1973 was a year that brought about a change in the way I viewed the world around me. I was seventeen and the spirit of rebellion had encompassed my world. The war in South East Asia brought an in your face attitude towards the establishment and all that it stood for. Gone it seemed were the innocent days when Grandfather would take me to church; gone and filed in the back of my mind as a time that I thought would never be revisited again.
As I look back on this now from eyes that have seen and endured much, I often regret those wasted years that defied the very core of the principles that I was taught as a child.
As I stare at the plate before me, seeing only the crumbling remains of the Graham crackers I just ate. I reflect back on those times and how I got from there to here and I am thankful. I am thankful in the fact that I am still here; unlike the many who joined with me in my march against the norms of society. Why me, and not them I have often wondered? Why is it that Mike; Dean and Steve all died at such an early age and not I as well? We all did the same things, we all partied like there was no tomorrow to which that was sadly the case for them.
I remember the first time I ever tried drugs, it as at the start of the 1973 school year. There were some of us guys out behind the gym shooting baskets during our free period. We were all basically clean cut and decent students. I myself had an A average up to that point. We all played sports and participated in school events, we were your average all American teenage boys, but that all changed that afternoon when a senior named Jesse approached us on the court. His hair was long and he sported a bad excuse for a goatee on his chin. He wore a tie-dyed T-shirt and bell bottom jeans. A large chain hung from his neck and at the end of that chain was a large silver “Peace Symbol”.
I remember like it was yesterday when he walked up on the court and motioned us to walk over to where he stood. He looked us square in the eyes and asked, “yall ever get high”?
Mike then chimed in with his man of the world voice and stated “yeah, sure, we have lots of times” He was lying of course, but far be it from Mike to be cool. Jesse then proceeded to produce a small plastic bag which contained something that resembled the sage and parsley in mom’s kitchen. He said we could have it for five dollars and that he would even throw in a pack of rolling papers free of charge. I had serious doubts about this, but the rest of the guys were all for it, therefore a purchase was made and it just as soon could have been a pact with the devil himself. Life from that point on began its downward spiral into the depths of a culture that delivered years of shame.
I looked back up now from the empty plate filled with tiny crumbs. I shook off the distant recollections of those wasted years and thought back to the times before the counter culture, I thought once again of Grandfather and how happy I was to be with him. On Sunday’s after church if it was during summer vacation, we would leave church and go over to his house where I would spend the night. This was sure to bring excitement and mystery since his house was filled with artifacts from a time so long ago. Like I had mentioned earlier, Grandfather worked on the railroad at the turn of the 20th century and he had so many things to capture my young imagination with. One thing that I really looked forward to was playing with the telegraph that he had hooked up in the living room and the basement. He taught me Morse and He would stay in the living room and I would go to the basement. I would sit wide eyed waiting for the first Dash…Dash. Dot…dash to come over the line. When it would, I would reply in kind with my own answer. To an eight year old with a fascination for history, this was pure delight. After about thirty minutes of this he would tap out for me to get back upstairs and wash up for dinner. I still dream of those dinners Grandmother would make even today.
Fried Chicken and fried pork chops….to be continued.
J. Allen Wilson © 12-2007