Summer of 68

I was about to turn 16. I lived in a tenement on the north side of Chicago. Magnolia Avenue from Montrose to Wilson was lined with the red brick three and four story buildings. The tiny apartments were barely heated with steam radiators in winter and cooled by nothing in summer. People dragging mattresses out on to fire escapes at night for reprieve from those big brick ovens were common. On some days the local firehouse would open up a hydrant and the neighborhood kids would splash around in the street. With my few friends, we beat the heat spending many days at the Lake Michigan Montrose beach. Whenever I think of my time in Chicago, it is of the north side’s trash strewn streets and concrete. Quite a contrast for one transplanted from West Virginia’s green hills.

I came to be in Chicago because my Dad migrated to the big city that was filled with factories and factory work. I suppose that made us economic immigrants. We were just part of that great big American middle class that could move, if need be, to find work and better our lives while along the way providing the labor force that built a nation. I suppose it is the disappearing middle class these days.

About a year later I would become a 16 year-old high school dropout working full time in one of those Chicago factories. It is certainly not a course I would recommend for any young person, but it worked out well for me and I learned valuable lessons not taught in Chicago’s school system of the day.

In 68, my brother Jerry was finishing up his Army tour with a Vietnam tour. He stood final muster this past year a victim of the ravages of Agent Orange. Jerry finished High School, the first in my family to do so and immediately enlisted into the Army. Just another member of that American middle class doing what he thought he was supposed to do.

A “conservative” writer from National Review believes “The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die.” His writing is as much of an attack on Donald Trump as it is on the people Trump appeals to. The people who feel no one in snob America gives a rat’s rear end about them and has not for a long time. The people who no longer have a factory to look to for that job that can give a youngster with no path to an expensive college a start in life. So the welfare state moves in and does to these communities what it has done to others – destroys them and their chance with big government, a globalist worldview and corporate centered trade pacts that eliminates the jobs they might have had. If this is conservative thinking, then I suppose I am no conservative. I want no part of National Review’s ivory tower thinking. This thinking has made America ripe for a communist like Bernie Sanders who promises everything except opportunity and work.

But, back to the summer of 68. The democrats had their convention there in 68. The Yippies, Youth International Party, organized demonstrations for the convention. Some called the Yippies radicalized hippies. Hippies the pot smoking, LSD dropping, communal free-love anti-war draft dodgers. These demonstrations morphed into riots. I watched some of it on television and listened to the rioters who were having the crap kicked out of them by the Chicago Police Department chanting ‘The whole world is watching.” And probably rooting for the cops I thought.

Among these hippie yippie commie loving American GI hating miscreants, you could probably find people like Bernie Sanders, Bill and Hill, John Kerry, Obama mentor and terrorist Bill Ayers and a whole list of others who are still trying to destroy our country. They are starting to turn up now at Trump rallies because he is the antithesis of what they have been indoctrinated to believe. It would not surprise me at all if these demonstrations continue until they erupt into full scale riots similar to those in the summer of 68. Maybe Governor Kasich might want the Ohio National Guard to bone up on riot control.

I left Chicago after walking into Staff Sergeant Ball’s Recruiting station a few days shy of my 19th birthday.

© 2016 J. D. Pendry All Rights Reserved

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