Remembering November 3rd

Very strangely, it was only after I got back in touch with an old boyfriend and friend from my pre-Jurassic college days that I learned, from one of his chance comments, that the “possibly correct” account my brother once told me of my cousin’s ex-husband’s death was true.

I was very moved by this, both because I do care for all these persons, and because in a strange way the tale parallels part of the plot of my recent The Rescuer’s Path novel–the part about the murder of a radical activist.

You may have guessed by now–the real event, the killing, to which I refer tonight is what is now known as the Greensboro Massacre, and my cousin had been, at the time, for some years divorced from the by-then remarried doctor who was one of two doctor-organizers shot to death, that November 3, 1971, while organizing textile workers, in Greensboro, North Carolina, by the Ku Klux Klan.

Why do I recount this now? Because this is our heritage. Yours too, if you will take it.

We have loved, lived, struggled, felt empathy for one another; many have died. La lutte continue, as we say, just as does much else in life. Remember.

Finding oneself in the late-1960s antiwar movement

With the Occupies and the growing third-party movements as elections near, this year, we are reminded of the days of hope, the time we call “the Sixties.” For many of us, this time was primarily, or crescendoed in, 1965 to 1969 or so. My essay “God’s Eyes,” originally published in 1994 in Viet Nam Generation under the title “You asked ‘What was happening then?'” received a Pushcart Prize nomination and, in 1996, honorable mention for the first New Millenium Writings nonfiction award. “God’s Eyes” is written as if speaking to my first child, given up for adoption and who had, as an adult in the early 1990s found me. “God’s Eyes” tells of discovering, through love, pregnancy, and a nonviolent demonstration in the antiwar movement, my self–my depths, and that I loved, and that we can each love and struggle for a more loving society.

“God’sEyes” tells us that we found, in those days of hope, ways to recognize the love in everyone, in self and others, and to reach through to this love to create a better society. We still can, really.

Find it here– http://www.highlightscommunications.com/gods_eyes_sample.htm

Remembering the Cuban Crisis

  • I was fresh out of college, new to Berkeley. The woman in the next apartment had her radio on that evening and invited me in to hear Kennedy’s speech; people commented how well-phrased it was. The rain, that night and the next day, was that gray-silver cloud that descends when we don’t know if life is soon over. I remember walking up Telegraph that afternoon and buying a lighter and raincoat in the dimestore, after phoning friends to find someone with a car and others who were ready so we could flee. On the campus, some of us met and were having coffee when a siren went off.

    A minute later, we heard the siren moving and realized it was only a fire truck, and breathed again. Later, there was a corner rally and Bill Mandel said “Look, I’m middle-aged, for me maybe it’s all right, but you people are still young! You need your lives,” and Marvin Garson invited everyone to that evening’s End of the World party.

    In the Bassens’ apartment, three of us discussed fleeing and timing; Stephanie phoned the Chronicle. Stephanie: “What time will the Polish ships reach the (US ships’) blockade?” Reporter: “Lady, if I knew that, I’d be in the State Department.”

    In the morning, on little sleep, four of us–Eli and his girlfriend, and Gene, and I–drove up 101 in Gene’s car, which had uncertain brakes. Near Willetts, we camped, buying “good steaks for a barbeque” in a small-town grocery; “They probably think we’re the only people not worried,” Gene or Eli said.

    By the next afternoon, we were heading back, and stopped in Mendocino–my first trip there. I and one of the guys were feeling very embarrassed or ashamed to have run in fear from a fate that all of us around, all of us in the world, might now confront.

    We climbed on the bluffs above the ocean, nearly slipping a couple of times onto the rocks and ocean below. We stopped in a bookstore and I bought a copy of the journal Daedalus, and then we sat on the grass above the town for awhile. I was reading the Daedalus, and there was an article by Bettelheim about surviving the concentration camps, and in it he said, “In this situation” (where one’s life, and everyone around’s, was being threatened, by people who’d no concern for human life), “even to survive was, itself, to fight back.”
    In the evening, we returned to Berkeley. While we were away, the ships had met and the Polish ships pulled back. But the crisis continued until the agreement, that Saturday, and (it has since been learned) for some weeks thereafter. And, as my friend Harvey said, sometime that December, the biggest danger was in the week before the announcement, when the administration had been determining whether to try a blockade or an attack.
    Copyright  2012 by Paula Friedman. All rights reserved, including all print and electronic media.