Time Time Time Is On Whose Side?

The years come and go and it is more than a platitude to say that the older you get the faster they go. What can I say? I am 60 and though my birthday was almost 10 months ago, that number is still nothing more than an incomprehensible joke. Ha Ha, I'm 60.....ha, ha fooled you...I'm really 25, err, I mean 35, no, wait, 45.... OK, I'll stop. But the damn un-explainable, unbelievable truth is, I am a 60 year old woman and I guess I won't get my head around that number until I turn 70 and think back to the good old days when I was 60!. Did I mention how very fast the time has gone?

There are a multitude of songs about time, suggesting that time as a concept and a reality is on the minds of many. That fact, at least, is comforting.

     ♫ Time, Time, Time is On My Side...Yes, It Is ♫
     ♫ Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? ♫
     ♫ Time After Time ♫
     ♫ Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) ♫
     ♫ Summer Time and The Living's Easy ♫
     ♫ The Fist Time Ever I Saw Your Face ♫
     ♫ As Time Goes By ♫
     ♫ The Times They Are A'changin' ♫
     ♫ I Had the Time of My Life ♫
     ♫ A Time to be Born, A Time to die, A Time to Plant, A Time to Reap, A Time to Kill,
        A Time to Heal , A Time to Laugh, A Time to Weep.. Turn! Turn! Turn! ♫ 

Time has a way of hurting then healing as time goes by, which brings to mind the many expressions there are using the word Time.
 Time as an idiom. .
     ~ Time is of the essence.~
     ~ No Time like the present ~
     ~ Time flies ~
     ~ Racing against Time ~
     ~ Time is money ~
     ~ Time heals all wounds ~
     ~ Only Time will tell ~
     ~ Time out ~
     ~ Killing Time ~
     ~ Too much Time on my hands ~
     ~ In the nick of Time
     ~ Out of Time ~
     ~ Hard Times ~
     ~ Race against Time ~
     ~ A stitch in Time saves nine ~
     ~ Time Is Up! ~

So, what got me thinking about time? You could say the theater did, because the theater, as well as writing and facebook, have taken up a lot of mental space of late. In 1968, undoubtedly,  a seminal year of my life, my mother took me to the theater to see a play called, Jimmy Shine in which Dustin Hoffman plays the main character, Jimmy Shine. This particular play from this particular year came up in conversation with my friend, Jeanne T., as we sat in the theater waiting for the play, Other Desert Cities, to begin. To our utter amazement, we found that we both had gone to see this rather obscure play, Jimmy Shine. We were  astonished by the coincidence. So I told Jeanne about the silly thing I did in 1968, which was to cut the head of Dustin Hoffman out of the Playbill in order to post it on my wall. In my immature infatuation, e-Bay was not on my teenage radar. Many years later, when organizing my playbills in folders, I could not find a picture of the original 1968 playbill, so I did the next best thing and found what I thought was a fair facsimile and plugged it in accordingly. Lucky for me, Jeanne saves and organizes Playbills like I do, and she promised to send me a copy of the original, which she did, which explains the pictures of the Playbills below.

 Dustin Hoffman on a Time Line:

                                                                  1967 The Graduate

1968 copy of head from original playbill     Replacement of head until Jeanne sent the original.                                      

 2011 HBO's Lucky

Despite the fact that, Hoffman netted his second Drama Award for his performance in the Broadway production of "Jimmy Shine", it was by all other accounts an unremarkable flop.The first time I googled it, this is the link I came up with, Urban Picaresque. Basically it said that 'Murray Schisgal's Jimmy Shine attempts an inner journey. The trouble is that it doesn't go anywhere." I think that sums it up pretty well.  

Turns out that yet another friend of mine  on facebook also actually saw this play (this fact, which I learned only recently, totally blows my mind. I  mean as far as I could tell, despite the drama award Hoffman received,  it was an obscure blip on Hoffman's resume).  Both friends agreed that they could remember little about it other than that Dustin Hoffman was in it and it wasn't very good. One friend  recalled how difficult it was for Hoffman to connect with the audience, even to look out at them. Go figure. 

Jimmy Shine was in December, the end of 1968. So much happened earlier in the year which effected, not only  me, but the rest of the world as well. In 1968 the War in Viet Nam was in full force. Too many of the events of the year were associated with that war. Dr. Benjamin Spock, whose book, Baby And Childcare, published in 1946, to later become the second best selling book after the Bible, became known as much for his politics as his baby rearing books. In January of 1968 Benjamin Spock was indicted and later convicted of conspiracy to encourage violations of the draft law. The charges were the result of actions taken at a protest rally the previous October at the Lincoln Memorial. Though I didn't know it at the time, in the next few years, I would be joining Spock in his anti-war sentiments.

On February 2, 1968, Richard Nixon, a republican from California, entered the New Hampshire primary and declared his presidential candidacy. On election day in November, 1968, I had just turned 16, 5 years shy of the voting age, which was 21. It wasn't until 3 years later, in March of 1971 that Congress passed the 26th Amendment lowering the legal voting age from 21 to 18. Thus, in the year 1968, the American soldiers were fighting and dying in Viet Nam, but they were not allowed to vote for the politicians who would be sending them there, bringing to mind the song "Eve of Destruction" (written by P.F. Sloan in 1966 and most notably sung by Barry McGuire)...

♫ You're old enough to kill but not for votin', You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin' ♫

Though in 1968, my political awareness was just developing, I can still remember the political charge in the air, within our country, at the time. The big surprise was that the sitting President, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, had decided not to run for a second term. Johnson had accomplished some of the best Civil Rights legislation of the past century,and he had the will to fight the war on poverty at home. But the war overseas, in Viet Nam, was the albatross he was forced to wear around his neck. He inherited the war and he ultimately escalated it and this was his downfall. On March, 31,1968, President Lyndon Johnson gave a speech to the nation that I can still remember watching on the TV in  my parent's room and I can pretty much remember the words that he said..."I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President." Even at 16 I found these words shocking and his demeanor made me feel sorry for him. 

With President Johnson out of the race, it opened it up to a virtual Who's Who in the Democratic Political Party. The Democratic Primary Race was headed by Johnson's Vice President, Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, who eventually won the nomination. Running against Humphrey was Eugene McCarthy, of Minnesota, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota and finally, my candidate of choice, Robert F. Kennedy (at least in retrospect, I really don't remember who I supported then, but I do remember that my brother, at 12 years of age, supported McCarthy). 

Even before 1968, the country was facing civil disturbance. In 1965 riots broke out for days on end in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. 1n 1967 there were riots in Newark and Detroit. On March 31, 1968, Martin Luther King spoke to a mostly White group of people, crowded into the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. He warned them that "if nothing is done between now and June to raise ghetto hope, that he felt that the coming summer will be even worse than the previous one".  He said that people can take just so much of poor living conditions, unemployment and discrimination. He knew the African-American population was set to explode. It was just 4 days later that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated 

I was 15 in 1968 (turned 16 in October) and as I have said, though aware of the bigotry and poverty, I was still a teenager and only beginning to understand the significance of the problems. Still, I knew even then, that we had lost a great leader who represented a peaceful and non-violent approach to gaining Civil Rights for African-Americans in our country and that trouble was ahead. It felt terribly sad for me. It felt enormously sad for African-Americans and their sadness became anger and by 10 PM the night of King's assassination, the crowds on the streets of Washington, DC turned violent. And thus the rioting in D.C and Chicago and Baltimore began and raged on. 

On that same night of April 4, 1968, whens King was assassinated, Robert F. Kennedy was scheduled to give a campaign speech in the heart of Indianapolis' African-American neighborhood. Despite the potential violence, Kennedy decided to go ahead with it. However, instead of a campaign speech, Kennedy spoke quietly to the crowd, first informing them of King's death and then going on to speak with passion and honesty of what Martin Luther King stood for, peace and non-violent change and he urged them to honor King by following his lead. The audience, though struck with great shock, sorrow and ultimately anger, remained peaceful listening to Kennedy's words. Kennedy's speech given that night is considered to be one of the great public addresses of the modern era. 

I urge you to watch this video.  

                Landmark for Peace Memorial in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Indianapolis, Indiana
                         Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King reach out towards each other and the sky. 


Two months later, in early June, 1968, Robert Kennedy was at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to address a crowd of supporters on the night of the California Primary and he too was assassinated. He was shot by a 24 year old man named Sirhan Sirhan. I heard the news that Friday morning and I remember waking my brother to tell him about it. I remember being tied to the TV, much as we had been a short 5 years before when Bobby's brother, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. I felt Bobby's death like it was a personal loss. Before the funeral, Robert Kennedy's coffin was laid out at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. What I remember most, was that a high school friend, Karen Taylor and I took the bus into the city, stood on a line for hours, that circled St. Patrick's many times over  and paid our respects as we paraded past Kennedy's coffin. That in itself, was a seminal moment of my life.

There are still 5 more months before we reach December, 1968, where this blog started. Most of what made the year such a seminal one for me personally, I have already written, though there was a whole hell of a lot more that took place that year. I have obviously done some homework to write this piece, so I will include a few more of the events and people, that I have come across, that made 1968 the critical and  meaningful year it was. 

On July 7, 1968, Abbie Hoffman's "The Yippies are Going to Chicago" was published in The Realist. The yippie movement, formed by Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Paul Krassner, all committed activists and demonstrators, is characterized by public displays of disorder ranging from disrupting the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange to the destruction of the Clocks at Grand Central Terminal, the main commuter station for workers in New York City. The Yippie's  were in the center of action six weeks later at the Chicago Democratic National Convention, hosting a "Festival of Life" in contrast to what they term the convention's "Festival of Death."

On July 24, 1968 at the Newport (Rhode Island) Folk Festival singer Arlo Guthrie performed his 20 minute ballad "Alice's Restaurant" to rave reviews. I've been listening to it up until this day during Thanksgiving weekends. 
August 8, 1968 another Who's Who, this time of the Republican Party,  attending their Convention in Miami Beach, where they nominated Richard Milhouse Nixon to be their presidential candidate. The next day Nixon appointed Spiro Agnew of Maryland as his running mate. Nixon had been challenged in his campaign by Nelson Rockefeller of New York, and Ronald Reagan of California. Oh, the things to come.

On August 28, 1968, 2 days after the opening of the  Democratic National Convention in Chicago, by most accounts, Chicago police took action against crowds of demonstrators without provocation. The police beat some marchers unconscious and sent at least 100 to emergency rooms while arresting 175. Mayor Daley tried the next day to explain the police action at a press conference. He famously explained: "The policeman isn't there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder." Twenty-eight years later, when the Democrats next held a convention in Chicago, some police officers still on the force wore t-shirts proclaiming, "We kicked their father's butt in '68 and now it's your turn." Lord help us, Dems and Republicans alike!
On October 11, 1968 Apollo 7 was launched from Florida for an eleven day journey orbiting the Earth 163 times. The following year, another fairly seminal one in my life, 1969, (aka my screen name: smogey69), on July 20, I was in San Antonio, Texas, at the home of  my then best friend, Ilene Kavy, watching Neil Armstrong become the first person to walk upon the moon. Unfortunately, from August 15-18, 1969, I was  visiting my uncle in San Diego,  thus missing a generation's seminal event, Woodstock!  

I feel compelled to include just a few of the many songs that came out in the year 1968 because it was the time that some of the best music of all time was in our ears.

♫ Hey Jude
♫ Sitting of the Dock of the Bay
♫ People Got to Be Free
♫ Mrs. Robinson
♫ Born to Be Wild
♫ Light My Fire
♫ A Beautiful Morning
♫ Revolution
♫ Lady Madonna
♫ Scarborough Fair/Canticle
♫ I Heard It Through the Grappevine

And so we near the end of 1968 and this edition to my blog comes to a close. For me, writing it, was like a roller-coaster ride through what I remember as a year, along with the next one, 1969, that came to represent much of what formed me for the next 44 to come. Where have all those times of my life gone? Why does time have to fly so fast as we move on. And when all is said and done, remind me again ...Time, Time, Time Is On Whose Side?


Rob F. said...

RFK spoke at Pete F's graduation in May or June 1968

sherril said...

Wow, that is unbelievable, Rob. How do you know that? Here's to another cliche, what goes around, comes around.

Rob F. said...

Pete always talked about it.

Rob F. said...

And I knew Pete when he went to Fordham.

Sherril said...

It seems that you knew Pete pretty well, yes? I'd seen him at a concert and spoke briefly to him when he signed the bookends book, but that's it.

Rob F. said...

I used to listen to Campus Caravan. I wrote him a letter, which he read on the air. He asked me to visit him at the station. That was in '67. I lost contact after moving to CA in '76.

Sherril said...

You go back farther than me. I started listening to Pete via WNEW FM when he started doing his themed Mix Bag program. I listened last Sat. night and again started feeling very sad.