Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.
When I got out of the Army, summer 1964, I had a lot of ideas about my bright future. Shopped around the Portales area for a while and found a quarter-section cotton farm I thought briefly I’d buy and become a starving-to-death farmer, which fell through. Worked meanwhile, for Abe Ribble at his cement operation, and applied for the Peace Corps, knowing I wouldn’t hear from them for several months.
I was hanging out with a number of other young guys who were at loose ends, drinking coffee and walking around town, sitting on benches around the courthouse trying to figure out the meaning of life. Going out with a waitress out at the truckstop when she got off work at midnight. A young woman with goals, and confidence that no matter what a man might want for himself, she could mold him into something more to her liking. Once she got him nailed down on all the corners.
The World Fair was going on in New York that year. I could feel the walls of Portales trying to close in on me, and the guys I’d been spending spare time with were mostly thinking of themselves as beatniks, to the extend a person could be a beatnik in Portales. A slight beard and a beret went a long way in that direction. Sketchpad and a piece of charcoal, or a lot of free-verse poems jotted on cafe napkins were the tools.
So another aspiring beatnik, Stan Sexton, and I, decided to hitch to beatnik heaven. Check out the World Fair. Visit a couple of New Yorker weekend beatniks who went to Eastern New Mexico University, but were home in Westchester that summer.
I’ve told elsewhere on this blog about that summer, about sleeping on the Brooklyn Bridge, about catching the freight-train out late-August, jail in Rochester, and eventually hitching, driving the school bus to California, etc. About all those would-be beatnik women and the “Eh? YOU don’t believe in free love?” pickup line that always worked.
When I was accepted for Peace Corps Training and headed out of New York I had no idea I was seeing the dying gasp of the Beatnik phase everywhere. That a year later everyone who was anyone would be Hippy. That Greenwich Village would be replaced by San Francisco as the center of ‘what’s happening in America’. Kids would be burning their draft-cards and taking acid trips. Doing ‘Love-ins’ in the park.
By the time I got back to Portales to spend my time waiting for the Peace Corps India X training to begin in Hawaii the world had begun a sea-change, though it didn’t know it.
But at least some of the pressure was off in Portales. The waitress had found someone else with better prospects for a bright future. Cotton farmer, he turned out to be, if I remember correctly.