Re: Origins of the Peace (Victory) sign

Eric Noble (
Tue, 25 Jun 1996 09:02:34 -0400

Emmett Grogan, in his book Ringolevio, claims to be the originator
(athough unintentional) of the 60s Peace sign. Here's the relevant
passage from the book (starting on page 253):

[Five of the Diggers had been busted on Halloween night, 1966, for a
guerilla theater event that took place in the intersection of Haight
and Ashbury streets. A month or so later, the charges were dropped,
and a photographer snapped a photo of the the group coming out of the
courthouse. This appeared with a caption next morning on page one of
the San Francisco Chronicle. Emmett is describing the stances each of
the Diggers took in the photo (he refers to himself in the third
person throughout the book)...]

"Emmett, still wearing his army boots, with a scarf knotted around
his neck, an IRA cap flopping on his head, and a cigarette loosely
hanging from the corner of his smile, was one step upstage from his
pals, staring out at the reader from above the middle finger and
index finger of his right hand, raised in the sign of a backwards V
which to the English and Irish means 'Up Your Ass!' and is the
equivalent of the American, lone, uplifted, middle finger.

"The photo seemed as big as life to Emmett, and he wondered if it
meant any trouble. He didn't like too many people knowing about him,
and now half the city was probably going to know all their names
before the day was out. He finished his coffee and then thumbed a
ride up Haight Street to Clayton. As he was walking up the hill to
the house where the stew was being fixed and the station wagon was
parked, several people called out to him by name and flashed him a
V-sign. He stopped a few of them and explained that they had it all
wrong. 'You've got to turn your hand around 'n flash it backwards.
Like giving someone the finger. See . . .' and he showed them. But
there were too many to bother about and by the time he went over to
the Panhandle at 4 P.M. for something to eat, everyone was waving the
V-sign to him and to one another, saying things like, 'Peace,
brother.' 'When are you going to run for mayor, Emmett?' It was
depressing. There he was, on the front page of the town's only
morning newspaper, telling everyone to shove it all up their ass, and
they thought he was just imitating Winston Churchill or something.
'Fuck it!' He decided there was no way to make the hippies hip to it,
and besides he had better things to do."

For further information, please visit my Digger Archives web site at:


Eric Noble

> In the sixties I used to get flashed the Peace sign ( V as in victory
> not the drawn one ) when I was riding my motorcycle. I never thought
> about how it got adapted from the V - Victory sign of my fathers
> generation to the symbol of Hi/Peace in the sixties. Does anyone know
> how/when/whom started to use it that way?
> Thanks,
> Mike Rappe'