I decided to head my motorcycle West because I had already been East. My parents, Grace & Jack, had moved from Chicago to Philadelphia my freshman year at college so my Dad could write the grade school reading program “Communicating” for D. C. Heath & Co. So there’d already been lots of car trips, hitchhiking trips, bus trips and plane trips East to visit my parents and younger siblings and explore NYC, New England, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and the Appalachian Trail to Asheville.
Finally! Graduation Day!! Grace & Jack, my parents, weren’t coming because we had started a family tradition in high school not to be pompous, and put on a cap & gown, because Of Course You’re Graduating – entirely expected – no big deal. “If you want to leave for California instead, that’s great” is what they said. So the morning after graduation me and Earth Protector are ready to head West on Hwy. 212 to California. Earth Protector was a Honda 450 motorcycle with earth-tone brown coloring. I had about enough money saved to make it through the Summer (if I camped-out most nites) before I’d have to land somewhere and get a job that paid enough to live on.
On Saturday, June 5, 1972, a whole bunch of fellow graduates stopped by my dorm room over-looking the seating arrangements for the commencement ceremony and said their good-byes – although I had decided to save up a little bit more before leaving, move into the fraternity house for a month, and work the midnight shift at a temporary job in a downtown bank building handling a 3M stock split. (We made one new Certificate for every existing Certificate and put the new certificate in the mail to the owner.) Just as the parents started filing into their seats, I had an inspiration. I should attend the Ceremony with a sign that said on one side in red, white and blue:
You see Professor Uemera I did learn Haiku in your class! The other side in black & white: “They Also Die Who Stand and Watch.” However, my timing wasn’t very good. I just finished my sign and braved to bring it outside when the Processional started towards the stage and I ended up being the very first person in the procession carrying my sign. Now I couldn’t get out of this even if I wanted to – I was making a statement. Trying to be un-dramatic I veered towards the bleachers as the Procession went up on stage.
When they got to my name and announced “Unable to attend” my classmates looked back at my sign and clapped. On the last day of the 3M stock split we even made brownies for the crew. (Two pretty co-eds from my dorm had also decided to take these temporary jobs and I had also gotten them rooms at the frat house.) The next day I was riding Earth Protector towards California. Three days later I got my first motel room in Estes Park, Colorado. The next morning I headed Earth Protector West towards the Great Divide through Rocky Mountain National Park. At the edge of town I picked up a hitchhiker who said, “Hey, are you going to the festival?”
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