Category Archives: Anniversary

May 31 Music et al

May 31 Music et al

Jimi Hendrix enlists

May 31 Music et al

May 31, 1961: Hendrix (19 years old) enlisted in the Army after  being caught for a second time riding in stolen cars and given a choice between spending two years in prison or joining the Army. After completing basic training, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. (see Hendrix for expanded military chronology)

May 31 Music et al

Jimi Hendrix discharged

May 31, 1962: paperwork was filled recommending a discharge for Hendrix. (see June 29)

May 31 Music et al

White album begins

May 31 Music et al

May 31, 1968: from the Beatles Bible: While the precise date is unknown,towards the end of May 1968 The Beatles met at Kinfauns, George Harrison’s bungalow in Esher, Surrey. There they recorded demo versions of a number of songs written in India, 19 of which later appeared on the White Album.

The 27 songs believed they recorded the songs on Harrison’s Ampex four-track reel-to-reel tape recorder. They grouped them mostly grouped together by the composer of each song, although John Lennon’s songs were more scattered across the day.

Sessions will span 4+ months, ending on Oct 14. (see July 17)

May 31 Music et al

Timothy Leary dies

May 31 Music et al

May 31, 1996: Timothy Leary died. From Find a Death dot com: In 1995, he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. I was speaking to Rocky Horror actor Barry Bostwick a couple of weeks ago. As I do.  He had prostate cancer, and was cured. However, he still goes in for checkups all the time, and could not emphasize enough the importance of getting checked. Especially men in their early 40s. So take it from Brad, do it guys.

Timothy’s god daughter was shoplifter Winona Ryder. She supposedly moved in with him a couple of weeks before he died. It is said that she loved him deeply, and the two were very close.

On May 31, 1996 – Leary was in bed and everyone was waiting for him to die.  Suddenly he sat up and asked, “Why not? Why not? Why not?” It was 12:44 a.m., and the 75 year old died. About 20 friends, his stepson Zach, and his ex-wife Rosemary Woodruff Leary were with him. Timothy made sure that the entire event was videotaped. (see November 10, 2001)

May 31 Music et al

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Say the words “Kent State” to any Boomer and they will associate those words with one thing: the 1970 National Guard killing of four students at the Ohio college.

It is a sad testament to our history that the word Orangeburg does not conjure the same.

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

All Star Bowling Lane

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

On February 6 about 200 students from the predominantly black South Carolina State College had gathered at the nearby All Star Bowling lane to protest its segregation of black patrons. There were no incidents.

On February 7 many of the students returned to resume the protest but this time police arrested fifteen of them.

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

February 8, 1968

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

A third night of protests began and because of the previous night’s arrests, there was increased tension.

This night, the students gathered on the South Carolina State University campus instead of at the bowling alley . They built a bonfire which a law enforcement officer attempted to put out.  In the process he was injured by a piece of a banister thrown from the crowd. A highway patrolman then fired his gun into the air in an attempt to calm the crowd.  Upon hearing the shot, other officers, thinking they were being fired upon, opened fire into the crowd of students.  

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Smith, Hammond, Middleton

1968 Orangeburg Massacre
Henry Smith…………Samuel Hammond……….Delano Middleton

In what became known as the “Orangeburg Massacre,” the troopers shot wounding twenty-eight and killing three black male students: Samuel Hammond, eighteen, a freshman from Florida; Henry Smith, eighteen, a sophomore from Marion, South Carolina; and Delano Middleton, seventeen, an Orangeburg high school student. Cleveland Sellers, the local Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s program director was one of those wounded. He was not a student.

Here is a piece from a documentary about the event:

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Sellers blamed

South Carolina Robert Governor McNair blamed “black power advocates” such as Sellers for the violence and insisted officers had fired in self-defense while under attack from campus snipers. Witness accounts from reporters, firemen, and students contradicted this story; they reported that officers had fired on the crowd without warning. No evidence was ever presented that the protesters were armed.

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Officers charged

Cleveland Sellers 1968 Orangeburg Massacre

The State charged nine of the officers in the shootings. A jury found none guilty of any wrongdoing.

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Cleveland Sellers

Cleveland Sellers [born November 8, 1944] in Denmark, South Carolina.  became interested in civil right with the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. In 1960 at 15, he organized his first sit-in protest at a Denmark, South Carolina lunch counter, just two weeks after the Woolworth’s sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina.

While a sophomore at Howard University he joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Sellers graduated from Howard in 1967 and returned to South Carolina.

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Scapegoat

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre
Gov McNair

Thus it was Sellers that Governor McNair used as the example of outside agitator, an easy target because of Sellers SNCC association.

A jury found him guilty. He served seven months in prison after a conviction for inciting to riot despite no evidence.

While imprisoned, he wrote his autobiography, The River of No Return, chronicling his involvement with the civil rights movement.

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Pardon

He received a full pardon 25 years after his conviction, but he chose not to have his record expunged, keeping it as a “badge of honor.”

Cleveland Sellers 1968 Orangeburg Massacre

On April 22, 2008, Voorhees College named Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers Jr., as its president. Today he is its president emeritus and continues to be active in civil rights. (Vorhees College article)

Cleveland Sellers Orangeburg Massacre

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

Happy anniversary

Published September 5, 1957

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

Paterson, NJ

As a New Jersey guy born and bred, it’s important to me that Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac) began his first road trip from Paterson. It was there that Paradise had “…por[ed] over maps of the United States…for months, even reading books about the pioneers and savoring names like Platte and Cimarron and so on, and on the road-map was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles.

All but one of my father’s seven siblings left their NJ hometown and all but five moved out of state: Arizona, New Mexico. Oklahoma. A traveling saleman uncle found homes all over the Midwest. The US Navy stationed a nurse aunt all over the world.

When I was four my family traveled from NJ to visit those distant relatives. I grew up thinking I was a traveler. Later I was a Boy Scout who thought he was a camper. Later I thought I was cool because I had a summer job in NYC.

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

Ripe for the “…Road”

By the time I was in college I was ripe for Kerouac. I don’t think I’d heard of him, but likely saw his name referenced in some Rolling Stone magazine articles.

Like thousands of other Boomers, we found an older brother in Kerouac. A guy whose traveling stories awoke us to the soundtrack of the American history we’d nodded through in school.

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

Sex, drugs, and more jazz than rock and roll!

Some find On the Road enervating. An example of a wasted life. A life without purpose or goal.

Myth: Kerouac wrote the story on toilet paper. No. He created a continuous scroll from sheets of tracing paper sheets that he cut to size and taped together.

Like many things written, Kerouac had written dozens of notes during his travels in the late 1940s. Those notes eventually coalesced into the novel when in one three-week spurt Kerouac put the novel together as if writing a letter.

In response to a student’s letter, Kerouac wrote in 1961, “Dean and I were embarked on a journey through post-Whitman America to FIND that America and to FIND the inherent goodness in American man. It was really a story about 2 Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him.”

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

Jack Kerouac On the Road

Jack Kerouac On the Road

Most critics praised the book, particularly Gilbert Millstein of the New York Times who wrote, “its publication is a historic occasion in so far as the exposure of an authentic work of art is of any great moment in an age in which the attention is fragmented and the sensibilities are blunted by the superlatives of fashion

Jack Kerouac On the Road

In the same paper, David Dempsey dismissed the novel as an “affectionate lark…[that depended]upon the bizarre and the offbeat for its creative stimulus

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

Counterculture

Whatever the view, the story inspired a new generation to seek adventure on the road. Hitchhiking sometimes. Just hiking other times. Woodstock Venture’s idea of having a festival in the country, in an open space, where one could be free and roam around has some roots in Kerouac’s book.

The book was, even if unconsciously, part of the reason I went there. It was certainly part of the reason my wife, six children, and I took a cross-country trip to visit those many relatives. We called it the “Shoots Not Roots” tour. It even had it’s own t-shirt.

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise
back of the tour t-shirt
Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise

The end…

So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.

Jack Kerouac Road Sal Paradise