Tommy the Traveler Reflections
Bruce Davis ’72
“I and the others who were charged with 2nd degree riot and other charges did not have our cases dismissed. At the last minute, the judge surprised us all and ordered us to jail for disorderly conduct. I spent 10 days in isolation in the local Geneva jail because I was considered a threat to the other prisoners (they thought I would organize them to be demonstrators or something!).
“I was considered such a danger to the jail house that they put me in an entire cell block by myself. I had about five cells to wander in and out of during the day. I am certain the danger was not because of my size but my political beliefs. They were afraid I would organize the other prisoners! Another funny side note is the shaving of our heads. During those days everything was black and white meaning if you had long hair you were part of the cultural revolution. If you had short hair you were either in the army, a jock, or redneck. After holding guns to our heads and shaving us, we suddenly had very short hair. People who did not know us thought we were now good kids. Police welcomed us and college kids wouldn’t come near us. The two years of legal motions and final time spent in jail was traumatic! Allen Ginsberg was on our legal defense committee and many people of some notoriety came forward to help us.
“Of course, those 10 days in jail by myself are the strongest memories I have of those years. I try to explain to our children what it was like but no one can really understand the atmosphere in America and at college during that time. A lifetime ago but also a time of beautiful community, friendship, and new awareness of our political system and ourselves including our potential.”
John King ’70
“I did participate in several anti-war demonstrations and was a volunteer in the student strike in the spring of 1970. Fear and loathing of the Vietnam War was palpable on campus, which was compounded for me because I received No. 86 out of the possible 365 in the first Draft Lottery. At some point during senior year, I remember being herded onto a bus and driven to Syracuse for a ‘pre-physical’ for military service, which I gathered was to determine in advance who was eligible for military induction. Soon after that, I drove my car to Toronto one weekend to explore emigration after graduation, but decided it was not for me. Instead, I filed for Conscientious Objector status; however, after the required interview at my local draft board, was denied this status. So, after receiving my draft notice on Christmas Eve 1970, I reluctantly enlisted in the Army and served 3 years.
“As a member of the Class of 1970, I completely agree with classmate Bob Gilman who was quoted in the article as saying that the period from 1966-70 saw more social changes than any other four year period in the Colleges’ modern history. This indeed struck a chord with me, and I have always been curious as to how others of my class felt about this period. Soon after arriving on campus as a freshman in sport coats and ties, we were given several days of orientation and some good-natured hazing by the Orange Key Society, part of which was, incredibly, a ‘panty raid’ on one of the William Smith dorms. From that point, college life was swept along in the rapid social change. I distinctly remember observing a ‘Happening’ on the Quad around 1968 or 1969 and saying to myself ‘whatever happens, don’t ever kid yourself that your college years were easy; remember that you are living through change happening so rapidly that you can’t process it fast enough.’ I also remember envying my parents’ generation that fought the ‘good war’ and could be justifiably proud of their country. Much later in life, I realized that even though we were hardly regarded as the Greatest Generation, we could look back with pride to the birth of social and political movements some of us participated in during the late 60s and early 70s that would have lasting effects over the following decades. These included: the protest against ill-conceived wars, the Women’s Movement, Gay Rights, and the Environmental Movement.”
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