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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 07:54 PM

25. When I think of it, I get dizzy and nauseous.

 

I turned 13 that summer, but my friends all made fun of me because I watched the news and read the newspaper every day. We got quizzes from the newspaper in school every week. I didn't bother to study, because I knew all the answers. My friends memorized the answers (a, d, c, etc.) from the paper, but when the teacher mixed up the collection, everyone in the class failed but me. I also read Time, Newsweek and US Snooze and World Report every week, but a week late because my parents got them from my uncle.

For me, 1968 really started in the summer of 1967 with the Detroit riots. I'm from a small town in Michigan, but every city in that state with a black population rioted that week. That Sunday evening, I watched a line of thunderstorms come in off Lake Michigan cutting the lower peninsula in two--the north with no cities and no riots, and the south, being burned. At 9:00, the Smothers Brothers came on, much to my parents' chagrin. They let me watch sometimes, but ignored the TV until we started getting emergency bulletins directing all national guard troops and state police officers to report to their posts immediately. They kept coming every five minutes, and parents started to get nervous. We normally went to bed at ten, but we all stayed up for the 11:00 news because obviously something bad was happening. At 11, our northern Michigan station showed some rioting, and that was all that was on all week during the news. It looked really bad. The Dad of one of my friends was a state trooper and got called down. I got a very santized version from her, but that was bad enough. We did our back-to-school shopping in the small city 40 miles to the south, but that city saw very bad rioting that went on for 3 weeks at least. The shopping area was completely closed off. Finally, two weeks before school, the local police opened up an area in the southern outskirts with a JC Penney and a Meijers (local Wal-Mart-Target-ish thing) just so kids and parents could get clothing and supplies. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in the riot-torn area. I just can't.

I remember that the war just kept going like it would never end. I remember looking up the population of Vietnam in the World Book Encyclopedia that we had a home, and judging that by Gen. Westmoreland's body count numbers, we'd killed just about every military aged male in Vietnam. Then I put up an LBJ dartboard in my school locker. Then the assassination of Dr. King with more riots, waking up to a dead RFK, more war. It just never stopped.

For me, though, it was the '68 Democratic Convention. I had an aunt and uncle in the Chicago area who LOVED Mayor Daly. That's Hizzoner, the First Mayor Daly. I watched that convention all the time, and my parents let me stay up late again. The baby blue helmets, the kids, only a couple years older than me, getting heads bashed in in the parks that I had visited during many summer trips. The mules in downtown Chicago, and my aunt calling and crowing about how wonderful Mayor Daly was. I thought that she had lost her mind.

Then the police rioted on the floor of the convention! They were breaking the heads of the delegates! The delegates! And there was Mayor Daly egging them on. It was so wild that I can't remember who it was who kissed the TV screen showing some sort of riot, maybe Daly, maybe HHH.

I was so burned out after that. I couldn't even feel the horror of Nixon getting elected in November. I was just numb. Just numb. I loved my aunt and uncle, but it took time before I could look at them and not see Mayor Daly's screaming face.

During the time of the 2008 election, I had a Turkish roommate. She was terrified with the raucous election. She asked me if the country was going to fall apart and civil war break out. I told her that 2008 was nothing compared to 1968, and related a bit about that. She was dumbfounded that we'd survived. I told her not to worry until there were deadly fights on the floor of Congress and aggrieved citizens had broken into the armories and stolen military equipment. Frankly, those were about the only things that didn't happen in 1968. And I hope that they don't happen anytime soon, either.

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