No Girls Allowed Writers Club

Since 1418 A.D.

Happy Father's Day To Me

Or Happy 56th Birthday Dear Abortion

October 10, 1968

            In the dying light of that cool autumn day, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series after  Mickey Lolich got Tim McCarver of St. Louis to pop up in the bottom of the 9th.

 I was drunk but wired on black beauties in a bar in Cambridge called the Charity Ward. The single TV set in the smoke-choked, packed bar was Black and white. The fact that my old schoolmate Tim McCarver had embarrassed himself against Detroit—one of my many hometowns and my brother John’s favorite team—provided a generous helping of schadenfreude that played to my German DNA.

 My thick, frizzy hair that had humiliated me through the hot, humid summer had finally responded to a lye-based straightener called Conk King and, though still suspect, looked a bit like the sleek beauty of Mick Jagger’s mop if I squinted in the dirty mirror behind the row of whiskey bottles which I craved to sample. Still, shots were a dollar and beer 25 cents.  And in those days, if I had $20 in my jeans, I felt as wealthy as a Beacon Hill Brahmin. The cab I was driving to pay the rent on the $75 a month cat piss-smelling room –overdue by 10 days, I could do the math–   was parked outside, and as the cheering died down, I realized through the haze I’d have to shoplift some Listerine from the Jew’s bodega down the block so at least the passengers wouldn’t chalk up my erratic driving to alcohol when I picked them up at Logan Airport—that is, after I paid off the East Boston guinea who was the  starter.   Plus I needed cigarettes.

Throwing a wet bar towel that landed perfectly square on the back of some Harvard preppie’s J.Press cashmere sweater — who was already distracted by a bevy of squealing bimbos from Wellesley—I  manfully clapped him on the back with one hand by way of apology. I scooped up his pile of money off the bar and quickly disappeared out the door. In short, a great day.

Still, most people who were 23 years old on that date were hardly likely to notice this event—so why does it remain the most significant date of all time to me?

On a deeper level, I was about to be drafted into the US Army, and secretly, I harbored visions of myself as a heroic jungle fighter. The first—maybe the only—true love of my life and I were to become strangers. I had just been thrown out of Boston University—the 23rd  school in my life—and all that education nonsense was behind me. In short, I was about to become what I always wanted to be: a man.

So the question remains. Hint: something else happened that day that sent me into a depression. I fought with drugs and suicidal bravado for the decade to follow, and something I will probably think about in my dying breaths.

            Stick with me and I promise it will all become abundantly clear

            But first, for those who think we are currently living through the most divisive time in our history, here is a brief rundown of events  from that year :

 

 

January

January 5 Dr. Benjamin Spock; William Sloan Coffin the chaplain of Yale University; novelist Mitchell Goodman; Michael Ferber, a graduate student at Harvard; and Marcus Raskin a peace activist are indicted on charges of conspiracy to encourage violations of the draft laws by a grand jury in Boston. The charges are the result of actions taken at a protest rally the previous October at the Lincoln Memorial. The four will be convicted and Raskin acquitted on June 14th.

January 10  The 10,000th  US airplane is lost over Vietnam

January 23 North Korean patrol boats captured the USS Pueblo, a US Navy intelligence gathering vessel, and its 83-man crew on charges of violating the communist country’s twelve-mile territorial limit. President Johnson used the incident as a pretext to increase the bombing over North Vietnam

January 31 At half-past midnight on Wednesday morning, the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive at Nha Trang. Nearly 70,000 North Vietnamese troops will take part in this broad action, taking the battle from the jungles to the cities. The offensive will carry on for weeks and is seen as a major turning point for the American attitude toward the war. At 2:45 that morning the US embassy in Saigon is invaded and captured.

February

February 1 During police actions following the first day of the Tet offensive General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, a south Vietnamese security official is captured on film executing a Viet Cong prisoner by American photographer Eddie Adams. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph becomes yet another rallying point for anti-war protestors. Despite later claims that the prisoner had been accused of murdering a Saigon police officer and his family, the image seems to call into question everything claimed and assumed about the American allies, the South Vietnamese.

February 2 Richard Nixon, a Republican from California, enters the New Hampshire primary and declares his presidential candidacy.

February 4 Martin Luther King Jr. delivers a sermon at his Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta which will come to be seen as prophetic. His speech contains what amounts to his own eulogy. “I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody… that I tried to love and serve humanity,. Yes, if you want to, say that I was a drum major for peace… for righteousness.”

February 7 International reporters arrive at the embattled city of Ben Tre in South Vietnam. Peter Arnett, then of the Associated Press, writes a dispatch quoting an unnamed US major as saying, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” The quote runs nationwide the next day in Arnett’s report.

February 18 The US State Department announces the highest US casualty toll of the Vietnam War. The previous week saw 543 Americans killed in action, and 2547 wounded.

March

March 12 The New Hampshire primary election brings shocking results. The Eugene McCarthy campaign, benefitting from the work of 2,000 full-time student volunteers and up to 5,000 on the weekends immediately preceding the vote comes within 230 votes of defeating the sitting president Lyndon Johnson.

March 16 Senator Robert Kennedy, former Attorney General and brother of former president John F. Kennedy (1961-63) announces he will enter  the 1968 Presidential race.  Also , though it will not become public knowledge for more than a year, US ground troops from Charlie Company rampage through the hamlet of My Lai killing more than 500 Vietnamese civilians from infants to the elderly.

March 28 Martin Luther King Jr. leads a march in Memphis which turns violent. After King himself had been led from the scene, one 16-year-old black boy was killed, 60 people were injured, and over 150 were arrested.

March 31 President Lyndon Johnson appears on television and announces he will not seek reelection.

April

On April 4, Martin Luther King Jr. spends the day at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, working and meeting with local leaders. At 6 pm, he greets friends in the courtyard and is shot with one round from a 30.06 rifle. He will be declared dead just an hour later at St. Joseph’s hospital.  Robert Kennedy, hearing of the murder just before he is to give a speech in Indianapolis, IN, delivers a powerful extemporaneous eulogy in which he pleads with the audience “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”  The King assassination sparks rioting in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Newark, Washington, D.C., and many others. Across the country, 46 deaths will be blamed on riots.

April 11, United States Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford called 24,500 military reserves to action for 2-year commitments and announced a new troop ceiling of 549,500 American soldiers in Vietnam. The total number of Americans “in country” will peak at some 541,000 in August this year, and decline to 334,000 by 1970. The remains of an average of 500 dead men a week will be delivered to those near and dear.  

April 23

An anti-war rally resulted in the occupation of the Low administrative office building at Columbia University.

May

May 3 The US and North Vietnamese delegations agree to begin peace talks in Paris later this month. The formal talks will begin on May 10.

May 6 In France, “Bloody Monday” marks one of the most violent days of the Parisian student revolt.

On May 11, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s designated successor, is granted a permit to occupy the Washington Mall with followers. Despite nearly a solid month of rain, over 2,500 people will eventually occupy what is designated  Resurrection City. On June 24th, the site is raided by police, 124 occupants are arrested, and the encampment is destroyed.

June

June 3 Andy Warhol is shot in his New York City loft by Valerie Solanis, a struggling actress, and writer.

June 4/5 On the night of the California Primary, Robert Kennedy addresses a large crowd of supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He has won victories in California and South Dakota and is confident that his campaign will go on to unite the many factions stressing the country. As he leaves, he is shot by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Jordanian living in Los Angeles. The motive for the shooting is apparently anger at several pro-Israel speeches Kennedy had made during the campaign. The 42-year-old Kennedy is declared dead hours later.

On June 8, Robert Kennedy’s funeral will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Senator Edward Kennedy, John and Robert’s youngest brother, will deliver the eulogy. After the service, the body and 700 guests will depart on a special train for the burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

July

July 7 Abbie Hoffman’s “The Yippies are Going to Chicago” is published in The Realist. The Yippies will be in the center of action six weeks later at the Chicago Democratic National Convention, hosting a “Festival of Life” in contrast to what they term the convention’s “Festival of Death.”

July 24 At the Newport (Rhode Island) Folk Festival, singer Arlo Guthrie performs his 20-minute ballad Alice’s Restaurant.

August

August 8 At their Party convention in Miami Beach the Republicans nominate Richard Nixon to be their presidential candidate. The next day Nixon will appoint Spiro Agnew of Maryland as his running mate. Nixon has been challenged by  Ronald Reagan of California.

August 20 The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia with over 200,000 Warsaw pact troops, putting an end to the “Prague Spring,” and beginning a period of enforced and oppressive “normalization.”

August 26 Mayor Richard Daley opens the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

August 28 By most accounts, on Wednesday evening, Chicago police take action against crowds of demonstrators without provocation. The police beat some marchers unconscious and send at least 100 to emergency rooms while arresting 175. 
Mayor Daley tried the next day to explain the police action at a press conference. He explains : “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.” 
September

September 1 Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey kicks off his presidential campaign at New York City’s Labor Day parade.

September 7 Women’s Liberation groups, joined by members of New York NOW, target the Miss America Contest  in Atlantic City. The protest includes theatrical demonstrations including ritual disposal of traditional female roles into the “freedom ashca

 

 

 

 

 

 

On October 10, Detroit wins World Series … And on that day …

My girlfriend tells me she is pregnant and needs $1500 to have an abortion in New York City

I could’ve begged , borrowed or stolen the cash to make her whole , but I DID NOT WANT TO …

So, Happy Father’s Day …What’s Her or His Name?

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