Thursday, August 17, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXXIII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

July, 1968.
Demonstrations against the Vietnam War were becoming even more common after the Tet Offensive with prominent people beginning to doubt publicly why we were even in the war and wondering whether the American public was being told the truth.  Even Walter Cronkite, the most trusted television news personality, after a trip to Vietnam indicated that what he experienced there contradicted the official government reports!  And American casualties had increased!

It was becoming impossible to not discuss political events during coffee breaks.

I was working nonstop and was being kept abreast of events by listening to Pacifica Network (listener supported) WBAI-fm which, as it turned out was reporting the most accurately about what was really going on in Washington and Vietnam. Occasionally I had to come up for air and meet someone for coffee!  One of the better things about living in New York was that people, as a whole, seemed better informed and so there were few Support the War demonstrations!
In a New Hampshire primary election, Eugene McCarthy had come close to defeating President Johnson.

Things were heating up. Even Dr. Martin Luther King had begun to include anti-war sentiments in his speeches and in April, he is shot and killed!

President Johnson announces in a State of the Union speech that he will not seek reelection.

And then it was announced that finally Robert Kennedy had decided to enter the race for the presidency!  A mood of jubilant optimism is immediately noticeable but in June, a day after Andy Warhol is almost fatally shot by Valerie Solanis, Robert Kennedy himself is shot after winning the California primary. He dies the following morning.
Early in July, activists Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Paul Krassner form the Yippie Movement and begin an active program of disturbances and demonstrations, the planning and organizing being broadcast on WBAI's late night program, Radio Unnameable hosted by Bob Fass!  Even though I was trapped at my drawing table, I felt I was in the thick of it!

Finally the Yippies announced they were going to the Democratic Political Convention in Chicago.  They termed that convention a "Convention of Death" and their plan was to stage a "Convention of Life"!

In the middle of all of this chaos I was invited to a party out on Long Island by my friends Renee and Mike Silverstein and I was looking forward to some relief from all the action.

I invited Amy Vane to come and we set out on the train to Port Washington.
The party was at the Sands Point Bath and Tennis Club.
Renee was my first friend.  Her mother Lillian Pritzker and my mother were best friends and when I met Renee we were in our baby carriages!  I was even a groomsman in her wedding to Mike in the ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel.
It was a beautiful afternoon on Long Island and later we were invited for a short cruise on Alberto Robaina's boat where we took a break watching Dracula's Daughter!
 Alberto Robaina on his boat, The After Hours.
The weekend was everything I'd hoped for and after that respite we returned to the city and I went back to work!
With a few breaks for dinner!
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