“Hi I bet you folks are wondering why I gathered you all here today. My name is Clyde and I have quite a fanciful tale to tell. Long ago, Bob Dylan and several other folk singers and groups sang a very important song about quite a pivotal incident in my life. Maybe you all even know ‘Froggie Went a’ Courtin'”. That was how Clyde the Frog introduced his tale of boundless joy and woe to all who were willing to listen to him. Long ago he got his very heart and soul stolen forever by Miss Mouse, whose beloved uncle was Mr. Rat. Always the raconteur, old Clyde, to this very day, enjoys regaling folks with the tale of how he fell for the girl of his dreams and all the misadventures that thereafter ensued. The really old folks over in Luzerne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, where Clyde was born and raised, remember to this very day his uppity antics. “Well let me tell you,” said one old couple, “that there ‘Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’ was nothing compared to old Clyde! Twain shoulda seen our Clyde in his day!” That part of Pennsylvania is quite the mountainous region but Clyde, according to local ages-old legend and folklore, could most certainly handle it quite well. He could hike, climb, swim and do just about anything. Local folks swear he was a World War I flying ace under Black Jack Pershing. Clyde’s such a big star in northeastern Pennsylvania that each year, without fail, on July 3, there’s a big parade to commemorate his exploits in the 1878 Battle of Wyoming against the Iroquois Indian Raiders. Folks march all the way from the American Legion post in Dupont to the Public Square in Wilkes Barre in old Clyde’s honor on this magnificent occasion. Unfortunately because of old age, Clyde’s been getting a bit cantankerous and set in his ways these days. Folks around here are all still quite proud to know him though. He’s the ultimate inspiration to one and all.
I’ve always had such an exceptionally nice enjoyable time revisiting my past, and even the past in general. Though I’ve never considered it the least bit seriously dysfunctional, this morning I got a bit of a jolt that may end up ultimately changing my mind. Yesterday, the anniversary of the Kent State massacre in 1970, got me wallowing quite obsessively in my lifelong 1960’s obsession. I spent all day long dwelling on the events of that milestone. Today, el Cinco de Mayo, would have been my deceased parents’ fifty eighth wedding anniversary. That brings back quite a lifetime supply of memories too.
This morning I assumed that I should have nothing else to do than to take my virtually inevitable daily walk over to St. Mary of the Isle Church for 9:00 a.m. Mass and then to the Coffee Nut Cafe for a flavored cappuccino. After that, I took for granted, I could count on a relatively typical day. On my way home, though, I got a bit of a jolt.
As I passed by one of the houses in a local neighborhood, I couldn’t help noticing quite an oddly placed stop sign in the driveway. Ever the insatiably curious sort of fellow, I made sure I wandered over toward it to see exactly what it was all about. Predictably, considering the date, I was singing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s song, “Ohio”, to myself, as a true make-believe hippie. Having been plum overtaken by the suspense, I kept going until I found out the hard way just exactly why it would have been quite a good idea to stop. From out of nowhere, it was Tuesday, May 5, 1970. It took me a while to figure it all out though. I was genuinely stunned upon having overheard a bunch of teenagers and young adults claim that “last Thursday”, that scumbag Nixon had made a televised announcement of his decision to send U.S. troops in support of South Viet Nam’s invasion of Cambodia. “Oh!” I thought. “Are they re enacting a scene from April 30, 1970, or what?” Then they started cussing out yesterday’s murder at Kent State University. There were between 61 and 67 shots fired by the Ohio National Guard within thirteen seconds. Four unarmed students were needlessly murdered and nine,also unarmed, were wounded.
People were visibly terrified and crippled. Many had friends and relatives at the school. These people were forced to live through all the things I only knew about in my brain. Trembling anxiety and panic riddled hands grasped copies of that day’s Newsday, with the recent events emblazoned over its front page. Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” was playing on a nearby transistor radio. All were crying over the obscenity of a war that would ultimately end prematurely more than fifty eight thousand American lives. Suddenly all those objective facts and figures were people’s real lives. Eventually it all ended. I came home, took three Motrins for my migraine, and went to bed.
The preceding is a doffing of the hat to the events of forty four years ago yesterday. I’ve always been interested in the 1960’s so I couldn’t resist.