Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I dream of shadows, long and deep

***** this is a draft of something I wrote back in May. A first draft. It ain't no never mind. But for lack of anything else, I post it now. tell me what you think.
"ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now."

Before I feel asleep last night I heard on a news show that it was 45 years ago that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, on June 4th, 1968. And I was thrown back in time. That was the summer I came of age, which I always thought of as a dumb thing to say.  I mean, what age are we talking about anyway?  First kiss, first beer, first fist fight, first drunk, first time you got laid?  Well, other than the last, I had already done all the former, the last item would not take place for another year,  and I was still short of my 16th birthday that summer.   I had fine tuned the art of shaving with my father's Gillette two side blue blade by then, after a year of trying to turn my face into cole slaw in my efforts to rid my countenance of a rapid and extremely dense black hair growth.  Felt it made me look way too much like the farmers that came into town on saturdays and hung out at the feed mill.  I was a TOWN boy and noway wanted to look like the hayseed kids that didn't shave at all and appeared scruffy and uneducated for lack of trying.
But it was Bobby's murder that set the tone for that summer, for me, and for all the innocence I may still have had at that point.
I always will remember watching it on my own TV, and ancient 12 inch model that Al at the newspaper had given me.  It worked well enough with the rabbit ears, and all, but you did have to jump up often and fine tune the dial or move the antennae, yet it wtill made me a bit special among my friends because I did have one after all and they didn't.  I also had a regular job, which most didn't and that summer it paid me the extravagant wage of $1.15  per hour.  At the newspaper.  It was a small establishment that published twice a week, or to be honest, it was two weeklies that were run from the same office, by the same staff, The Sparta Herald on Mondays and the Monroe County Democrat that ran on Thursdays.  My Dad was the Advertising manager for both and the year before, when there was an opening for the magnificently named  position of 'Shit Kid',well he made sure I filled it.  I am not kidding either.... that was the name of the job, or at least what all the pressman in the back called me, as in " kid, do this shit,"  or " kid, come ere; got shit for you to do," or 'kid, you doan know shit." .I rather liked the place, the gruffy pressmen.  I ran ad copy to the groceries for Dad, delivered the job printing, the funeral cards to the funeral homes, was the spare hands on press day, and came in on Saturday's and emptied the waste cans, ashtrays and mopped the floor.  In only one year I had gone from the minimum wage of $.85 to the princely $1.15.  I did like the place.... I heard things... politics, city gossip, got to hang out in a REAL bar some Friday's when Dad and the Editor would have 'business' meetings.  It was good.

But then Bobby was shot.... not long after Martin Luther King was shot....

'..... and the shit broke out in Watts











And the stuff from Nam filled the news, Khe Sanh, My Lai, the Tet offensive...
... and protests were breaking out all over, Madison, Columbia, Howard University...Johnson announced he would not see re-election. Eugene McCarthy was making peace waves. And I was very concerned about making the Varsity Football team.

...and there were Black Panter shoot-outs,  everyone was starving in Biafra, the Czech Spring ended with a Soviet invasion.... the World was getting smaller and now that our family finally had gotten cable TV and moved from three channels to 12, it was in our living room, in color, though, as in many other things in life, the color needed constant attention and tuning least it be too red, or blue or green.  And adjust you must, see, or you would miss that brand new show on TV, Laugh-In......

 ....though my favorite show was still the Smothers Brothers.

* well that is far as I got. the first time. I pulled this up because I thought it was time to throw up a post. I do forget where I was going with all that. I know, later that year, I did get a driver's license...I did make the Varsity... the youngest kid on the squad. but the summer was over. Just like this one. And now I watch the news and there is ....nothing...about a war that still lingers. I was back home for a while last summer....and walked the old main street. Most of the stores that once were there...are closed or turned into new& used shops...heavy on the used. But there is a Walmart. Oh boy. Back then...I liked the fall...now...the shadows at night come in too quickly for me to embrace them. I am not sure where I am going now...and I do care. Back then, I didn't....just moved through the days. it is funny how time works....and how the shadows of everything you knew can sometimes creep up on you, and that voice says, 'sleep, boy, it's all ok.

8 comments:

susan said...

and shortly thereafter a number of us began living together in communes where we tried to figure out how to make our world a saner yet sillier place..

I like what you've written so far. In spite of all the madness we've witnessed I'm glad we got to be young, naive and idealistic. It's still all okay.

Kulkuri said...

I kinda remember way back then, thought it was a damn shame that Bobby got killed. Has anybody ever figured out why he was shot??

I was making about the same wages except I was in the military and there was no such thing as overtime pay. Just work as many hours as you were told and get the same check every month.

okjimm said...

Susan....thanks. I think when I started writing I was rather thinking that , well, as weird as things got in 68 at least we got news.
We still have a war in Afgahnistan....and hear nothing. there really is not much real follow-up on political stories...but a whole shit load of stuff about Lindsey, and Brittany,Miley,Kim...just bullshit news.

Kulkuri.... but I always have to stop and remember that a burger was 19 cents, a movie 75 and a whole tank of gas would set you back $2.30

Sherry Peyton said...

Whatever you write, it makes me smile, and remember and that is a good thing. :)

Tom Harper said...

I loved the Smothers Brothers; also Laugh-In. And that was the year The Graduate was released. Heady times.

Leslie Parsley said...

FOUND IT! DUH. Still a neat piece of writing.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Time does put things into perspective, don't it? I don't know why Bobby was killed except that maybe there were people who were afraid he'd be moving us too far to the left and that would be a problem. This country was founded on genocide more than democracy I'm afraid to say, but when we were young we were taught the idealistic version of our nation's history and purpose and we all actually wanted us to live up to that ideal.

Larry said...

"And the stuff from Nam filled the news, Khe Sanh, My Lai, the Tet offensive...
... and protests were breaking out all over"


I was on R&R from Vietnam in Kuala Lumpur when I got news from a Malaysian taxi driver that Bobby had been shot. I was devastated and wondered what the hell I was fighting in that goddam war for anyway. I was 19 and would be returning home on the 24th of December, one day after my twentieth birthday. Too young to still buy a beer in the states.

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