Schulenberg’s Page: American Society in ’69

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1969:  The Vietnam War had split American society into two opposing camps, the anti-war left and the war supporters on the right.  The brilliant intellectual and aristocratic wordsmith William Buckley made pronouncements that annoyed the war resisters even more!  I don’t remember who stated the judgement that I quoted above (and wrote down in my sketchbook) but that was the feeling about him — if anyone had any feelings about him.

I had finished a commission for a medical promotion and needed a break.

The job had been fun to do and the agency and the client loved it.  The product was one pill that took care of four symptoms; sneezing, anxiety, nausea and coughing!  The headline called it “A Pill for Four Reasons” echoing the popular Man for All Seasons.

I noticed on the cautionary text however that taking the medication might have side effects of sneezing, anxiety, nausea and/or coughing!  I guess if you took it for allergic sneezing you might feel nauseated and on and on — just possibly exchanging one malady for another!

The text was not my responsibility, just the imagery so I took an afternoon off and met Gary Van Kirk at the Boathouse in Central Park.

Being a beautiful day in early October it appeared that a lot of people had the same idea!

The next evening I had a quick dinner with friends at The Haymarket.

I had to leave earlier than I wanted because I had a deadline — a job for Money Magazine.  It was for a headline illustration to resemble an Art Deco bas relief like the ones at Rockefeller Center.

With my large collection of early 20th century magazines I was an early fan and exploiter of 1920s art and design.  Since my first portfolio of art samples was influenced by my old magazines, I always thought that I might have gotten work because art buyers may have thought that I was an old survivor coming back to start working again!  They did seem a little surprised at first meeting me, but I never asked why.

Taking another break, I was waiting to meet my friend Dennis Ritz at Yellowfingers.  There was always someone or something to draw there with Bloomingdale’s across the street and all the hip boutiques on 60th Street … so waiting wasn’t boring.

I met Dennis while working out at the gym we both belonged to.  He had a career in the business end of the entertainment industry but was much more than a business man.  He had himself started out as an actor, but, like many decided being in an executive position was more satisfying.

The next day I was drawn back to Central Park and the restaurant at the Bethesda Fountain.  It was like a drug to me;  there was always so much life and nonstop street theater going on.  Being October I realized that soon it would be winter and the Show would close and move on.

On that day I wasn’t disappointed.  A person wearing a brightly colored robe/garment with a leopard print satin cape and an enormously explosive orange colored Afro was walking with a four-year-old child wearing flowing robes and a turban!  It didn’t seem to be a national costume of some sort but more of an East Village getup.

But that’s what I came hoping to see!

Nick Rutherford lived close to me on the Upper East Side, so it was convenient to get together for dinner.

After dinner, I would normally go back to draw finding it less distracting to work at night!

In those days there were a lot of small, very inexpensive restaurants in the neighborhood; and it was more convenient to eat out than to have to cook and clean up.

They were nothing very special but certainly convenient and very popular with the local neighborhood.

So leaving Nick, I went home to my drawing table.

I had a deadline.


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