Saturday, July 9, 2011

Where Was THAT Light You Said I Could Follow?

Washington, D.C. and Me (1961 – 2011)

Spring Into Summer, 1965

The year, 1965, had started off as a promising one. Lyndon Johnson, inaugurated now for the second time, with full presidential festivities, had lifted our depressed spirits. And, I had attended one of the inaugural balls.

A dressmaker friend had hand-crafted an elegant ball gown of bright pink brocade with light pink satin lining for me. The matching long-trained coat gave me the feel of being a foreign-born royalty as my date and I made our way through the inaugural ball at the National Guard Armory.

Though truth be told, the crowds were so massive and my stepped-on-feet so sore I never aspired to repeat such a celebration as this again. Still there was, in this instance, the optimism that had, originally, brought us to Camelot.

Then, if memory serves me, I was back at my desk at the office of the Women’s Strike For Peace, never settling it, for myself, whether or not they were of the Light or the Dark. I had other interests on my mind.

(Investigated by HUAC (Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, according to wikipedia, the Women’s Strike For Peace, founded by Bella Abzug and Dagmar Wilson, “played a crucial role, perhaps the crucial role, in bringing down the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

They were, also, acknowledged by both U Thant and John F. Kennedy as a factor in the adoption of the Limited Test Ban Treaty (signed August 5, 1963), and (in early 1964), were among the first Americans to oppose the Vietnam War.)

Working in the same office building (actually a former elegant row house just off Dupont Circle) I made my first D.C. friend. Dale Schwartz (??), an aide of Senator Richard Russell of Georgia. Dale, who had a part time job in another of the offices here, and I soon became fast friends.

I wish I knew where Dale was, now, that I have learned to cherish every friend I make. He was a dear to me in those early days. But I was still a good twenty years, at least, away from truly getting the lesson of honoring friendships. And, D.C., as I knew it then, was not a haven for developing lasting, loyal bonds.

Did I communicate to Dale how crazy my job scene was for me? Certainly, he would have known about the HUAC charges. But I probably said nothing. I didn’t know how to think about things in those days, much less speak of them.

Besides I was just learning about social life in D.C.  Living near our office in a guy’s group house, next door to a “girls” group house, Dale, generously, invited me into their crowd. Back and forth they went, day and night, from one house to the other.

Here I learned the art of all night dancing and drinking parties. And, for the first time since my marriage, I met a guy I really liked. The girls were incidental. Having no real set of morals yet, guy #2 soon, unscrupulously, replaced Dale (as I had also done with my inaugural ball date) without a blink of an eyelash. Ooh. I am so sorry I did that.

Before long, summertime came and the “P Street parties” were transported to the beach and its bars. I was now doing things I’d only started to sample at Ohio State. Too early for the adventures yet to come of being a hippie, or its most extreme version, a flower child, we still did manage to bring a sense of light to our lives; partying all night, sleeping on sand dunes and waking up to the morning sun in someone’s arms.

Growing up with frequent Santa Monica beach days and “early evenings,” with my parents not far off, I was used to the beach part; small bonfires and cookouts, watching the grunion run along the shore. But “partying” beyond fraternity parties was a brand new thing to me, especially without supervision.

I had come to Washington, D.C. for the light. With JFK’s assassination and a divorce, it had become blocked to my eyes. Now I no longer even looked for it.

The Dark Side; my Dark Side, that of others and the D.C. fast track scene in general, would soon overtake me

More “Finding Light Inside The Darkness” to come.

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