Tuesday, August 21, 2018
An Encore Salute To The Untold Stories Of The Working- Class 1960s Radicals-“The Sam And Ralph Stories”- An American Peace-The Sam Eaton-Ralph Morris Story
An Encore Salute To The Untold Stories Of The Working- Class 1960s Radicals-“The Sam And Ralph Stories”- An American Peace-The Sam Eaton-Ralph Morris Story
Greg Green, site manager Introduction
[In early 2018, shortly after I had taken over the reins as site manager at this on-line publication I “saw the light” and bowed to the wisdom of a number of older writers who balked at my idea of reaching younger and newer audiences by having them review films like Marvel/DC Comics productions, write about various video games and books that would not offend a flea unlike the flaming red books previously reviewed here centered on the now aging 1960s baby-boomer demographic which had sustained the publication through good times and bad as a hard copy and then on-line proposition. One senior writer, who shall remain nameless in case some stray millennial sees this introduction and spreads some viral social media hate campaign his way, made the very telling observation that the younger set, his term, don’t read film reviews or hard copy books as a rule and those hardy Generation of ’68 partisans who still support this publication in the transition from the old Allan Jackson leadership to mine don’t give a fuck about comics, video games or graphic novels. I stand humbled.
Not only stand humbled though but in a valiant and seemingly successful attempt to stabilize this operation decided to give an encore presentation to some of the most important series produced and edited by Allan Jackson-without Allan. That too proved to be an error when I had Frank Jackman introduce the first few sections of The Roots Is The Toots Rock And Roll series which Allan had sweated his ass over to bring out over a couple of years. Writers, and not only senior writers who had supported Allan in the vote of no confidence fight challenging his leadership after he went overboard attempting to cash in on the hoopla over the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in 1967 but also my younger writer partisans, balked at this subterfuge. One called it a travesty.
Backing off after finding Allan, not an easy task since he had fled to the safer waters of the West looking for work and had been rumored to be any place from Salt Lake City to some mountainous last hippie commune in the hills of Northern California doing anything from pimping as press agent for Mitt Romney’s U.S. Senate campaign in Utah to running a whorehouse with Madame La Rue in Frisco or shacking up with drag queen Miss Judy Garland in that same city, we brought Allan back to do the introductions to the remaining sections. That we, me and the Editorial Board established after Allan’s demise and as a guard against one-person rule, had compromised on that gesture with the last of the series being the termination of Allan’s association with the publication except possibly as an occasional writer, a stringer really, when some nostalgia event needed some attention.
That was the way things went and not too badly when we finished up the series in the early summer of 2018. But that is not the end of the Allan story. While looking through the on-line archives I noticed that Allan had also seriously edited another 1960s-related series, the Sam and Ralph Stories, a series centered on the trials and tribulations of two working-class guys who had been radicalized in different ways by the 1960s upheavals and have never lost the faith in what Allan called from Tennyson “seeking a newer world” would resurface in this wicked old world, somebody’s term.
I once again attempted to make the mistake of having someone else, in this case Josh Breslin, introduce the series (after my introduction here) but the Editorial Board bucked me even before I could set that idea in motion. I claimed, somewhat disingenuously, that Allan was probably out in Utah looking for some residual work for Mitt Romney now that he is the Republican candidate for U.S. Senator for Utah or running back to Madame La Rue, an old flame, and that high- end whorehouse or hanging with Miss Judy Garland at her successful drag queen tourist attraction cabaret. No such luck since he was up in Maine working on a book about his life as an editor. To be published in hard cop y by well-known Wheeler Press whenever he gets the proofs done. So hereafter former editor and site manager Allan will handle the introductions on this encore presentation of this excellent series. Greg Green]
Allan Jackson, editor The Sam And Ralph Stories -New General Introduction
[As my replacement Greg Green, whom I brought in from American Film Gazette originally to handle the day to day site operations while I concentrated on editing but who led a successful revolt against my regime based on the wishes of the younger writers to as they said at the time not be slaves to the 1960s upheavals a time which they only knew second or third hand, mentioned in his general introduction above some of the series I initiated were/are worth an encore presentation. The Sam and Ralph Stories are one such series and as we go along I will try to describe why this series was an important testament to an unheralded segment of the mass movements of the 1960s-the radicalized white working- class kids who certainly made up a significant component of the Vietnam War soldiery, some of who were like Sam and Ralph forever after suspicious of every governmental war cry. Who also somewhat belatedly got caught up in the second wave rock and roll revival which emerged under the general slogan of “drug, sex and rock and roll” which represented a vast sea change for attitudes about a lot of things that under ordinary circumstances would have had them merely replicating their parents’ ethos and fate.
As I said I will describe that transformation in future segment introductions but today since it is my “dime” I want to once again clear up some misapprehensions about what has gone on over the past year or so in the interest of informing the readership, as Greg Green has staked his standing at this publication on doing to insure his own survival, about what goes on behind the scenes in the publishing business. This would not have been necessary after the big flap when Greg tried an “end around” something that I and every other editor worth her or his salt have tried as well and have somebody else, here commentator and my old high school friend Frank Jackman, act as general introducer of The Roots Is The Toots rock and roll coming of age series that I believe is one of the best productions I have ever worked on. That got writers, young and old, with me or against me, led by Sam Lowell, another of my old high school friends, who had been the decisive vote against me in the “vote of no confidence” which ended my regime up in arms. I have forgiven Sam, and others, as I knew full well from the time I entered into the business that at best it was a cutthroat survival of the fittest racket. (Not only have I forgiven Sam but I am in his corner in his recent struggles with young up and coming by-line writer Sarah Lemoyne who is being guided through the shoals by another old high school friend Seth Garth as she attempts to make her way up the film critic food chain, probably the most vicious segment of the business where a thousand knives wait the unwary from so-called fellow reviewers.) The upshot of that controversy was that Greg had to back off and let me finish the introducing the series for which after all I had been present at the creation.
That would have been the end of it but once we successfully, and thankfully by Greg who gave me not only kudos around the water cooler but a nice honorarium, concluded that series encore in the early summer of 2018 he found another way to cut me. Going through the archives of this publication to try to stabilize the readership after doing some “holy goof” stuff like having serious writers, young and old, reviewing films based on comic book characters, the latest in video games and graphic novels with no success forgetting the cardinal rule of the post-Internet world that the younger set get their information from other sources than old line academic- driven websites and don’t read beyond their techie tools Greg found another series, the one highlighted here, that intrigued him for an encore presentation. This is where Greg proved only too human since he once again attempted an “end around,” by having Josh Breslin, another old friend whom I meet in the Summer of Love, 1967 out in San Francisco, introduce the series citing my unavailability as the reason although paying attention to the fact that I had sweated bullets over that one as well.
This time though the Editorial Board, now headed by Sam Lowell, intervened even before Greg could approach Josh for the assignment. This Ed Board was instituted after my departure to insure the operation would not descend, Sam’s word actually, into the so-called autocratic one-person rule that had been the norm under my regime. They told Greg to call me back in on the encore project or to forget it. I would not have put up with such a suggestion from an overriding Ed Board and would have willingly bowed out if anybody had tried to undermine me that way. I can understand fully Greg’s desire to cast me to the deeps, have done with me as in my time I did as well knowing others in the food chain would see this as their opportunity to move up.
That part I had no problem with, told Greg exactly that. What bothered me was the continuing “urban legend” about what I had done, where I had gone after that decisive vote of no confidence. Greg continued, may continue today, to fuel the rumors that not only after my initial demise but after finishing up the Roots Is The Toots series I had gone back out West to Utah of all places to work for the Mormons, or to Frisco to hook up with my old flame Madame La Rue running that high-end whorehouse I had staked her to in the old days, or was running around with another old high school pal, Miss Judy Garland, aka Timmy Riley the high priestess of the drag queen set out in that same town whom I also helped stake to his high-end tourist attraction cabaret. All nonsense, I was working on my memoir up in Maine, up in Olde Saco where Josh grew up and which I fell in love with when he first showed me his hometown and its ocean views.
If the reader can bear the weight of this final reckoning let me clear the air on all three subjects on the so-called Western trail. Before that though I admit, admit freely that despite all the money I have made, editing, doing a million pieces under various aliases and monikers, ballooning up 3000 word articles to 10,000 and having the publishers fully pay despite the need for editing for the latter in the days before the Guild when you worked by the word, accepting articles which I clearly knew were just ripped of the AP feed and sending them along as gold I had no dough, none when I was dethroned. Reason, perfectly sane reason, although maybe not, three ex-wives with alimony blues and a parcel of kids, a brood if you like who were in thrall to the college tuition vultures.
Tapped out in the East for a lot of reasons I did head west the first time looking for work. Landed in Utah when I ran out of dough, and did, DID, try to get a job on the Salt Lake Star and would have had it too except two things somebody there, some friend of Mitt Romney, heard I was looking for work and nixed the whole thing once they read the articles I had written mocking Mitt and his white underwear world as Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential candidate. So it was with bitter irony when I heard that Greg had retailed the preposterous idea that I would now seek a job shilling for dear white undie Mitt as press agent in his run for the open Utah United States Senate seat. Here is where everybody should gasp though at the whole Utah fantasy-these Mormons stick close together, probably ingrained in them from Joseph Smith days, and don’t hire goddam atheists and radicals, don’t hire outside the religion if they can help it. You probably had to have slept with one of Joseph Smith’s or Brigham Young’s wives to even get one foot in the door. Done.
The helping Madame La Rue, real name of no interest or need to mention, running her high-end exclusive whorehouse out in Half Moon Bay at least had some credence since I had staked her to some dough to get started after the downfall of the 1960s sent her back to her real world, the world of a high class hooker who was slumming with “hippies” for a while when it looked like our dreams were going to be deterred in in the ebbtide. We had been hot and heavy lovers, although never married except on some hazed drug-fogged concert night when I think Josh Breslin “married” us and sent us on a “honeymoon” with a fistful of cocaine. Down on dough I hit her up for some which she gave gladly, said it was interest on the “loan: she never repaid and let me stay at her place for a while until I had to move on. Done
The whole drag queen idea tells me that whoever started this damn lie knew nothing about my growing up days and had either seen me in The Totem, Timmy Riley’s aka Miss Judy Garland’s drinking with a few drag queen who worked and drew the wrong conclusions or was out to slander and libel me for some other nefarious reason. See Miss Judy Garland is the very successful drag queen and gay man Timmy Riley from the old neighborhood who fled to Frisco when he could no longer hide his sexual identity and preferences. To our great shock since Timmy had been the out-front gay-basher of our crowd, our working-class corner boy gay-bashing crowd. I had lent, after getting religion rather late on the LGBTQ question, Timmy the money to buy his first drag queen cabaret on Bay Street and Timmy was kind enough to stake me to some money and a roof before I decided I had to head back East. Done.
But enough about me. This is about two other working- class guys, Sam Eaton and Ralph Morris, met along life’s road one from Carver about fifty miles away from where Seth, Sam, Timmy and a bunch of other guys grew up and learned the “normal” working-class ethos-and broke, tentatively at times, from that same straitjacket and from Troy, New York. Funny Troy, Carver, North Adamsville, and Josh’s old mill town Olde Saco all down-in-the-mouth working class towns still produced in exceptional times a clot of guys who got caught up in the turmoil of their times-and lived to tell the tale. I am proud to introduce this encore presentation and will have plenty more to say about Sam and Ralph in future segments.]
Allan Jackson’s Encore Introduction to An American Peace
[It will probably amaze the reader somewhat to see the interconnectedness of the lives of a small clot of writers and political activists who have more or less, these aging days somewhat less, through their lives and this publication (early on in its hard copy version and now the on-line version via the saving graces of the Internet) stuck together for almost fifty years now and still are “fighting the good fight.” First the seemingly implausible connection between Sam Eaton and Ralph Morris detailed below. Then the connection between them and me. Through me to a bunch of guys that I grew up with in North Adamsville like Seth Garth, Si Lannon, Frank Jackman and the late Peter Paul Markin, the latter the father we never knew to borrow from Jack Kerouac, all names familiar to long-time readers. And through that late Markin to Josh Breslin. The common denominator, the thing that glued us, glues us together is either active military service during the Vietnam War, or active opposition to the fucking war (as I have mentioned before the “fucking” the only way I can mentioned the subject of the war even now). More than that though was some kind of permanent opposition to American military designs from then until the war clouds today over Iran, North Korea, China not to mention active wars in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria if you can believe how long they have been going on.
That opposition I believe was solidified, carved in stone if you will, by the anti-war events of May Day, 1971 which all of us were one way or another involved with and in the aftermath of that military defeat of our side the serious study of what the hell makes an effective political opposition to war and viable strategies to bring a little rough social justice to this world. Most of the stories in this series have been written or dictated by either Sam or Ralph but this one is from the pen of Josh Breslin who brings a little third-party light to why they still cling to the visions of their young adulthood. Beyond that I have either already commented on their respective “conversions” or they have in passing so I have nothing better to add to Josh’s take.]
An American Peace-The Sam Eaton-Ralph Morris Story
From The Pen Of Josh Breslin
Back in the early 1970s after they had worked out between themselves, as best they could given their previous distain and/or ignorance of the history of the American left, of the international workers movement in particular which some elements in the anti-Vietnam movement were fitfully beginning to investigate, the rudiments of what had gone wrong with the May Day 1971 actions in Washington, D.C. Sam Eaton and Ralph Morris began some serious study of leftist literature from an earlier time, from back earlier in the century. Those May Day anti-Vietnam War actions which they had originally enthusiastically participated in (especially Ralph since this had been his first big anti-war action in Washington in which he had been in an affinity group with some fellow veterans), ill-conceived as they in the end turned out to be, centered on the proposition that if the American government would not close down the damn blood-sucking war then they, those thousands that participated in the actions, would close down the government. All Sam, Ralph and those thousands of others got for their efforts was a round-up into the bastinado, picked off like ducks in a shooting gallery even before they could get close to the targets like the White House, Pentagon, Capitol, and Department of Justice to name a few they were attempting to shut down.
Sam had been picked off early in the round-up on Pennsylvania Avenue as his group, mainly college students from Boston University and George Washington University and an array of young radicals from the streets of Cambridge and New York (his “affinity group” for the action) had been on their way to “capture” the White House (the cops and soldiers had blocked the way about five blocks before and were rounding up anybody who looked like they might be a protestor, or wanted to be under the old military principle of “shoot first and let God separate out the guilty from the innocent”). Sam, no novice at civil disobedience or street actions, had been appalled at the ease with which they were rounded even though at the last affinity group meeting he had voiced a mild criticism about the plan to “capture” the citadel of American imperialism without some kind of massed armed army but his reasoning was dismissed out of hand by some of the more itchy street kids.
Ralph and his affinity group of Vietnam veterans and their supporters were rounded-up on Massachusetts Avenue heading toward the Pentagon (they had had no plans to capture that five-sided building, at least they were unlike Sam’s group not that naïve, just surround the place like had occurred in an anti-war action in 1967 which has been detailed in Norman Mailer’s prize-winning book Armies Of The Night). Ralph new to the anti-war action scene in Washington thought nothing of the merits of lack of merits of the planned action and “occupation” since it had been made clear at the last affinity meeting the night before that the march to the lion’s den of American military might by returned mentally and physically wounded and angry soldiers had its own symbolic value. Still the cops and National Guard soldiers rounded them up just like all the other hippies, street radicals, Quakers, shakers and midnight fakirs. (Ralph had sneered at the National Guard soldiers as “weekend warriors” who desperately clung to their status of having enough pull to avoid being drafted or enlisting in the real Army)
For a time RFK (Robert F. Kennedy) Stadium, the home of the Washington Redskins football team, was the main holding area for those arrested and detained before the numbers detained overwhelmed the facility. The irony of being held in a stadium named after the martyred late President’s younger brother and lightening rod for almost all anti-war and “newer world” political dissent before he was assassinated in the bloody summer of 1968 and in a place where football, a sport associated in many radical minds with all that was wrong with the American system, was lost on Sam and Ralph at the time and it was only later, many decades later, as they were sitting in a bar in Boston across from the JFK Federal Building on one of their periodic reunions when Ralph was in town that Sam had picked up that connection. The cops and soldiers probably never saw the irony, never.
Sam, from Carver in Massachusetts, who had been a late convert to the anti-war movement in 1969 after his closest high school friend, the guy who he hung around the corner at Jimmy Jack’s Diner on Main Street with, Jeff Mullin, had been blown away in some jungle town in the Central Highlands (a town that he to this day could not properly spell or say) was like many late converts to a cause a “true believer,” had taken part in many acts of civil disobedience at draft boards, including the one in hometown Carver, federal buildings, military recruitment stations and military bases. From an indifference, no that’s not right, from a mildly patriotic average young American citizen that you could find by the score hanging around Mom and Pop variety stores, pizza parlors, diners, and bowling alleys in the early 1960s, he had become a long-haired bearded “hippie anti-warrior.” Not too long in either hair or beard though by the standards of “youth nation” of the day since he was running a small print shop in Carver in order to support his mother and four younger sisters after his father had passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack in 1965 which exempted him from military service. (At first he was self-conscious about sitting at draft boards and recruiting stations as a result of that exemption until one austere Quaker lady told him every body counted in the struggle against war and to not let that other stuff bother him.) Not too short either since those “squares” were either poor bastards who got tagged by the military and had to wear their hair short an appearance which stuck out in towns like Cambridge, Ann Arbor, Berkeley and L.A. when the anti-war movement started embracing the increasingly frustrated and anti-war soldiers that they were beginning to run across or, worse, cops before they got “hip” to the idea that guys wearing short hair, no beard, looked like they had just taken a bath, and wore plaid short-sleeved shirts and chinos might as well have a bulls-eye target on their backs surveilling the counter-cultural crowd.
Ralph, from Troy, New York, had been working in his father’s highly specialized skilled electrical shop which had major orders from General Electric the big employer in the area when he got his draft notice and had decided to enlist in the Army in order to avoid being an 11B, an infantryman, a grunt, “cannon fodder,” although he would not have known to call it that at the time, that would come later. He had expected to go into something which he knew something about in the electrical field at least that is what the recruiting sergeant in Albany had “promised” him. (He would not forget that “promise” lesson for later, much later, in the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2002 he would stand at recruiting stations trying to tell young prospects not to believe the lies the well-paid and well-versed recruiters told them.) But in the year 1967 (and 1968 too since he had extended his tour six months to get out of the service a little early) what the military needed in Vietnam whatever else they might have needed was “cannon fodder,” guys to go out into the bushes and kill commies. Simple as that. And that was what Ralph Morris, a mildly patriotic average young American citizen, no that is not right, a very patriotic average young American citizen that you could also find by the score hanging around Mom and Pop variety stores, pizza parlors, diners, and bowling alleys in the early 1960s, did. But see he got “religion” up there in Pleiku, up there in the Central Highlands, up there in the stinking sweating bush and so when he had been discharged from the Army in late 1969 he was in a rage against the machine. Sure he had gone almost immediately back to the grind of his father’s electrical shop but he was out of place just then, out of sorts, needed to find an outlet for his anger at what he had done, what had happened to buddies very close to him, what buddies had done to the peasants who had done nothing to them but be “in the wrong place at the wrong time in their own fucking country” (Ralph’s term), and how the military had made them animals, nothing less. (Ralph after his father retired would take over the electric shop business on his own in 1991 and would thereafter give it to his son, Ralph III to take over after he retired in 2011.)
One day in 1970, maybe 1971 he had gone to Albany on a job for his father and while on State Street he had seen a group of guys in deliberately mismatched military garb marching in the streets without talking, silent which was amazing in itself from what he had previously seen of such anti-war marches and just carrying a big sign-Vietnam Veterans Against The War (VVAW) and nobody stopped them, no cops, nobody, nobody yelled “commie” either or a lot of other macho stuff that he and his hang out guys used to do in Troy when some peaceniks held peace vigils in the square around 1965 or so. The civilian on-lookers held their tongues that day although Ralph knew that the whole area, including most of his family, still retained a lot of residual pro-war feeling just because America was fighting somewhere for something. He parked his father’s truck and walked over to the march just to watch at first. Some guy in a tattered Marine mismatched uniform wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers in the march called out to the crowd for anybody who had served in Vietnam, served in the military to join them, to help send a message to the brass, to their ex-bosses, that the madness must stop, shouting out their military affiliation as they did so. Ralph almost automatically blurred out-“First Air Cav” and walked right into the street. There were other First Air Cav guys there that day so he was among kindred. So yeah, Ralph after that “baptism” did a lot of actions with VVAW and with “civilian” collectives who were planning more dramatic actions in the Albany area. Ralph always would say later that if it hadn’t been for getting “religion” on the war issue and doing all those political actions then he would have gone crazy, would have wound up like a lot of guys he would see later at the VA, guys he would see out in the cardboard box for a home streets, and would not until this day have supported in any way he could, although lately not physically since his knee replacement, those who had the audacity to still march for the “good old cause” against the war-mongers when the reared their bastardly heads.
This is the back story of a relationship that has lasted until this day, an unlikely relationship in normal times and places but in that cauldron of the early 1970s when the young, even the not so very young, were trying to make heads or tails out of what was happening in a world they did not create, and were not asked about there were plenty of such stories, although most did not outlast that search for the newer world when the high tide of the 1960s ebbed in the mid-1970s. Sam and Ralph’s story had started when Ralph had noticed while milling around the football field waiting for something to happen, waiting to be released, that Sam had a VVAW button on his shirt and since he did not recognize Sam from any previous VVAW actions had asked if he was a member of the organization and where. Sam told him the story of his friend Jeff Mullin and of his change of heart about the war, and about doing something about ending the damn thing.
That strange introduction while in “jail” got them talking, talking well into the first night of their captivity when they found they had many things in common coming from deeply entrenched working-class cultures. (You already know about Troy and the GE effect. Carver is something like the cranberry bog capital of the world even today although the large producers dominate the market unlike when Sam was a kid and the small Finnish growers dominated the market and town life. The town moreover has turned into something of a bedroom community for the high-tech industry that dots U.S. 495.)
After a couple of days in the bastinado waiting for the in- no-hurry cops to do some paperwork Sam and Ralph hungry, thirsty, needing a shower after suffering through the Washington humidity heard that people were finding ways of getting out to the streets through some unguarded side exits. They decided to surreptitiously attempt an “escape” which proved successful and they immediately headed through a bunch of the letter, number and state streets on the Washington city grid toward Connecticut Avenue heading toward Silver Springs trying to hitchhike out of the city. A couple of days later having obtained a ride through from Trenton, New Jersey to Providence, Rhode Island they headed to Sam’s mother’s place in Carver. Ralph stayed there a few days before heading back home to Troy. They had agreed that they would keep in contact and try to figure out what the hell went wrong in Washington that week. After making some connections through some radicals Sam knew in Cambridge went to live in a commune over by Inman Square (cheap rent, cheap living and doable since the last of Sam’s sisters had finished high school and he had another friend from the Jimmy Jack’s Diner corner boys days, Johnnie Callahan, running the print shop, a print shop business that he would return to seriously once the high tide of the 1960s ebbed, after he started a family, and which he sold to a third party after he retired in 2012).
Sam had asked Ralph to come stay with him for the summer and try to figure out that gnarly problem of the way forward to a more effective way to stop the goddam wars. Ralph did, although his father was furious since he needed his help on a big GE contract for the Defense Department but Ralph was having none of that. (Ralph and his father eventually reconciled but that was a long process over several years and much argument which need not detain us here except to say that the damn war blew many household apart, for good or evil.)
So in the summer of 1971 Sam and Ralph began to read that old time literature, although Ralph admitted he was not much of a reader and some of the stuff was way over his head, Sam’s too. Mostly they read socialist and communist literature, a little of the old IWW (Wobblie) stuff since they both were enthrall to the exploits of the likes of Big Bill Haywood out West during the heyday of the miners’ union struggles which seemed to dominate the politics of that earlier time. They had even for a time joined a loose study group sponsored by one of the myriad “red collectives” that had sprung up like weeds in the Cambridge area. Both thought it ironic at the time, and others who were questioning the direction the “movement” was heading in, stated the same thing when they were in the study groups, that before that time in the heyday of their anti-war activity everybody dismissed the old white guys (a term not in common use then like now) like Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and their progeny as irrelevant. Now everybody was glued to the books.
It was from that time that Sam and Ralph got a better appreciation of a lot of the events, places, and personalities from the old time radicals. Events like the start of May Day in 1886 as an international working class holiday which they had been clueless about despite the May Day actions, the Russian Revolutions, the Paris Commune, the Chinese Revolutions, August 1914 as a watershed against war, the Communist International, those aforementioned radicals Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, adding in Mao, Che, Fidel, Ho whose names were on everybody’s tongue (and on posters in every bedroom) even if the reason for that was not known. Most surprising of all were the American radicals like Haywood, Browder, Cannon, Foster, and others who nobody then, or almost nobody cared to know about at all.
As they learned more information about past American movements Sam, the more interested writer of such pieces began to write appreciations of past events, places and personalities. His first effort was to write something about the commemoration of the 3 Ls (Lenin, Luxemburg, and Liebknecht) started by the Communist International back in the 1920s in January 1972, the first two names that he knew from a history class in night school junior college and the third not at all. After that he wrote various pieces like the one below about the early days of the Communist International which intrigued him no end although he could not picture such an organization working in 1972 not with the political climate and not with the question of what Leon Trotsky, one of the founders, called the degeneration of that organization (leftists have seemingly always posed their positions as questions; the women question, the black question, the party question, the Russian question, the Comintern question, and so on so Sam decided to stick with the old time usage.) Here is what he had to say then which he had recently freshly updated to include comments after reading a then recently published book by Trotsky about the early days of the Communist International. Sam told Ralph after he had read the thing through and had been asked if he was still a “true believer” said a lot of the points piece he would still stand by today:
[The commentary on a book Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution is readily available at the Leon Trotsky Internet Archives and not reproduced here in the encore presentation. AJ]