Reliving My Dream of Being a Radial Protester

ANTI-VIETNAM WAR PROTESTS

SPILLED OVER FROM THE STREETS INTO THE RANKS OF GRADUATING COLLEGE SENIORS IN 1969.
SPILLED OVER FROM THE STREETS INTO THE RANKS OF GRADUATING COLLEGE SENIORS IN 1969.

OTHER "FACES" OF PROTESTING

NATIONAL GUARDSMEN were often used to control and strike fear into anti-war protesters from 1968 through 1972. The Guardsmen were used at Kent State University to control an anti-war rally and four innocent students lost their lives.
NATIONAL GUARDSMEN were often used to control and strike fear into anti-war protesters from 1968 through 1972. The Guardsmen were used at Kent State University to control an anti-war rally and four innocent students lost their lives.
POLICE CONFRONT PROTESTERS who are voicing their anti-Vietnam War opinions as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of The Constitution of The United States of America.
POLICE CONFRONT PROTESTERS who are voicing their anti-Vietnam War opinions as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of The Constitution of The United States of America.
AN ANTI-RACISM RALLY sparked the Civil Rights Movement in America that prompted passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 giving all citizens of America equal rights.
AN ANTI-RACISM RALLY sparked the Civil Rights Movement in America that prompted passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 giving all citizens of America equal rights.
HUGE ANTI-WAR SIGNS were erected at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair to voice artists' protests against the Vietnam War.
HUGE ANTI-WAR SIGNS were erected at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair to voice artists' protests against the Vietnam War.
BURNING DRAFT CARDS were symbolic protest gestures to show resentment for the Vietnam War.
BURNING DRAFT CARDS were symbolic protest gestures to show resentment for the Vietnam War.
THE NAACP CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTS were landmark in securing African-Americans the rights to vote and equal rights with all citizens of the United States.
THE NAACP CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTS were landmark in securing African-Americans the rights to vote and equal rights with all citizens of the United States.
JIMI HENDRIX lent his amazing talents to the many musicians and singers who made Woodstock the biggest outdoor event in history.
JIMI HENDRIX lent his amazing talents to the many musicians and singers who made Woodstock the biggest outdoor event in history.
WOODSTOCK MUSIC AND ART FAIR this is the most-famous of all rock festival posters.
WOODSTOCK MUSIC AND ART FAIR this is the most-famous of all rock festival posters.

I DON'T CARE HOW YOU SLICE IT

or spin it, from 1967 through 1972, our country was a "hotbed of turmoil." Changes were inevitable. People of all ages were weary of how things were being engineered in our country, namely, the Vietnam Conflict, which by all standards, was an out and out war. But in order for a war to be a legal war, the United States Congress has to pass a measure stating that a "conflict" isn't a war until they say that it is. So I wish now in 2012, that someone of higher political intelligence would explain the nearly 1 million young men who were butchered in Vietnam and Cambodia. No takers, huh? Figures.

I'm not about to waste your time talking about how "I" truly felt about this "blood bath," of a "conflict," in Vietnam when our country used the Draft to "snag" young men between the ages of 18 and 22, to become unwilling soldiers in a war that notable political minds said couldn't be, or wouldn't be won. The Vietnam "conflict," was a huge money-maker for such American corporations as: Dow Chemical, the company responsible for napalm, BF Goodrich, and other "factories of war," whose profits hit skyrocket heights at the expense of our young men who paid "the" ultimate price of giving their very lives for nothing more than a political skirmish.

I can see the point of our country defending our own shores, (e.g. "9-1-1, World Trade Center airline bombings), and even to the point of helping out our "true" allies abroad, in the case then, South Vietnam who didn't want to be ruled by Communists, but after a few years of lives and money spent, I personally think that the political (and military) powers "behind the curtain," knew that the Vietnam War was just too good to stop while so much money was being made for Wall Street and their endless parades of investors--mostly huge corporations.

I said all that to say this, "I personally, while sitting in an official, high school-approved wooden desk, in the classroom of the now-late Mr. Ruble Shotts, a fine man and wonderful teacher who taught my class (1972) and I the subject of American Economics, had a dream of soon becoming a radial protester." No one around me, including my trusting parents knew what was in my heart. Now if you were raised in a middle-working-class home like I was, it was sheer taboo to even speak the word "protest," or be verbally-bombarded by my dad, an Army vet, (and I did respect that), who said that the cause of all the turmoil in America, including "those long haired hippies, marching in the streets," as he called them, was all because of The Beatles coming to America. He believed that through and through. I knew, even at my young age of 17, I was in a no-win debate, so I kept my dream of being a protester to myself.

You know what was funny? You seldom heard of any group of young people in rural America being seen on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. That included my few friends who shared by protester-dreams as we all knew (in our motley group) that "we" wouldn't be putting Hamilton High School, Hamilton, Alabama, on the map or in the news for marching on our courthouse in the center of town where our "draft board" was located. For the most part, my friends and I were actually fearful of Mrs. Edith Wright, the one, solitary member of the Draft Board of Marion County, Alabama. That's right, folks. Our Draft Board was run by one lady, who didn't like it when on my eighteenth birthday, I climbed those obscure, gray-colored courthouse steel stairs to the second floor where she worked in her office signing boys like my friends and I up for the Draft and soon to be shipped somewhere for basic training in the U.S. Army.

Wright bristled with anger as I asked how I was to answer this actual question from one of the many redundant forms I had to fill-out that traumatic day when I turned eighteen. The question read: Name 7 people who are not family, friends, or neighbors, who will know of your whereabouts at all times. "Mrs. Wright," I said meekly. "Who does that leave? I do not know seven strangers who would even take time to know or care about my whereabouts." She glared. Then flared her nostrils that looked like a fire-breathing dragon's nose and snapped, "Oh, just put somebody down there!" And I did just that. To this day, there are seven strangers, hopefully still alive in Hamilton, Alabama, that I used as my contacts if the U.S. Army wanted to find me.

Even with this Federal Government Department of Defense-approved paperwork snafu, I still wanted to join the ranks of the rebellious, radical and outspoken young men and women who were willing to lay down their school books and pick up a sign that said, "make love, not war," and trod the pavement to get someone in power to listen to reason and stop the "conflict" in Vietnam.

And here, for your approval, are some of the major reasons that I dreamed of being a protester--anti-Vietnam, or any other cause. I just wanted to be a protester.

MARCHING WITH CROWDS looked like "big fun" to me as I watched college students from major colleges, USC, UCLA and The University of Berkeley, march almost daily--holding banners condemning the Vietnam War. They were always smiling and grinning. Must have been like I said, "big fun." And if you lived in Hamilton, Alabama, my hometown, there wasn't any "big fun," "regular fun," or any fun for that matter. The town was owned and ruled by adults.

BURNING MY DRAFT CARD now that was one, sure-fire, convincing reason that I wanted to be a protester. I did, thanks to Mrs. Edith Wright, my Draft Board, receive all of my Federal Government-issued military paperwork including my draft card that I still have today. The instructions said on the card, "keep this card on your person all of the time," well I did for a few years. Now at age 58, it is in a strong box in some closet in my house. I would have been delighted to hold up my draft card as reporters' cameras clicked and set fire to this one-way "ticket to Hades," that the Department of Defense issued to draft registrees.

LISTENING TO AND MEETING FAMOUS SINGERS such as folk music legend, Pete Seeger and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Not to mention Gracie Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe McDonald, who led the famous "gimme an "f" cheer at Woodstock, Arlo Guthrie, son of another folk legend, Woody Guthrie, Jim Morrison of the Doors, and guitar master, Jimi Hendrix. You couldn't beat this "paradise on earth" filled with talent, inspiration and bold music that changed how my friends, those in my small protester wannabe group, chose to think about Vietnam and life itself. And I might have scored a few free LP's in the process.

GETTING AN F.B.I RECORD the hot girls in my class of 1972, in Hamilton High School, loved "bad boys," and their reputations for smoking weed, rebelling against "the man," and tearing-down the establishment. Now in my case, I didn't exist to these brunette and blond goddesses. I just knew that if I could get myself arrested for voicing my dissent against the Vietnam War, I mean, "conflict," these ravishing beauties would literally throw themselves on me. So what if I got an F.B.I. record? Who needed a job in 1971, when you were eighteen, full of life and dreams and hoping to get a car when you graduated high school.

WEARING TIE-DYE CLOTHING this speaks for itself. I loved tie-dye jeans and tee-shirts. I was pretty good at this new-wave art from San Francisco. One summer day during summer vacation from school, I got a pair of my favorite Wrangler jeans, a bottle of mama's Clorox and a few rubber bands I had collected from the floors at school, and set-out to design myself a pair of true tie-dye jeans. I followed the instructions in some radial teen magazine, PARADE or something, and you wouldn't believe the attractive circles and designs that came out on my jeans. And I couldn't believe that I could be so stupid as to say, "mama, look at what I done today," when she came home from work. And couldn't believe that my "saintly" mother could talk with the harshness of a Marine drill instructor to an inductee who had screwed-up.

THROWING ROCKS was a favorite past time of mine. This fit right in with my dream of being a protester. Most anti-war or whatever protesters were protesting a certain event that they didn't like, all threw rocks. At the police. Mostly through the windows of their college office buildings. I thought it to be huge to be able to hurl rocks and hear the sound of windows of my classroom at Hamilton High School smashing to the tile floors. But getting someone to get me out of jail was another thing.

ATTENDING ROCK FESTIVALS such as the Woodstock Music and Art Fair held in August, 1969. Everyone knows that a seasoned-protester who is worth his chant, has to be in attendance at a wild and hairy rock festival that has illegal drugs, fights, and the occasional sliding in mud holes caused by the rainfall. You see. I knew that I had "missed the train," by not getting to attend Woodstock or any rock festival. How I longed to be locked-up with my friends and our photo be seen in our only daily newspaper, The Birmingham News, Birmingham, Alabama.

That dream, like all of my dreams of being a protester went up in smoke. So to speak.

And when the good people of America who had been pushed around by the huge, greedy banks of Wall Street, staged the now-famous "Occupy Wall Street," that was seen almost nightly on the national news networks, I also missed that, my last chance of being a protester.

And honestly. Who, in high places of power, would be alarmed to listen to me, a 58-year old guy, afflicted with two incurable skeletal and muscular diseases, can barely hobble around my house, and not even drive a car.

No one. Oh, how the near-lethal mental attacker, the "What if's" hurt when you get my age.

This hub is lovingly-dedicated to "my group," of protester wannabe's . . .Hardwick Gregg who now sells trail bicycles somewhere in Alabama; the late Al Wynn, a wonderful guy and a natural electric guitar talent; Bobby Johnson, who lives in whatever rehab facility that is nearest him; John Tyra, a successful lawyer in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Vicky Mason and her brother, Boody, two huge anti-war protesters and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fans and the illusive Mickey Mills, a transfer student who only went to my high school about three months. He was kicked-out for some trouble he and our head football coach, L.E. Fowler had concerning him, Mills, walking on our new gym floor.

"It was a nice ride while it lasted."

WOODSTOCK ROCK FESTIVAL

IN AUGUST, 1969, WAS NAMED IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS AS "THE LARGEST CROWD IN HISTORY TO ATTEND AN OUTDOOR MUSIC FESTIVAL."
IN AUGUST, 1969, WAS NAMED IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS AS "THE LARGEST CROWD IN HISTORY TO ATTEND AN OUTDOOR MUSIC FESTIVAL."

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE OLD AND YOUNG

CONVERGED ON WASHINGTON, D.C, IN 1970 TO VOICE THEIR DISAPPROVAL AND RESENTMENT OF HOW THE UNITED STATES WAS SENDING 18-YEAR OLD BOYS TO FIGHT IN THE VIETNAM WAR.
CONVERGED ON WASHINGTON, D.C, IN 1970 TO VOICE THEIR DISAPPROVAL AND RESENTMENT OF HOW THE UNITED STATES WAS SENDING 18-YEAR OLD BOYS TO FIGHT IN THE VIETNAM WAR.

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Comments 13 comments

anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

Ken, I have to come back and read this later. Just wanted you to check your email. A friend of mine sent me some material I think you would like to look into. Ann


YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

Great reminisce of the 60's - just slightly before my time. LBJ was a bad man. The whole flower/peace subculture raised America's spirit at a time when politics were economic and evil.


Sueswan 4 years ago

Great hub Kenneth!

Make love not war. :)

Voted up and away!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear ann,

Yes, do come back and let this saturate your mind. It's a fun trip down "Memory Lane." And would YOU RESEND the material to my address: kennethavery5376@yahoo.com one more time and mark it IMPORTANT? Thanks and I will look into it.

Kenneth


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, YogaKat . . .you are so right. "Love of money," is still the root of (an) evil" as true in the 60s and even in 2012. The almighty dollar and the quest of it, has taken many lives and ruined many others. Oh God, please show us ignorant humans just how to live with YOU and each other.

Kenneth


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dearest Susan . . .thanks so very much! "Make love, not war," a TRUE 60's anti-war poster saying I happen to see on a documentary about Vietnam on PBS. What a time to live in America. Glad we all made it.

Have a sweet day, Susan and watch out for Yellow Cabs.

Kenneth


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

After reading that, I sooooooo want to see a picture of you with tie dye and long hair. Can you muster up one somewhere?

Fun article, with a political view. I remember the long hair and the Beatles mania. I kinda liked all of it.

Going to find that email, and I will send it and mark it important.

AD


hoteltravel profile image

hoteltravel 4 years ago from Thailand

Eighteen and rebellion go hand in hand. In fact there were genuine reasons to turn a protestor in those days. But I don't think the parents of 60s agreed. Great hub on a delicate topic laced with humor. Voted up and awesome.


ImKarn23 profile image

ImKarn23 4 years ago

Don't forget General Electric as some of the biggest money maker of war! Vietnam was a political fiasco and everyone seems to forget! We ship our men off to war now - 2, 3, 4 times - with no regard for their mental well-being or that of their families (never mind their physical). That bitch who sent boys to their death with attitude and flared nostrils? She's multiplied into the majority - it seems to me! Life has less and less meaning. I've even heard rumor that some 'powers that be' would prefer the boys NOT come home injured and needing 'help' - as, this becomes such a financial drain-doncha know! To be FORCED to upgrade military hospitals should say more than enough - and yet...sigh..NOW..you've got my motor running on a nice saturday morning with coffee and cookies..lol


anndavis25 profile image

anndavis25 4 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

Imkarn's on a soap box! You tell'em girl! Run for office! I'll support you.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Ann, (for both of your comments) "Thanks for the comment about "me" in tie dye and long hair. I could probably rummage through my "storage room" where all of my radical 60's LP's are stored and find one. YOU WILL not know me though. And I agree with your comment to ImKarn, she is right on the money . . .and yep, I'd vote for her in a heartbeat."

Hey, let's start or re-start the 60's Revolution in 2012 against High Taxes, High Gas Prices, Lying Politicians, The Phasing Out of Elderly Americans and Making Us, The Middle Class The Pack Mule of The Rich . . .man, I'm angry as a hornet now thanks to ImKarn! Hey, bring me my bandanna, my peace sign and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and a psychedelic-colored bus and we will be on our way . . .hold on, Ann, this ride WILL be bumpy!

Kenneth


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, hoteltravel . . .I'm settled down now. What a flashback. Thank you for your insight in your comment. 18 and rebellion DO go hand-in-hand. Thanks for the reminder. I loved it.

Kenneth


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

ImKarn . . .girl, you are a genuine American. A great protester. You can lead me, Ann and hoteltravel and anyone else who wants to join our protest against the items mentioned in my reply to Ann above . . .and you can drive our psychedelic-colored bus. Would ya?

Thanks, Kenneth

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