Living is a sort of continuum; that is, it is a flow of events that are related to each other, have a certain cohesion, but vary from hour to hour as the life progresses. It is possible for changes to occur and not even be noticed until some future point when you can look back upon them.
Think of your looks. We all have in our heads an image of ourselves and each morning when we awake and stare in the mirror we see that image. We might see a wrinkle here or a gray hair there and think nothing of it, but then one day we see a picture of ourselves from a few years earlier and, boy, have there been changes. Wo the heck is that creepy ld man? Anyway, life is that way. We don’t really notice some of the changes until later when we experience the consequences.
The fact that we looked less rebellious in mid-1968 than in 1967 is a delusion for our appearance was deceiving. The life lived throughout 1967 continued on seemingly the same, but wasn’t. I was still working at Atlantic Richfield as a Regional Ledgerman, promoted to that position just that January. I was still doing my writing on the side. I was still an Atheist and we still took occasional parts in protests. We still did a lot of sponging off my parents for meals. In other words, time went by and we carried on as usual, at least we did as we entered 1968.
This is what makes writing an autobiography difficult. Each day may be different, but not by much. You don’t want to be writing, “I got up this morning. Drove to Paoli and rode the Pennsylvania Mainliner into Philadelphia. Walked several blocks to the ARCo headquarters where I spend several hours sifting through and matching up IBM punched cards. Went home by the same route in reverse. Had dinner with Lois. Spent a couple hours alone in a room with a typewriter producing a new story. Went down stairs and spent the rest of the evening with my wife.” That account was a typical day, but nobody wants to read page after page of a typical routine day. Therefore, you mention your daily life and then concentrate on those matters that weren’t routine.
Amidst the daily grind, this was to be a most dangerous year.
Amidst the daily grind, this was to be a most dangerous year.
"Yippies" stood for the Youth International Party and in 1968 they ran Pegasus the Pig for President. Unlike the Hippies, whose name they punned off of, the Yippies were boisterous, profane, visible and intrusive and known for their pranks and street theater. They were more militant than the Hippies. Two of the Yippie founders, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, later found themselves among the infamous Chicago 7. The appearance of the Yippies should have been a warning that the times were indeed a-changin’. It was clear we hadn't really given peace a chance.
1968 was a Presidential election year. The Democratic Party was somewhat split. Early on a Senator, Eugene McCarthy (right), jumped into the race to take on President Johnson. McCarthy was highly critical of the Vietnam War and the youth were drawn to him. He was similar in this appeal to the young to Bernie Sanders. There were even a number of Hippies who cut their hair and shaved off their beards in order to support McCarthy’s peace movement and they coined a slogan, “Get Clean with Gene.”
McCarthy was doing quite well in the first primaries, but then Lyndon Johnson proclaimed on March 31 that he would not seek another term as President. This threw things into turmoil. Robert F. Kennedy, President JFK’s brother had stayed on the sidelines, but now he jumped in with both feet and began building a heavy following.
I came up behind the crowd from South 15th Street and pushed myself into the melee. In those days I was bigger than your average bear at 6 foot and nearly 200 pounds. There was ahead of me a small woman, who was being battered by the crowd and at one point with the cops herding everyone up against the buildings, she was in danger of being crushed against the stones of whatever structure lined that area. I stepped to her side and created a shield with my body to keep the surging crowd off her. I could withstand their shoving and pushing, but it was obvious she couldn’t and it was also obvious she was frightened. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t done that she would have suffered some kind of injury.
Of course, Kennedy wasn’t on time, which only made matters worse. The waiting crowd was growing impatient and the cops were growing angrier. People were beginning to defy the officers' orders and plunge more and more into the street and traffic. Then an hour late Bobby Kennedy and his group showed up. They eased into the crowd on Chestnut to the middle of the intersection. The flood gates opened, cop or no, and people swept into the streets and surrounded Kennedy’s open convertible. Robert stood up on the back seat and gave a speech and everyone there just cheered and cheered as I turned back to work. The small woman seemed safe enough. The herd had shifted forward and she had hung back out of dangers path.
when in 1967 he escaped from the prison in a bread truck. He moved around the country, underwent plastic surgery to change his face and in March took a long cross country trip from where he was hiding in Los Angeles to Atlantic, Georgia. He bought a .03-06 caliber Remington rifle in Birmingham and eventually went to Memphis to intercept King. For an escaped convict he seemed to travel around fairly easily. After killing King he drove from Memphis to Toronto, Canada. Two months after the assassination he was arrested in the Heathrow Airport trying to leave Britain. He was eventually sentence to 99 years in the pen. He died there in 1998 at the age of 70.
During the month of April, tone of the less threatening events occurred. The musical “Hair” opened on Broadway, declaring this the Age of Aquarius and bringing full nudity to the legitimate theater. If “Hair” was a celebration of the Hippie beliefs in peace and love, it wasn’t playing out that way in the real world at all. Perhaps it would have been a more peaceful world if everyone went about nude. Difficult to get into fights when you are feeling that vulnerable.
Kennedy’s death opened wide the whole White House race for the Democrats. Senator George McGovern (right) was quick to jump in as a substitute for Kennedy. He split the followers of Eugene McCarthy. With Lyndon Johnson not running, Hubert Horatio Humphrey, the current Vice-President, decided to jump into the battle. Humphrey eventually won the nomination at the embattled Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
The Republicans had nominated Richard M. Nixon (who apparently is for 4th Cousin). His runner ups were Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney These names would pop up in the future and dominate Republican politics, but 1968 belonged to Nixon.
There was a strong third party candidate that year, who actually won 13 percent of the electoral college. He ran on a segregation platform for what was called the American Independent Party. This was former Democratic Governor of Alabama, George C. Wallace. Shown here blocking the doorway of the University of Alabama when it was ordered to admit Black students. Wallace would become a near assassination victim himself. While running again for President in 1972, he ws gunned down in Laurel, Maryland. The wound left him paralyzed.
If this was the country then, what about me? Well, 1968 was a more dangerous year for my marriage than I knew.