Thursday, January 18, 2018

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXLIII

Lexington Avenue coffee shop, November 27, 1968.
Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

November, 1968: Richard Nixon was now the President of the United States!

A staunch Democrat, my mother said, “I never liked him, I don’t trust him and I didn’t vote for him but he was elected President so I’ll have to respect him!”  That was the opinion of a lot of voters but even as that was the claim, draftable young men of voting age were organizing demonstrations during which they either turned in or burned their government issued draft cards.
About the only times I went to midtown during the day was to talk about illustration jobs with art directors. It gave me the chance to visit some of my preferred drawing locations: coffee shops!

My friend Craig had left Georgetown and moved to Manhattan and Dick Barsam had invited Annie Rieger, Craig, me and several others to his apartment for a Thanksgiving dinner.
The night before Thanksgiving, I was invited to Katrina Thomas’ for dinner.
And then, Thanksgiving at Dick Barsam’s.

With the election of Nixon, there seemed to be a moment of apprehensibly calm normality — if we were able to really remember what normality was.

We would soon learn that a Lieutenant William Calley had led a massacre in a small Vietnam village called My Lai. The victims had not been Viet Cong combatants but innocent men, women and children!  This would create yet another firestorm of protests. Eventually, Nixon would pardon Calley in 1974.

But that lay ahead of us.  Thanksgiving was fun.
Dick Barsam was a generous host.
Later, after dinner, Annie Rieger and I went to the apartment of some friends of hers.
These people and the mood were different with a whole other atmosphere from the previous one at Barsam’s.  There was a lot of speculation about how Nixon would handle the war and the protests and how all of this might affect the stock market and the economy!
It had been quite an intense and interesting evening and indeed, left me wondering what did lie ahead!  What would we be talking about on Thanksgiving next year in 1969?
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