Activism & Generational Outlooks / 1950s (multiple responses)

SIXTIES-L (SIXTIES-L@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU)
Mon, 26 Oct 1998 16:58:20 -0500


From: <>
Subject: Re: Activism and generational outlooks

To Country Joe,
You mentioned that departures from the norm in the 50s were rare and that
penalties were substantial. As a matter of historical and cultural interest,
could you elaborate on this for my benefit and other readers?
The 50s is generally popular;y defined as the era of kindly Ike and "Father
Knows Best." But was it not also the time of juvenile delinquency, rock and
roll and other departures from the norm which, if not as radical as the 60s,
certainly contained seeds for future development?
Tony Williams


Subject: Re: Activism and generational outlooks

I like to add to what Country Joe, Susan, Kev, and Michael have said. My
grandparents, who were old time socialists, raised me. Grandfather was a labor
leader here, said he was a pacifist but carried iron in his lunch pail in case
the Railroads goons jumped him on the way to work. This was before 1924, so
the story goes. He had the support of the other workers and others and it was
difficult to get to him, although he was fired by the MOPAC in 1920 after 25
years but the guys slipped him into a job on the Santa Fe. He retired in 1940.
Both grandparents died when I was in college in the 50s. My uncle, who took
after the old man became my mentor.

Joe has it right about the 50s. But when I got out of the army in 1965 I think
I knew which way the sh*t was flowing. Eventually I was defrocked as a
political scientist, came home, and taught high school, was run out, joined the
laborer's union and worked at that. My uncle and other relatives were
supportive. Now I'm a lecturer at Wichita State University and hang on
probably because they need at least one local who knows where the bodies are
buried around here as well as a token in the direction of institutional memory.
If I wanted to sign up for my dog food and a*s kiss the slobs who run the
school, I'd be a professor. But I never can bring myself to do it. I know
this sounds self-rightious, but so what--that's what keeps me going.

An old friend in running for Congress as a demo in Western Kansas at this
time--a place that's in the hip pocket of the multi-nationals. We just
returned from a 7 county swing (66 counties in the district all together) where
we preached "community control" to anyone who would listen. One local editor
put my buddy's message out on AP and it hit every newspaper, TV and Radio
station in the district. We had lots of fun and meet many good people
including old radicals out there farming.

The point: keep going--remember what Ma Barker said to her boys. Think about
E.V.Debs, Mary Ellen Lease, Kate O'Hare, and Mother Jones--there were many
others around here and they are remembered.

I could go on and on, but it's not over until it's over, and Mark Rudd (to get
back to the main question) certainly paid his dues, and I wish he were teaching
my children at whatever college.