1972 – the surprise party

New Hampshire primary

Awkward
From TheAwkwardYetti.com

Mar 5 – After playing pool with Uthaclena, I stopped at the vending machine. I took off my boots to keep my roommate’s floor clean. One of my socks came off. I walked into my room. I saw a stranger, the Okie’s roomie, then my father near the window, and my sister Leslie near my roomie’s mirror. SURPRISE party! Shocked was more like it.

Marcia, Mom, and of course, the Okie and the roomie were there. My family brought Kentucky Fried Chicken, cake, and some beverages. The roomie made a general birthday page in the dorm, and a few people came by. Leslie took her friend Joe to the bus station, then returned. The Okie’s mother and baby sister visited.

I got from my family two rolls of Scotch tape, a bottle of Stridex, 24 8-cents stamps, underpants, a nice blue shirt with a strange VOTE button, and some albums:
Color Blind – the Glitterhouse
Stoned Soul Picnic – the Fifth Dimension
Santana III
There’s A Riot Goin’ On – Sly and the Family Stone
The Okie was worried I wouldn’t like the Leadbelly album she bought me, but I did, especially Bourgeois Blues and Gallows Pole.

The Okie’s father arrived before my family left. Apparently, he was nervous to meet them for some reason, the Okie told me later.

The Okie and I went to see the movie Last Summer, which she found very upsetting, relating to Cathy Burns’ Rhoda. (Burns, who died in 2019, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.)

After the party

Mar 6 Yesterday must have really thrown me because I was so disorganized. Couldn’t find my checkbook or notebooks. Forgot the meal ticket booklet, the fact that one of my classes was canceled, and that my gym stuff was in my laundry

Mar 7 My 19th birthday. Also, the day of the New Hampshire primaries. According to WNPC: Muskie 42%, McGovern 34%, Yorty 8%, Hartke 4%, with votes for supposed non-candidates Mills (5%) and Kennedy (1%). (Official numbers were slightly different.)

Did three loads of laundry. Uthaclena gave me the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album.

Later, I suddenly became very depressed, in part about off and on communication with the Okie.

In general

A lot about snowball fights, doing schoolwork (I really like my Basic Economics II class), Uthaclena reading comic books (e.g. Green Lantern/Green Arrow 89), the Okie’s unreliable car, writing letters, and eating ice cream sandwiches.

Feb 24 – Uthaclena received the Bangladesh album. I gave him Absolutely Live – the Doors. A couple of days later, he bought Pictures at an Exhibition – Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
Feb 26 – Bruce Goldberg had said on WNPC (college radio) that Muhammad Ali was going to meet the kangaroo boxing champion of the world. Apparently, MSG was going to sue Bruce for defamation of character over what was a joke.

1972: A Hole In The Bucket

other implements of destruction

me and Leslie, Feb 1972

My diary notes a fight I had in February 1972 with my girlfriend at the time, the Okie. It involved the song A Hole In The Bucket.

The tune has a bit of history in my family. My father used to sing it, playing both the put-upon Henry and the, er, strident Liza. But by the time we were teenagers, my sister Leslie and I had taken over the song in the Green Family Singers shows. It was our tour de force. I did the cowering bit so well that once, I nearly rolled into a pond at a campground. And Leslie was also very good in her role.

I suspect I had in my mind our version, or maybe Dad’s, or Harry Belafonte and a female singer. Here’s one with Odetta. The Okie’s rendition couldn’t compare. I’m guessing that I was wrong here, overly and unnecessarily critical. One does get a certain version of a song in one’s ear. BTW, here’s a Sesame Street take.

And other things

Besides going to class at SUNY New Paltz and the like, I used to write letters, to Leslie and to several friends I had gone to school with at Binghamton Central High School. I played 8-ball quite often; you’d think I’d get better at it, but not appreciably so.

To no surprise, I listened to a lot of music this month, Led Zeppelin III, Beatles, Donovan, plus whatever was on the college radio station, WNPC.

Feb 4 – read Ms. magazine cover to cover, even the ads
Feb 5 – The Okie tried to teach me to drive her Saab. The manual transmission did me in.
Feb 6 – The Okie, a guy named Steve and I went to see the movie Carnal Knowledge, which I thought was a good film
Feb 7 – the assigned readings to Intro to Black Studies were Before the Mayflower [which I still have], Blues People [ditto; it’s by Amiri Baraka, then Leroy Jones], Soledad Brothers, and an anthology
Feb 8 – I put a check in the bank to put my checking account $4.39 in the black
Feb 13 – Saw the movie Yellow Submarine
Feb 14 – I bought as Valentine’s Day presents two Kris Kristofferson albums, Me and Bobby McGee, and The Silver Tongued Devil and I
The Sunday News (NYC newspaper) editorial thinks this “Women’s Lib” has gone “far enough” and that we need to get back to “normalcy”; no female at Annapolis, e.g.
Feb 17 – Leslie took the bus from Binghamton to visit me; on the 19th, she went on the bus to NYC. [The out-of-focus photo is from that trip.] Later, the Okie’s car got hit, although not seriously. Leslie and the Okie’s roommate slept in my bed, with the Okie and I sleeping on a sleeping bag on the floor. “A lot of laughing and joking for quite a while.”

The snow event

Feb 20 – Digging out several cars after yesterday’s snowstorm. There was a community spirit, but also the more cars we got out of the parking lot, the more additional vehicles could be freed. Where the Okie’s car had gotten stuck the day before on Route 299 was a huge pile of snow. But eventually, we [Uthaclena, the Okie and her roommate, me and my roomie] dig into the pile with our buckets, sticks, and “other implements of destruction.” [Yes, I quoted Arlo.] But we discovered the car wasn’t there after all.

We went to the police station. The older guy there Uthaclena thought was going to keel over, and frankly the Okie and I agreed. He said the car was at Tantello’s Texaco, so the Okie wrote a check for $15.75, but we looked and the car wasn’t there.

It was actually at Uppy’s Gulf. After the woman there told the Okie how to spell Uppy’s, she announced they didn’t accept checks. So we pooled our money to pay the $15 towing fee and the $2 for “parking.” [I have the Uppy’s voided check in my diary.]

Non est scriptor coegi licentia

no car memory

no drivers licenseWhen I posted on Facebook a link to this post about trying to get from Binghamton to Albany, it generated a fair amount of conversation.

One buddy of mine asked: “Not that it’s any of my business, but curiosity is killing me: Why not drive?” I replied, “Because I have no license.” Or according to a translator: “Non est scriptor coegi licentia.”

This is true, as far as it goes. But more accurate, I suppose, is that I’ve NEVER had a driver’s license. Not ever. And while it’s just the way I am, it’d be disingenuous to think it wasn’t peculiar to most Americans. So I suppose it’s time to take a deep dive into that fact.

So I started free-associating and came up with over 1800 words. This means I’ll have to break this up into three chunks.

I don’t “get” cars

My parents both drove. My sisters both drive. It was never that important to me, except for a couple of brief times, which I’ll share with you eventually.

I have no car memory. That is, I didn’t care about cars growing up. I don’t know what model of cars my parents owned except one, I think, was a “woody,” with a faux wood exterior.

And I didn’t keep track of what kind of models each car maker made. I mean Chevrolet had the Chevette and some other “ch” lines. Ford had the Fairlane and the Mustang. But that’s about it. To this day, when I see a car model category on JEOPARDY, I respond exceedingly poorly.

Moreover, I never daydreamed about driving a car. I got around pretty well on foot, going to school and church, even walking three miles each way on Sunday afternoons to go to a second church. I had my bicycle, and occasionally, rode the bus.

In fact, my recurring nightmare was being in the back seat of a car, and the vehicle crashes through the side of the bridge, sinking rapidly into the river. (It was probably the Court Street Bridge into the Chenango River in Binghamton.)

The ex-husband of a friend of mine would ask me, “How do you not drive?” And since I never did, I had no good answer.

Ridin’ thumb

Even before I went to college, I started hitchhiking, from Binghamton to New Paltz, where my girlfriend at the time was attending. I took that stretch of road several times.

Speaking of which, the most serious car accident I was ever in happened when I was getting out of a car after a ride. A woman who had some physical limitation was unable to apply the brakes and plowed into that car while I was halfway out. I swore I’d never be like the driver in a situation like that.

I spent two days in the hospital, a week resting at home, then, when my right shoulder gave out, four weeks of physical therapy.

At some point, I got what was the first of seven driver’s permits, the document one needs to try to learn to drive. I think my first lesson was in the Okie’s Volvo? Saab? In any case, it had a manual transmission, and she screamed at me because I was going to burn out her clutch. And that was the end of that.

Later, she had a red car with push-button automatic transmission. Once I tried to drive it around the parking lot of the Colonial Arms apartments in New Paltz. It was uneventful until I accidentally went in reverse, knocking over a Dumpster! Surprisingly, the car appeared OK.

During this period, my good friend Uthaclena once tried to teach me to drive. I must have been quite terrible since he STILL shudders when he talks about it. I thought I was doing fine.

More soonish.

 

Questions about God, and coincidence

Does God DO that?

My new friend Carla, who I’ve only known for a half-century starts off this round of  Ask Roger Anything:

God
The star in the center, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, is known as V1331 Cyg and is located in the dark cloud LDN 981.

If you had the chance to ask three different people (living or dead, famous or not) ONE question… who and what would you ask?

The one requirement for this exercise, I suppose, is that they would have to answer honestly. What would I ask? What is your sense of how God manifests God’s self if, in fact, God does that? Or maybe Does knowing God just take practice?

I’d ask Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. I’m thinking of his disappointing experiences in his previous couple of years might have changed his world view of God’s plan.

I’d ask Thomas Jefferson c. 1820, long after he had left the presidency. As this article explains, his “relationship with Christianity was complicated.” So where was it near the end of his life?

I’d ask Donald Trump in 2020. But I’d wonder if he’d understand what I was trying to get at. Maybe I’d need some clarifying questions. Does he think God favors the rich? Does he believe that God supported him in herding demonstrators so he could hold up a Bible in front of a church? And if so, what was God saying to him?

Does he believe God wanted him to be reelected? Does he actually read the Bible? And if so, what parts resonate with him?

He was asked this last question around 2017, and he gave the non-answer “Oh, all of it.” Anyone who has ACTUALLY read the Bible will admit that there are some parts of Scripture with which they are uncomfortable.

What a coincidence

Uthaclena, being their usual mystical self, asks:

Isn’t “coincidence” an ALTERNATIVE Fact??

So, what do we know here? “A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances that have no apparent causal connection with one another.” So a coincidence is a fact.

“The perception of remarkable coincidences may lead to supernatural, occult, or paranormal claims.” So the perceptions of coincidences may be alternative facts.

Blows against the empire

Will I see Summer before summer?

Aside from the day-to-day activities, there have been a few events I have missed. The Blows Against the Empire tour was canceled before it got to Clifton Park, near Albany. It wasn’t that I was desperate to see that show. But I was going to go with my oldest friend from my college days. And he was going to pay!

I was planning a trip to my hometown of Binghamton, NY in March 2020 for two reasons. I’m looking for the transcript of the October 1926 trial involving my biological grandfather Raymond Cone, at which my grandmother, then Agatha Walker, testified against him. I also wanted to track her location in the city directories during the 1930s. However, both City Hall and the local library are closed until they aren’t.

Also, my friend since kindergarten Carol, not to be confused with my wife Carol, was going to fly up from Texas to visit her mom. So I’d have a chance for a visit with her and perhaps my Binghamton-area friends. Not yet.

Postponed, so far

At the Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, I have a subscription. The musical Summer, about the disco queen Donna, has moved from March to June. Will that actually come to pass? Or Dear Evan Hansen, still scheduled for June? Or Come From Away in September? What does theater look like in the era of physical distancing? Does the economic model even work?

Then there are the ersatz gatherings. The weekly church services, which get better as the folks have figured out the technology. The Bible studies. The Google Hangouts, Zoom meetings, and whatnot.

Something that I have discovered about sharing screens on these platforms. Sometimes they can be quite useful. On one Zoom call, a guy with the same surname as some of my ancestors wanted to see my family tree. I’m going to be helping my friend with some librarian skills, and her seeing what I’m working on will be great. On the other hand, one ought not to feel obliged to share JUST because one can, technologically.

We’re muddling through.

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