The Lazy R Ranch was one of those iconic places straight out of the gangster era of the thirties selling bootleg gin, except it was 1967 and they transported and sold Marijuana.
Because it was early in the whole pot craze, the kingpin, and I can’t remember his name, stood alone as a supplier of rotgut marijuana straight from the fields of Columbia to the entire East Bay of San Francisco. Understand, in those days rotgut pot was all there was, with knots of seeds and stems sometimes as big as a man’s thumb.
The Lazy R Ranch was an older house on a one acre plot hidden by trees and underbrush from the neighbor houses that sat very close to the freeway junctions of 580 and Highway 13 in the Oakland hills, a perfect spot to move a lot of product without being noticed.
The kingpin, a young Italian guy always showing his muscles in a tight Tee-shirt, chewing gum, packin’ one of the many weapons laying about, would either go himself or send one of his henchmen to San Diego in his brand new Buick Riviera, a puss, lo-rider car if I ever saw one.
In those days cars had massive trunks and the barely dry bricks of Columbian pot freshly smuggled across the border were loaded into the trunk until the springs bottomed out on the frame. When they made the return journey up the entire southern portion of the new Interstate Five to the Bay Area, they would smoke pot and drink the whole way. It was the early days and the cops were oblivious. That Buick even got stopped once with the trunk almost dragging on the pavement. The Highway patrol wrote them a ticket for speeding and sent them on their way.
When the Buick returned, ten or fifteen of us were all standing around the compound waiting, and our operation kicked into high gear. We unloaded usually a hundred fifty kilos all compacted into tight bricks wrapped in red cellophane, took them up to the house and spent the next eight or ten hours tearing those bricks apart, pulling out the extra large stems and knots of seed, then weighing them up into various size bags, smoking that pot and getting blasted out of our minds the whole time.
Once that part was complete, eight or ten of us packed what we thought we could unload and went out into the world with our wares. I usually took a pound or so.
Supplying the Tennyson Road area, I visited two or three houses waiting impatiently for me and sold wholesale most of what I had. I then took the money back to the Lazy R Ranch and did a number of repeat performances for the next few days until the hundred fifty kilos were gone. The Buick Riviera was prepared for another trip to San Diego and it went that way for maybe a year, everyone swimming in money and more pot than we could smoke.
The weekend parties that went on at the Lazy R Ranch were unparalleled, crazy, bullets flying, gun totin’, top name bands, drugs, women, you name it. Not being in the inside circle of that system I was invited to a few of those bashes, but I was young and stupid enough to be impressed and I wanted more.
Then something happened that made me walk away from that place and never return.
One day, along with the hundred fifty kilos of pot, four or five pounds of pure Peruvian cocaine came out of that trunk and I knew that very moment my time with the Lazy R Ranch was quickly coming to an end. I had no problem with pot, but I knew from experience harder drugs made people crazy, and the fact that loaded guns and knives lay around that house like candy made me a bit more than nervous.
I weaned myself of that insanely wild income and stopped going to that house.
The Lazy R Ranch hobbled on for another year or so, with stories of wilder parties and bigger and bigger hauls, and the cops never even got a hint of what was going on.
Sure enough, within a few months everyone in that house was addicted to cocaine and they were beginning to deal heroin. By the end of that year, the whole operation fell apart and eventually most of the people connected to those last days of the Lazy R Ranch either were dead or spent the next dozen years trying to overcome their addictions.