WHERE HAVE YOU GONE JOE STALIN DIMAGGIO?
By Philip Drucker
My earliest political memory is a very short one. I remember my parents were watching the 13" B&W TV with the rabbit ears and tin foil. I can hear the man (probably Walter Cronkite) saying something about Soviet missiles in Cuba. He seemed very worried. So did my parents.
I asked them what was going on. My father shooed me away saying "not now" or something like that. This was not unusual as my father was a big believer in for the most part, children shouldn't be seen or heard. Now I'm not saying there is a whole lot of information regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis that a three year old can understand, but even at that early age I could tell there was something going on and it was no bueno.
After a few more minutes passed, my Mom leaned over and told me there were bad men who wanted to hurt us. Hurt the whole country and that President Kennedy would protect us. For the next 13-days the world sat on the edge of nuclear war and destruction. I recall "Nikita" being mentioned quite a few times. I thought it was a woman's name, or perhaps a dog as in "here Nikita, fetch!" I thought it possible partly because I heard the term "Bay of Pigs" bandied about and if this "cold war" (whatever that was) could have pigs, it might have other animals involved as well. Please keep in mind I was three.
I found the possible involvement of domestic animals comforting. I liked dogs and cats. I had a couple of goldfish in a bowl with some gravel and a decorative treasure chest on the bottom. My first two fish were named Ricky and Lucy. They both died of the "ICH".
Did you know ichthyophthirius multifiliis, or the “ICH”, is a parasitic skin disease affecting fresh water fish? When directly translated, the name means “the fish louse with many children”. Almost poetic, don't you think?
I wondered if they went to heaven. I was told they went to fish heaven but there were no animals allowed in human heaven. this seemed rather unfair to me as I was thoroughly disappointed I would have to live in the afterlife without my beloved pet goldfish. As it turns out, these were the first seeds of discontent with organized religion that were planted in my brain (and still remain).
As for the Cuban Missile Crisis, I still remember the day we "won" when the Great JFK or Kennedy, forced the Russians out of Cuba for good. Take yer blasted vodka and ICBMs and away with ye! USA! USA! USA! It was a good time to be an American. Yes, it was.
It was during this time, or shortly thereafter that I began to hear new and different words, phrases and people. Che, Mao, Nixon, and LBJ all come to mind. Commies, reds, traitors, hippies (and later Yippies as I recall) also entered my lexicon. My favorite TV show was the Ed Sullivan show. I loved Topo Gigio. I had no idea who the Beatles were. I thought they looked like girls. My father was sure they were homosexuals.
I remembered seeing love beads, shoulder length long hair on men the first time. Paisley shirts and these funny olive green shirts with names printed on them. They were called "vets" and for the most part had been serving their country in a place called "Viet Nam." I had no idea where that was, but when I heard they were "commies" I knew we were doing the right thing.
Then President Kennedy was assassinated. All of a sudden, I wasn't so sure that everything was going to be alright. By now I was four going on forty and the world seemed like a very scary place. I was right.
The next major upheaval in my life came when I was involuntarily forced to attend public school. Looking back, life was pretty much OK up and until then. Within a very short amount of time I became convinced I could learn everything I needed to know from watching "Jeopardy!" And so began a life of truancy which on looking back, was very ambitions for someone my age, very ambitions indeed. But, alas, it didn't work. I was forced to work for the "Man".
I'm convinced my civil rights were being violated, the only problem being I didn't know what they were. It was just another phrase I picked up from the hippies. Sounded good. They sure used it a lot. And I do mean a lot.
As I slowly made my way through what seemed like an eternity in grammar school, I began to sense what I can only refer to now as a "shared frustration" pitting one part of American society against the other. "Don't trust anyone over 30!" became the rallying cry of a new generation. "If it feels good, do it!" What felt good? Why, sex and drugs and rock and roll of course. It was getting weird out there.
But then again, so was the nightly news Vietnam body count. Each night, a different number. Sometimes more than the day before, sometimes less. Peace talks kept breaking down and the numbers of the dead and wounded just kept coming, and coming and coming.
Recent events in Afghanistan have triggered quite a few of what I thought were lost feelings and memories. As with Vietnam, the Afghanistan War, the longest continuing military conflict in our history, is going on and on and on with no clear objective or end in sight. Why are we there? What do we hope to accomplish in a land mostly inhabited by itinerant herders with no real influence on our part of the world?
As with the Vietnamese, why are they our "enemy"? My guess is the Afghani people are not. So why do we keep on killing them? Remember the part about changing hearts and minds? Yeah, killing the Vietnamese in their own homes and villages didn't really work, now did it?
And then there's the traitor Trump and his inexplicable hard-on for Putin, the Russian, the commie, the red menace, the ex-KGB murderer putting $10,000.00 hard cash bounties for the dead bodies of our soldiers? Trump’s response (if you could call it that)?
Again, he sells us, America out and for what? What could possibly be worse than putting our soldiers, our warriors in harm's way without even a peep much less a rebuke, with or without appropriate action, to his S&M puppet master in the Kremlin?
Kennedy would have known what to do. Hell, George W. Bush would have known what to do (maybe). The question now becomes, just like that familiar feeling from back then, what are we going to do? To encapsulate, people including our soldiers are still dying for no discernible reason and with no end in sight. You still laughing at the hippies? You shouldn't they were right and now you know why.