Saturday, December 15, 2007

the Voting Age Coalition

The Philosophy Club in high school was more than just a discussion group. They sponsored Smuff, a food drive for Biafra, and were the Hackensack sponsors of the Voting Age Coalition. The Voting Age Coalition was a state-wide effort to decrease the voting age to 18 in New Jersey. It led to a ballot question in the November 1999 election in New Jersey.

I got to be a leader of this group and was in fact the Hackensack coordinator. I remember well the meeting we had in the auditorium of the high school. It was well attended and we teamed up people to distribute materials in their neighborhoods. One female student indicated she could distribute literature around Summit Avenue and Beach Street. I had just met someone else from the same neighborhood. I described the second lady.

"I remember her", I said in a loud voice, "she was real small and she had black hair and she had these thick glasses". Suddenly she appeared. She had frizzy hair. She met her partner to be for the leaflet distribution. She looked at her and said "bless you".

That fall Richard M. Nixon came to Hackensack High School to support Cahill's run for election as governor. Even though I had a paid job working for Meyner, I played "Hail to the Chief" along with the rest of the high school band, for Nixon and his daughter Christie. They told us to put our "Vote yes on 18" signs down.

Cahill won and the initiative was defeated. The frizzy haired young lady had a lost but not defeated party after the election. The party was held in her mother's garden apartment. The hostess laid out like a corpse on the windowsill. Eventually she came back to life. We talked. She asked me if I was happy or was it a front. We discussed colleges. We both had applied to Temple University in Philadelphia. For me it was my backup. She was planning to go there. She wanted to major in psychology.

We exchanged phone numbers and the family telephone rang like blazes after that. I was invited to watch the sun rise over the George Washington bridge. I was invited to go to New York to pick up underground newspapers for distribution in New Jersey.

We became a crowd, two black kids, a Jewish kid, two Irish girls and dear old me. We marched all over Hackensack after school. One day we walked into a delicatessen. The frizzy headed girl bought us all tongue. I never liked a food that could taste me as I was tasting it.

The group showed up at my parent's house on Christmas eve. They admired the Christmas tree and the witty thing my mother had put up on the toilet bowl with Santa covering his eyes.

The classic Christmas conflict showed it's head. Parents believed that Christmas eve should be spent with family. Kids believed that Christmas eve should be spent with friends. They believed that there was enough family time on the 25th. I had my first Christmas fight with my parents. I was now growing up. My older brother was a veteran of such conflicts.

Later that night, I ended up watching "A Christmas Carol" at the frizzy haired girl's apartment, along with a few members of the hip intellectual crowd. A few days later, I made out with the frizzy haired girl. No she had straight hair by this time.

And so the sixties ended for me. I was in a crowd. I was politically active and I had applications out for several colleges. I was a happy camper that Christmas.

The brave men of the Green Berets

He became an instant celebrity, hero, and record star. Then he had the fall from fame which so often accompanies meteoric rises. The Wikipedia entry tells the story. I first remember him when he was on the Ed Sullivan Show. He sang, what else, "the Ballad of the Green Berets". My father commented that there were marks on the stage telling him where to move after every verse.

The record was a tremendous hit, number one on all the charts, and, for a while, Americans prided themselves on living in a country where Green Berets died for us and were featured in John Wayne movies.

Then that summer, the song off the record charts but not out of our hearts, I heard that Staff Seargent Barry Sadler was singing (for free, no less) at the Bergen Mall. There I sat and watched the show. He was asked to sing "A Team" the follow up record, but he declined, saying he didn't remember how it went.

The next day I was back at the YMCA learning how to swim. I told my new swim-mates about seeing Barry Sadler. They were very impressed. The summer of 1966 was noteworthy for seeing Staff Seargent Barry Sadler sing and Peter Chu to swim at the YMCA.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New York again

A few months ago, I did a blog about New York. It was about how our parents, who had moved to Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester, felt about New York. New York used to be nice but it changed was the general idea. But the kids, the baby boomers of said parents, were attracted by New York. They liked walking around Times Square and midtown. They loved the Village, East and West. It was the land of freedom, sex, the counterculture, and drugs. Young suburbanite baby boomers drove their parents crazy by their desire to hang out in the city.


"You can hang around there if you want to. I don't see the attraction in being in a place dominated by drug crazed Negroes but if you want to, that's okay. Just get out of there (at night being replaced by) by midnight. That's when the cops all leave and it's a free for all."


"Mom, it's not that bad. How am I supposed to learn about things if I can't go to the city (whine)"

Among the hip intellectual crowd in Hackensack, a working knowledge of the city was de regure. You were supposed to know the subways. You were supposed to know the hip places to hang out near Saint Mark's Place. You were supposed to know about falafaels.

Editor's note: My blog has been discovered, albeit in a small way, by Kelly Heyboer's column, Best Blogs of New Jersey. The thing I did on underground newspapers made the list in September. Now I can wear sunglasses inside and go to Starbucks. I'm so happy.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Women in the sixties

Men in the sixties thought of women as those sweet accompaniment's to their idealistic lives. The cute things that would be by their side as they worked their career paths and for the bohemian crowd, those sweet lays looking with adoring eyes at their male heroes. Heroes fighting for civil rights, heroes fighting against hypocrisy, heroes fighting against the Vietnam war.

Women, emboldened by the civil rights movement aimed at Blacks, developed their own movement. Women had their own objectives in the sixties.

Caucasian men marched into the seventies saddened and no longer fashionable. "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle", women said. In the sixties, Caucasian men marched in like lions and marched out like lambs.