Thursday, May 26, 2011

Some Search Help and the Long Version Finally Told

Got an email yesterday from Roberta MacDonald, from North Carolina. Seems that she's looking for lost classmates too, using the classmates page as a reference.  We're now communicating, soon to be coordinating our searches to be more efficient and to avoid duplication of effort. Wonderful. We use some of the same resources, but some different too so we can cast a wider net to find the "NOT LOCATED".

Also been talking to Nancy Gaestel Jasinski about the database. Nancy is going to work on getting the existing one up to date and have it become the authoritative go-to database from which everyone can work. I think together we can make sure that everyone is contacted about the 45th and we can grow the event. Selfishly, there are people I want to see again. Distance may prevent seeing them in person, but the Internet is everywhere and Skype is a reality, not just a pipedream like it was a decade ago.

So this is the longer more complete version of the short form. I'll save the true autobiography for the NYT Best sellers list. If I'm going to write that one, I might as well get some return on it.

Milton graduates from Wayne Valley HS with over 600 comrades in arms. He spends most of the summer working. He worked for a hematologist in a lab in Newark General Hospital catheterizing lab rats so they could be injected with elemental mercury to study the clotting process in search of a better coagulant/anticoagulant agent by better understanding the clotting process. Prepared liver sections for electron microscopy too. This was during that time when everyone was convinced, friend and family alike that Milton was destined to be a doctor or lawyer, or at least an Indian Chief. Well the work was okay but what really blew me away was the day that I left work and the Newark Riots had just erupted over the arrest and beating of a taxicab driver a couple of days before. They started wheeling bodies into Newark General including a headless woman who made the mistake of sticking her head out the window to see what was going on. Multiple National Guard rounds just took it off. As I left work and got on the northbound Garden State Parkway, the southbound ramp that I used to get to work was now occupied by a NJ National Guard machine gun emplacement. So ended my summer employment. Little did I know that events would follow me to New Haven.

Milton hit the halls of Ivy that Fall, and quickly discovered college life and semi-independent living, the academic requirements of Yale and came to some, astonishing conclusions. It was all quite picturesque and old but that doesn't change the fact that Yale sucks. It is equally divided between charter members of the lucky sperm club (alumni sons of the rich and famous) or professional cut-throat overachievers looking to become members of the club they don't have the genetics for (see above). It seems however that the year of my admission, they made the almost fatal error of altering their admissions policies to bring in people who were both academically qualified but also activist in school. When they made this decision, they had no idea of the upheavals that would soon engulf the campus in political activity and tear gas.

I spent my first year trying to become what Yale said I ought to be. I was never that person. I will never be that person because I would have held myself in contempt. By sophomore year, I was drifting, doing the work but without interest or particular diligence. I gradually realized that being an English major meant that they would tell me what dead authors intended based on their authority alone, without evidence. They were looking for me to validate their opinion as a better one than anyone else's, for a grade. I couldn't do that. The point of reading is to come to your own conclusions based on how the words affect you in your life. The greatness comes when the books affect so many people in much the same way as to attain a level of universality.

The rest of my college campus life was upheaval and turmoil. The University employees went on strike. A group of students occupied the campus post office in support. A curious Milton was there, got swept up in the events and stayed long enough to come under disciplinary review by the University. I got "rusticated" for a couple of days. Yeah, kicked off campus for expressing a non-violent opinion about University labor policy. Well. that certainly set the stage.

To make a long story shorter, let me list some of the events of the next couple of years that I was in the thick of. Psychedelia, long hair and rock and roll,  Black Panther trials, Vietnam War protests and tear gassing of students, academic review of the traditional grading system and adoption of a pass/fail system, Kent State, May Day, Washington DC Days of Protest, Yippies, Hippies, boycotting of graduation. The only good thing that happened was that Yale went co-ed. By the time junior year was upon us, I was living off campus in East Haven with a bunch of common minded friends. By the time Senior year and graduation arrived, all this was like riding water in a toilet down the drain swirling down to who knew where.  I was working construction for a contractor specializing in slum landlord renovations in the New Haven ghetto up Whitney and Dixwell Avenues. Sorta like Forrest Gump except I didn't get shot in the buttocks.

This isn't easy to remember. It s hard to separate what actually happened with a lot of details which I remember happening but may be the result of what I wanted to believe was happening. You know how if you tell yourself it happened that way often enough, it can become your memory of that event? I don't think it happened to me too often, but I know it happens. That's another good reason to keep up friendships, to cross check your coloration of history, especially your own.

I'll save my personal edition of Roots and The Journey to the West for another time. The point of this exposition is not necessarily to air my dirty laundry. It is more for you to realize that each of us has a story to tell. We all want people to know that we walked this earth, that somehow we left our mark. So tell us your story. I'm telling you mine.

Although I've said it on Facebook and elsewhere, it bears repeating here. Tim Henneman and Chris Lurie have been happily married for 44 years now in Zebulon NC. Now that's a wonderful thing. Neither is "not located" any longer.

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