue Boutique migrated near Westminster College in the Sugar House area, near the Olympic Club, and both stores anchored a stubbornly-resilient Alternative business district around 11th East and 21st South at various times.
The 9th & 9th Community maintained a unique attitude and atmosphere.
To read this poster, check out the larger version HERE
(Please wait for the PDF to load.)
The row of storefronts that hosted the original Cosmic Aeroplane, Round Records, and Mother’s Earth Things, not to mention a series of bike shops, was replaced by new construction and a variety of businesses, but the original Woodman Building that housed Stone Age Crafts proudly declares the 9th & 9th Center with an arched sign rising over and spanning their driveway in 2016. Cosmic / Connection partner Jack Bills once lived in the upstairs apartment.
The 9th & 9th Sign was the topmost illustration of a CATALYST Magazine article by T. Langdon Fisher about late 20th Century changes facing the 9th & 9th Community.
Fisher’s article bridges the time after Mother’s Earth Things closed and the Millenium. Fisher describes stores which were still in operation at the 9th & 9th in 1997: Great Harvest; The Tower Theater (reborn); Chameleon Artware, Cahoots; and the Coffee Garden — which would win a future turf struggle with Starbucks, but would also move across the street to a retail space where Salt City CDs once thrived. Alternative publisher Angela Brown worked at Salt City while editing S.L.U.G. — the magazine she eventually owned.
Along the way, CATALYST also tells about the history of this quirky corner going back to 1878 — and how it grew through the 1960’s. There are also contemporary photos of the corner with the original Coffee Garden.
Link to a PDF of the original story, courtesy of Linda Huntington, with the gracious permission of Greta DeJong:
UPDATE: As of 2016, 9th & 9th has avoided massive demolition projects and the resulting sprawl of overlarge replacement buildings, unlike the Downtown and Sugarhouse areas.
The 9th & 9th celebrates an annual street fair too.
All the images on this page are under Copyright, and used with permission in the context of this article.
We actively request your contributions of pictures, memorabilia, and oral histories concerning the Cosmic Aeroplane and related enterprises — please contact our blogmeister:
Blogmeister Michael Evans is an author and historian.
There is more about music and the 9th & 9th Community in his book — The Great Salt Lake Mime Saga and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools.