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Voices Ignored From Our Past

Updated on October 26, 2011

Maybe they knew something I didn't


I know they did. They had to know more than I did. For I was only an awkward kid, fourteen years old with a head full of emptiness. I am honest. I didn’t have that much to think about in 1968. There was the Beatles, the Drug Culture in its beginnings, short skirts and ‘wild’ rock music. Outta sight, man, as folk-legend, Arlo Guthrie would say. He’s still around. Did you know that?

I remember it well. Honest to God, I can’t forget the day although I’ve tried many times. The day that our history teacher, a right-wing (who was right wing before that name was popular) conservative, a Mr. Ruble Shotts. A stern man. But plenty fair. Hard to fool. Not that I tried. Easy to argue with for he graded our discussion skills. I feared this man who seldom smiled. It was in his room, an air-conditioned room, thank God, that first witnessed the films and anti-this and anti-that of the mid to late 50’s. My eyes were opened. My mouth stayed shut. I never dreamed that our country had become so involved in making films to protect us from ‘the red menace,’ Communism. Go on. Say it. Communism. See? The universe didn’t fold up. And other sensitive topics such as sex, (gulp), atomic fall-out (this was during the Cold War against Russia) and ‘weed,’ as hippies used to say. The dangerous drug called marijuana. Yes, our government dabbled when it should have educated in a sensible, adult fashion about this drug that today, has lost its fizz somehow.

My face, I know was red with embarrassment. My buddy, Joe Mays, a malcontent like I was, sat only two rows over from me and he did his very best to make me burst into laughter with his whispered satirical remarks that were amazingly-funny for a quiet guy like Joe. But I kept myself in control as the films kept rolling and Mr. Shotts kept patrolling the room for students (like Joe and myself) who didn’t care that much about our country’s past, but its future--by way of the Vietnam War, I mean conflict. And other social issues that Joe and I feared.

I wanted to laugh. I really wanted to roll in the aisle with tears steaming down my acne-infected cheeks, but not as much at Joe’s hilarious remarks, but the black and white films that were actually shown in homes during this tense time in our country. And shown in theatres across the country. All for the sole reason of building unity among the United States citizens to band together against Communism, Cuba and Castro, sex, rock music, and of course, marijuana. Speaking of drugs. I found out in later years that our own U.S. Army with the allegiance of the C.I.A. conducted secret experiments with the mind-altering drug, LSD, on willing volunteers from the Army. Why didn’t they tell about that? I would have loved to known what LSD stood for. And what it would do if taken orally. But I, like you, were kept in the dark. A safe place. If you are a common rodent.

Without sounding like a troublemaker. Rabble rouser. A protest marcher. I just wanted to get that off my chest. At my age now, I couldn’t care less what our government does or doesn’t do. I am too near time to leave this walks of life to worry that much about those in power in our nation’s capitol. What real good would it do for me to worry anyhow? Can you higher-of-IQ tell me that? I thought so. It has taken me since Nov. 27, 1953, to arrive at this place in life that used to be reserved for old folks when I was sixteen. Oh, how the years and time have joined hand-in-hand to walk away from me.

Factually, I am very repentant for the way I mocked. Made fun. Laughed at these now-vintage black and white films, that I was totally-shocked when I found out that our friends at YouTube had them in their files. Why am I now sorry, but not then? Well write it off as unlearned ways of the teenager. I knew better. But I didn’t obey my conscience. I laughed and laughed at these film, with and without my pal, Joe, who I cannot answer for whether he is sorry now or not for is part of the fun-making of these films that were meant for my good. Gee, do I feel ignorant. And shameful now.

I will take up, some, for the federal government and whatever agency had the daunting responsibility to film these movies. I guess they were hard to do. But a lot easier then than now in 2011. The fine-line, or gray area, if you will, of our personal and political morals has been moved and moved so much that who really knows what is right. And what is wrong anymore? I find it a one-man quest each day to treat God the way He wants me to treat Him and my neighbor in my hometown or somewhere in Tel Aviv, as myself. I guess that is the way life has shaken out for me.

So, on behalf of myself and my good buddy, Joe, who by the way, lives well in California, I offer to the government agencies whose duty and job it was to film these short movies for us to learn something from to make us a better American, my deepest and most-sincere apologies, for all of my fun-making, laughing and mocking how outdated these movies were in 1968.

Some things in my life I couldn’t help.

Neither could the government when it came to keeping public information films upgraded.

Now, a word from our sponsor.

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