Sophomore year started out with big news. Our incoming class president (whom we’d just elected in the Spring) wasn’t coming back having been arrested trying to cross the Mexican Border with marijuana packed in his tires, apparently not figuring the tires would heat up; and when he got to the border, the marijuana was smelling like it had already been lit.
Going to college between 1968 and 1972 was like that. In 1968 hardly anybody smoked pot. In 1972 almost everybody did. In 1968 you could only be in a girl’s room on a Saturday afternoon with the door cracked. In 1972 we were pretty close to having co-ed showers (that’s another story). In 1968 only some of us were conscious of the world around us; by 1972 we were all marching for peace and getting on busses to Washington D.C. to protest the war. In 1968 I was one of the few peaceniks for McCarthy, and there were plenty of Republicans on campus; by 1972 we were all (almost all) rabid Nixon-haters and for McGovern.
Rock music and marijuana smoking had a lot to do with the changes, but to this day I believe something bigger was going-on: We were in a cultural change to be a people more into sharing, less into materialism, not so much caring how fancy you dressed, more willing to tolerate non-conformity; a society more open to individual freedoms and expression and equal rights for us all (women and minorities as well). I explore why this didn’t carry forward or become big changes politically in my “Open Letter to Jack & Nick,” but I’ll always wonder what if RFK hadn’t been assassinated? What if the Democrats mad at Humphrey about Chicago hadn’t sat out the 1968 election? What if Tricky Dick (Nixon) hadn’t employed dirty tricks to beat McGovern? What if all of us 1972 Hamline grads had been able to do whatever we wanted, rather than be saddled with college debt and needing to join The Establishment to pay back loans? What if there would have been some real leadership in the 70s instead of an onslaught of cynicism?
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