|Memoir by Stan Gotlieb|
It was 1966 (or was it ’65?); a warm sunny day the likes of which one appreciates all the more for being infrequent in San Francisco. Ellen and I were hustling down Powell Street to go buy something or other we couldn’t live without that was on sale at that Market Street monument to spending, The Emporium.
When we got to Market, there was a thin crowd gathered along the curb, and some sort of march going by. We stopped to watch. Lots of young folks, a few oldsters; people on roller skates (this was before blades) and in wheelchairs; lots of folks who looked about as stoned as we were; and then, a good friend. “What’s up?” we yelled. “Goin’ for a walk”, she replied. “Come on along”.
Ellen and I looked at each other and shrugged. We didn’t need whatever-it-was as badly as we had thought, evidently, because the next thing we knew we were marching. “Where are we going?” I asked. Kezar Pavilion (a major stadium in Golden Gate Park). “Why there”? To have a big rally. “Really? Well, we will walk with you, but we’ll have to see about the rally business”.
By the time we got to Kezar, we were pooped, so it seemed to make sense to go in and sit awhile. When we got inside, the stadium was about a third full. We sat, amazed, as time went by and the stadium filled up. All those people. It began to occur to us that maybe this anti-war movement was a whole lot bigger than we had thought.
On stage, there were lots of instruments and speakers and microphones. As the last of the marchers straggled in, the show kicked off. Speakers, some of which we had never heard, nor of their organizations; and some who were famous. Lots of hot local bands, most of which we knew. And a constantly recurring refrain: bring the troops home now.
I should explain at this point that it wasn’t that we were unaware of the war, or that we were not adamantly opposed to its continuance, or that we did not argue with our co-workers and others who evinced support for the war; it was rather that we were too busy working, getting stoned, and having fun, to tune in on the organizing that was going on. We were Yuppies before there were Yuppies, except that we preferred to spend our extra money on sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, rather than invest it.
We found out later that we had been in San Francisco’s first major anti-war march and mass demonstration. I can’t say it significantly changed our life style, but we did buy a couple of anti-war bumper-stickers for our car. In our minds, we were committed. We marched many more times after that. Eventually, the war did end, but not until many years had passed.
As I write this in 2007, with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drums of war beating for Iran, I pray that the people, having had enough, might decide to rise up once again, and force our “leaders” to do the right thing.