Times" by Stan Gotleib
It was 1966 (or was it ’65?); a
warm sunny day the likes of which one appreciates all the more for
being infrequent in San Francisco. Ellen and I were hustling down
Powell Street to go buy something or other we couldn’t live without
that was on sale at that Market Street monument to spending, The
Emporium. When we got to Market, there was a thin crowd gathered
along the curb, and some sort of march going by. We stopped to
Lots of young folks, a few oldsters;
people on roller skates (this was before blades) and in wheelchairs;
lots of folks who looked about as stoned as we were; and then, a
“What’s up?” we yelled.
“Goin’ for a walk”, she replied.
“Come on along.”
Ellen and I looked at each other
and shrugged. We didn’t need whatever-it-was as badly as we had
thought, evidently, because the next thing we knew we were marching.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
Kezar Pavilion (a major stadium in
Golden Gate Park).
To have a big rally.
“Really? Well, we will walk with
you, but we’ll have to see about the rally business”.
By the time we got to Kezar, we
were pooped, so it seemed to make sense to go in and sit awhile.
When we got inside, the stadium was about a third full. We sat,
amazed, as time went by and the stadium filled up. All those people.
It began to occur to us that maybe this anti-war movement was a
whole lot bigger than we had thought.
On stage, there were lots of
instruments and speakers and microphones. As the last of the
marchers straggled in, the show kicked off. Speakers, some of which
we had never heard, nor of their organizations; and some who were
famous. Lots of hot local bands, most of which we knew. And a
constantly recurring refrain: bring the troops home now.
I should explain at this point that
it wasn’t that we were unaware of the war, or that we were not
adamantly opposed to its continuance, or that we did not argue with
our co-workers and others who evinced support for the war; it was
rather that we were too busy working, getting stoned, and having fun,
to tune in on the organizing that was going on. We were Yuppies
before there were Yuppies, except that we preferred to spend our
extra money on sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, rather than invest it.
We found out later that we had been
in San Francisco’s first major anti-war march and mass demonstration.
I can’t say it significantly changed our lives, but we did buy a
couple of anti-war bumper-stickers for our car.
We marched many more times after
that. Eventually, the war did end, but not until many years had
As I write this in 2007, with U.S.
troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drums of war beating for Iran,
I pray that the people, having had enough, might decide to rise up
once again, and force our “leaders” to do the right thing.
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