Love the One You're With
As a more or less Family-Friendly Site the Trailer Park Cyclist always tries to keep it clean.
That's why you will almost never find me delving into the two most dirtiest subjects known to Blogger Man: Politics and Religion. Why bother? Nobody listens and nobody agrees. So relax, I ain't gonna start now.
The Sweet Bird-Brain of Youth
Back in 1968 I was an energetic and earnest little crew-cutted peckerhead
Me at Thirteen
spending my summer vacation going door to door and handing out leaflets or pamphlets or something or other as a member of...wait for it...the Young Republicans. That's right, it's my fault. Without my effort, Richard Nixon would never have been President. But don't blame me, blame my parents.
Mom & Dad
They were Republicans so I was a Republican too. Hell, I didn't even know what it meant. You were either a Donkey or an Elephant and by weird (yet appropriate) coincidence the Clyde Beattie and Cole Circus had come to town that summer, also.
Nixon On the Campaign Trail
So I was an Elephant and my Parents were Elephants and as the son of the Head Elk (This is getting confusing) I was privileged to bring one friend and help set up the Big-Top, using elephants, of course, and get my picture on the front page . So I did.
Later I did that door to door thing and I can't remember if I thought the Circus and the Election were somehow tied together but I do remember that same summer there was an uproar in Chicago at the Donkey Convention. And guess, what? I was there, too.
What Are All Those Donkey's Up To?
I know, I know, I'm starting to sound a little (a lot) like a certain famous box o'chocolates totin' shrimp catchin' lawn cuttin' movie character but why not?
For whatever reason, at the whim of whatever strange wheels and levers move the Universe and the Comstock Family, we were there.
Ostensibly for a simple family road-trip, Babar Goes to Chicago kind of thing.
But who knows? My Dad later had a rather obscure job doing rather obscure electrical engineering things in countries around the globe that seemed to have a hard time keeping their Donkeys and Elephants from killing each other.
Dad Worked Hard
Now, I wish I could give you a blow-by-blow report of those blazing days from our country's relatively recent history, but no...all I remember of Chicago 1968 is the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum of Natural History, Chinatown, and something that happened on the elevator at our hotel.
Please Come to Chicago
Up until then, hippies were comical characters that sometimes made the Evening News just after the Body Count Report and just before Mom brought out desert. It was fun to eat apple pie and listen to Uncle Walter tell about the latest escapades of those Long-Haired Freaky People out there wherever they were. But they didn't seem real or at least not real like the Monkees and really, nothing like that would happen around here.
But up there in Chicago we got on the elevator at our hotel. Mom had bought matching plaid shirts and bermuda shorts for the three brothers and color coordinated outfits for her and Dad and we were a proud and American Vision there on the Family Vacation that for whatever reason found itself about six blocks away from a defining moment in American History. We were proud and complacent and giggling at one of Mom's silly little kinda-sorta off-color jokes and then a Hippie got on the Elevator with us.
Not just any hippie, either. This was a for-real hippie, barefoot and smelly and honest-to-god wearing a real Robin Hood hat with a really long feather. He had on beads and granny glasses and I remember how hairy his feet were. He had really long greasy hair and if a Donkey or an Elephant had got on the elevator with us and taken a big dump and then got back off the effect would have been no less momentous.
OK, I know all of you are wondering about this: the way I knew it was a real Robin Hood hat was because just one summer before I had sent off two weeks worth of lawn mowing savings and some forgotten number of box-tops from some happily forgotten cereal boxes (probably Raisin Bran) and then waited yearningly for the postman to bring my official authentic Robin Hood hat. And standing there on that elevator it only took one glance for me to realize I had been gypped and it was obvious as hell that this guy bought his hat at the same place the real Robin Hood bought his.
It got real quiet on that elevator, the way only elevators can get quiet. Me, being a half-witty guy and all, nowadays can crack up the whole room, as small as it is, in only two or three floors. But not that day in Some Hotel in Chicago in 1968. What happened was, this guy, probably twenty or so, got on an elevator Downtown with what must have looked to him like a group of extras on their way to film an episode of the Osmond Family goes to Hooterville. We all stood there as awkwardly as only wild animals and domestic animals can be when they are trapped in the same cage, praying for the elevator to hurry up. Which it did. It hurried up and on the next floor (not ours) it stopped and the doors opened and about six hundred Shriners were standing there. Six hundred fez-wearing Shriners, as boozy and grab-assy and giddily glad as only Shriners in Hotels can be. Three got on, because Shriners run big (at least in those days) and that sealed the deal.
This had become a crowded elevator, to say the least. Directly in front of my Dad was the Hippie. Mom and me and my little inconsequential brothers were more or less jammed into a corner and those three Elephants were lined up across the back. And that long feather in that Hippie's Robin Hood hat was tickling my Dad's nose. Emboldened by his Rotarian Backup, he made what he meant to be a humorous remark:
“Anybody got a scissors?”
HE MEANT THE FEATHER! HE MEANT THE FEATHER!
That Time I Had the Measles
My Dad was a great guy and worked about sixty hours a week and still found time to work with the Elks on their charities and take us kids for outings and keep him and my Mom in their matching Lincolns and us boys in Shiny New Bicycles (Schwinn, Walmart hadn't been invented yet) and for a high school drop out, he did pretty good in the sixty-two years God gave him. He would have given that hippie the shirt off his back and told the guy that the reason he laid in that freezing mud in Korea that winter was so that he (the hippie) could look however he wanted and vote for whoever he wanted and hell, go live in the forest like Robin Hood and shoot Elk if that's what turns ya on, Ha Ha...
Long Hair and Funny Hat
But that ain't how it works outside of Sherwood Forest. In those days Get a Haircut was the Mantra of the Ruling Class and god knows why that long-haired freaky person was in that hotel and in that elevator and where were his shoes? But all he knew was he was about to be attacked by obnoxious hicks and big men in funny hats and that their feral hillbilly children would fight like ravenous wolverines for scraps of his flesh and to tell the truth, I did have my eye on that hat.
It just occurred to me: What if the guy was on acid? Holy crap...
All's Well That End's Well Most of the Time, But...
Anyway, the hippie hit a button and got off the elevator and that was that. But what if that hippie was Charles Manson on his way to join the Elks and get a haircut and turn his life around except that Elevator Thing sent him over the edge and so in the very same summer I was indirectly involved in the election of Richard Nixon and the way Charlie turned out. It's quite a burden.