A war was being waged in the 1960s and 70s. The War had it's aggressors, who wielded ultimate control and had pint-sized captives as it's virtual slaves. This was a place where democracy melted into a morass of paddles and the use of those paddles were random and unpredictable. The rules if you could call them that, were capricious and subject to interpretation. It was like the hotter the temperature outside the more sadistic were the punishment. Going to the principal was the penultimate punishment. The secretary a troll who was complicit with the headmaster and whose leers portended some sinister end. Teacher's displayed paddles with holes in them and they claimed that it made more aerodynamic. Also I cannot begin to count the number of times crying of children echoed down the barren halls and over such enormous violations as failing to memorize, in it's entirety the 'Star Spangled Banner' or the 'Gettysburg Address'. Our callous behavior and truculence left them little choice. The fact that it seemed the whole school met the same fate, with kids lined up down the hall to await a burning butt and tears of terror and degradation. I remember on my birthday in the sixth grade I forgot my library book. It was policy that you received grace the first couple of times and the third time you faced the wrath of Con. In direct violation of the rules I was subjected to a paddling. I guess you could say that I got one to 'grow on'.
We also had our muses and my dad being a military lifer had his own chair and actually reminded me of Archie Bunker sans Edith and Meathead. My dad hated Meathead and his hippie wife. People with long hair were all smoking pot, dropping acid and having sex in church. These kinds of accepted propaganda made me weary of my own generation and the fact that all I said happened at school, and that our parents would side with the teacher. It sent a strong message to me and my abused behind that the Khmer Rouge operated a coven of witches in the basement of our schools.
This is the CBS Newsman who would tell us how many of our soldiers and theirs died during the Vietnam War and he always would end something like this: And that's the way it was, Tuesday July 4th, 19 Seventy 4. Goodnight! School also reminded us of the dangerous world out there when Lee Harvey Oswald set out and killed John F. Kennedy. We also lost Robert F. Kennedy and MLK. It was a time when many black players were not allowed to be in the same hotels as whites during spring training. And we children were the enemy as our butts attested to while crewcut minions followed dutifully behind. Sgt Hulka with his toe shoved this crap to an audience of babies, inflicting their moral outrage on the innocent, kind of like the massacres of terrified villagers at villages across Vietnam. A time when the carpet bombing of the Vietcong was carried out at home on the voiceless masses.
By the time I was in Junior High, away from New Jersey and into Upstate NY, we witnessed the throngs of angst-ridden youth as they traversed Rte 17 to parts unknown. New Jersey was like a ceasefire, where creased pants and greasy hair were my father's newest complaint. Remember, I was a child and teen during those years and so some of this may be slightly off. But at the same time, it is the memories of times of which five and dimes doled out tons of candy including candy cigarettes. We would stand outside the door of the store and puff our candy flicking ashes at bystanders hoping they wouldn't tell our parents. I remember as a child in Texas my friend Alan. He knew every nook and cranny of Wichita Falls and like the VietCong he had his own back alleys and trenches. Where we would get free matches from Filling Stations and gas from a neighbor. His next order of business was lighting mud puddles on fire. I also learned to rebel in my own way. After losing a book on the way to school I decided to fake the return of a book called White Tailed Deer. A place and time where I assiduously read the Box Children and away from the haunting specter of a troubled childhood. I was not the trouble but I learned how to get around by deception. Not proud of this but I know what it was and how it affects me today. I know I am missing a few newsworthy items, ideas and images that crossed our minds and spoke to our souls. We had reinvented ourselves among the din of hate speech and our own brand of apartheid. Settling in the midst of wars and the Cold War which may have driven us to the brink we settled our differences to a large extent. I believe that the aforementioned paddings and they were few to me but we have seen us come full circle. Now the next big challenge is to balance out the debate as it pertains to racism. Blacks can be racist and old ideologies and new ones must share the spotlight. I would rather a comment about race than to the degradation of women. You see it in flashpoints around the world and solar flares these events can heat the debate in our society. We can no longer name a street and expect that is the end of it. Symbolism doesn't feed families anymore than reading Alphabet Cereal enables us to learn English. Instead of imposing harsh realities upon others, we need to lighten up.
Again correct me if I err.. but this little blog cannot really convey
what happened then and for which we are still
paying for today. From the Rod to the Cycle and beyond.