Select Page

Fifty four years ago today this writer was getting ready to hitchhike to classes at Brooklyn College. It was a sunny, blue sky early Spring day, and the college was a few miles from our apartment building on the corner of Bedford Ave and Ave U. This writer was into but two important things in May of 1970: Meeting girls ( as we called them then) and preparing for our school’s first football schedule in over 15 years. Ah, to be twenty years old and looking ‘ lean and mean’ with my bellbottom jeans, longish wavy hair, Joe Namath green eyes and white buck shoes. I was ready to ‘ Rock and Roll’ at the campus.

Hanging out on the campus that day I first heard the news of President Nixon’s latest edict of sending US soldiers into the sovereign nation of Cambodia, along with our bombers, to rout the Vietcong. Up to that point, quite candidly, I cared too little ( for my own good) about the shit that was going down in Nam. Why should I? My self-centered narcissism was on cruise control with my 2-S draft deferment. As long as I stayed in school and took at least 12 credit hours a term Uncle could not touch me. The way I looked at it that would be at least three more years before I might be forced in uniform. Yet, when one of my old freshman baseball team pals gave me the lowdown on this latest dose of Nixonian craziness, I took notice… finally! My friend, Larry, in addition to his addiction to the trotters ( harness racing) and his girlfriend, was the first ‘ Lefty’ I had ever met at school. All of my football team compatriots were not into any sort of politics at all. Why I don’t really know, but I was just like them at this time. Larry said that this latest news was just too much to take for any sane American.

We all got the news about the many college campuses throughout the nation where there were not only demonstrations, but student strikes as well. Everything accelerated when some of our college’s more radical students were demanding that all military recruiters must get off our campus… NOW! Having experienced a few guys from my neighborhood coming home in boxes now hit home with me… finally! I joined the ranks of the protestors and got myself deep into the strike that just like that fermented. Before you know it I was up inside the school President’s office with a group of fellow strikers. The President had left his office, as had most of the other staff , including all of our professors and instructors. I organized a group of student strikers to join me in getting the campus grounds cleaned up of all the thousands of flyers throughout. I knew the local news would be there real soon, and wanted to show the world that protestors can be diligent in keeping things copacetic. A real trip was when I got a guy I knew from Buildings and Grounds, a handball buddy, to help us with the tools we needed to make things look normal.

The strike took a more ominous tone on May 4th when those four Kent State student protestors were shot dead by National Guardsman, just about the same age as them. The cops were soon called in but our student strike had already petered out. You see, it’s tough to maintain such an energy when 100% of the student population are commuters. So, the war in Vietnam had finally reached many of us students. I for one grew up that May of 1970 to become what I am today, a lifelong Anti ( Phony) War Activist.

PA Farruggio
May, 2024