Monday, December 3, 2012

Love The One You're With

Love the One You're With
As a more or less Family-Friendly Site  the Trailer Park Cyclist always tries to keep it clean.
 The Family

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


The Circus was sponsored by the local chapter of the Elks Club and guess who's Father  happened to be Chapter President that year...
Elk Head
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.

Wow.

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.




10 comments:

  1. Holy crap, I never guessed you were older than me, you poor bastard (that is Aussie for lovely best friend). Well I figure all of us children of the 60s-70s are innocent of firing the crucible of change that we lived through. We had no idea, we are just the squashed butterflies of fate really. As for hippies, well I figure my folks and I turned out to be hippies in that we grow our own and are defined more by the frugality of the depression than the excess of modern consumerism. A peaceful coming together of ideology across generations. The world may be fu**ed up, but it wasn't us!

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    1. Dee, my dear, I am older than everybody. I am on day three of a five day drunk and I hope your comment means that you enjoyed this kooky post that has been sitting in the archives for over a year. I am not only elderly, but also manic depressive and on a manic swing, which is the fun part.

      I have always been more of a Beat Gen than hippie, but hippie i am nonetheless. I think today that means I am a liberal. But in all actuality, I am a beat up old guy drinking tequila at six a.m. up all night typing, typing...

      tj

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  2. Love this post. I could smell the hippie and the polyester in your family's matching outfits from a few states over. I'd tell you my favorite line from this story, but there are too many.

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    1. Well, Crystal, the Osmond Family goes to Hooterville was mine. I thought this post would cause me trouble but it turns out my favorite people like it. I never know what the hell is gonna happen.

      tj

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  3. TJ,

    That matching outfit stuff was torture. Thank God that particular trend has run its course.

    Be of good cheer. Better days ahead. And you really should think about riding your bike there if you're heading to L.A. Maybe experiment with cross country intramodal transportation. Like, for example, take a Greyhound across Texas...

    Maybe a change of scenery would do you good. Get away from the everyday for a bit. Perhaps a short beach tour via 2-wheel steed?

    Wishing for peace for the restless minds everywhere. Enjoy every sandwich.

    Steve Z

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    1. Warren Zevon had good advice, Steve, but I am in a shit sandwich situation right now. I very much want to intermodal my ass to the other coast, or anywhere...

      soon...

      tj (oh, I saw your new post and I am waiting until I get out of my sour mood to comment. I definitely need a kayak. I only live two blocks from the water.

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  4. I agree that politics and religion are best left out of conversation unless you just want to start an argument. However, if you have any more reminiscing to do with politics (or religion) as a peripheral part of the story, you should share them. This was incredibly entertaining to someone who only knows of the sanitized history book version of this era. Great post!

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  5. Tom, you are asking the devil to unlock pandora's box. Not only do i have a ton of stories from those days, i am still pissed about most of them. But it is curious, to say the least, that I might serve as an historian of the greatest epoch of the human race. I'm serious when i say that. The flower children tempered the rampant military-industrial machine and the right wing responded with the American Hitler, Ronald Reagan. Without flower-power trust me, we would still have a draft board to report to and some war somewhere to be fought.

    And yet we do. Mr. Obama is sorting out the foul mess these war-mongering old white men have foisted on the american populace and the innocent women and children of countries that still rely on prayer and donkeys to get around.

    This kid who I think is named John Mayer wrote a song called "waiting For The World To Change." Good luck with that. My crew threw rocks and talked back and I served in the military and fought a passive war from within, as a member of a group of airmen in protest. There were members all the way to the top that also believed that war was stupid. Send us and we will fight, but send us not.

    While our country heals from eight years of leadership that should have been run out of town at the point of a pitchfork, I wish that the generation behind yours would put down the fucking gameboys and look around. The planet earth is a beautiful place filled with adventure and wonder. It can and will be taken away from us if the young ones, the next crew, is not on watch and taking care of business. Always talk back and ask why and if the answers don't add up, start throwing rocks.

    tj

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  6. I did enjoy the post, very much. The hippies were 'the others' but they were right all along really. As you know I work at a University and it just amazes me how it has all gone quiet since the 70s. I have never seen a big protest at a Uni, never, not when I was a student and never in my many years as an employee. I don't know what that means, but it is bigger than the young ones who are here now.

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  7. TJ, I enjoyed the hell out of this post. December is a reflective month for me. Maybe I should write about it. You have made me think!
    I was of that generation after you. The 70's, that transition time between the upheaval of the 60's and the 80's which was Reagan's idea of utopia America! I was one of those last group of High School kids that got a draft card. I was 1A with a lottery number of 14. My Dad surprised the hell out of me with him telling me that I was going to college and I would stay there until they stop the shit going on in SE Asia. His words: "I'll pay for college forever instead of pay for a funeral for you". That started a long good relationship I shared with my Dad. I just knew from that point on he had my back.
    Maybe I have some stories to write down in my blog.
    You can write down inspirationalist on your resume.
    Jim

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