1970 was certainly turning out to be competitive with the Sixties as to excitement! Underground Weatherman bombings were continuing along with Anti-War protests and general feelings of hostility toward Nixon’s government! But not by everyone.
Vice President Agnew kept inciting The (so-called) Silent Majority to protests against the liberal anti war faction! High rise construction workers were said to have “accidentally” dropped objects onto protesters from high rise construction sites!
On a more positive note, the first ecology-oriented Earth Day and Earth Week was celebrated in late April! But at the end of that month President Nixon announced that the US was sending troops into Cambodia to “ensure a just peace” which only brought on even more demonstrations!
College campuses all over the US erupted in riots!
Ohio’s Governor Rhodes condemned anti-war demonstrators as equal to communists and the worst type of American! The next day at Kent State a peaceful anti war demonstration was fired upon by National Guardsmen killing four students and wounding eleven others! Following this, hundreds of colleges were shut down by student strikes and a subsequent 100,000 person march in Washington DC!
The voting age was legally lowered to 18! “Old enough to die in Vietnam, old enough to vote in the US!”
In July the Bay Area Zodiac killer claimed in a letter to The San Francisco Chronicle to have killed 13 people!
On August 24th four young anti war activists exploded a bomb at an Army Research Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison killing one researcher!
Everything appeared to be falling apart!
On my birthday, August 27th, Paul Bartel and I went to the Museum of Modern Art for a series devoted to the film director, George Cukor. What a relief and an escape to a much less stressful time — or so it seemed after so many decades! It didn’t matter: escape was escape and I could certainly use some!
My illustration rep’s husband Perry Browne kept praising Nixon and Agnew and saying that the police violence against protesters must have been justified — otherwise why would the police have had to react so very violently! The protests must’ve been illegal!
It was difficult for me to keep my mouth shut.
Cukor had made some of the greatest films I could remember! Camille with Greta Garbo, The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart, and so many others. And a lot of of them were being shown at MOMA!
After the screening of “the First Family,” Paul celebrated my birthday by inviting me to dinner at The Palm restaurant, a legendary newspaperman hangout since the 1920s!
The atmosphere at The Palm had maintained the mood and feeling of an earlier time with sawdust on the floor and waiters that resembled mechanics more than waiters at a fashionable steak house. The cigarette smoke-stained walls were covered with drawings and writings by famous news people!
I was thrilled to see drawings by some of my favorite cartoonists and illustrators! When Paul told the manager that I was myself an illustrator I was invited to join the gang on the wall and contribute a drawing! We were leaving — but I thanked the manager and said I’d be back! I went back many times after — but for some reason never added to the gallery on the walls!
A few days later I stopped at American Airlines to turn in a ticket for a cancelled trip to Washington, D.C.
Then I went down to Greenwich Village to meet Mara at The Ninth Circle.
And with a bit of cynical social commentary, finally home on the subway.
I met Dr. Frank Colenda for drinks at Willie’s on Third Avenue.
He was the doctor who cared for me at Lenox Hill Hospital when I contracted hepatitis — evidently from the prescribed Trisoralen drug I had taken in Puerto Rico, the drug enabling me to avoid the severe sunburns that I was subject to.
I’d been told that it could be toxic to the liver but since I didn’t take drugs or drink hard liquor it would likely be okay!
But evidently it wasn’t!
When I was checked into the hospital I was dressed in a yellow hospital gown. But when Dr. Colenda first walked into my room , he immediately told the nurse, “Quickly — get him into a blue gown! Anything but yellow! There’s already too much yellow!”
I was so jaundiced I was canary yellow! My eyes were the most interesting — or frightening: neon yellow headlights!
My room pretty soon became a hangout for him and the nurses and he and I developed a sort of friendship. He was a very instinctive person and intuited what to do before he’d even objectively tested it! He appeared to be very respected by the nurses and other doctors.
And he had a great sense of humor.
We needed a sense of humor!
The next day, September 4, Salvador Allende won the presidential election in Chile. A week later, Henry Kissinger in Washington discussed a CIA covert plan to oust Allende.
On September 15, President Nixon authorized a US-backed coup in Chile resulting in the installation of General Augusto Pinochet, who remained the repressive dictator until 1990 and Commander-in-Chief of the army until 1998! We in the United States did not yet know the term “blowback!”
That term would become informative much later.
Looking at these drawings almost 49 years later, I wonder if my mood at the time affected the way I saw my fellow New Yorkers!
But that night I went downtown to the cozy, atmospheric restaurant, the Winecellar, for dinner with Buzzy King. Earlier, I’d caught another great George Cukor movie at MOMA!
Then — taking the reality-based subway home to the Upper East Side.
Thank heaven — just when I needed it — the weekend was here. And after seeing another Cukor film at MOMA (Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn), I packed up my white Persian companion Tybalt in his wicker carrier and we were off to the country!