Hills & Gardens: Recalling Years of Discontent
By Trudy Whitman
For those of us of a certain age, bombarded as we are on a daily basis by reminders of our vulnerability to danger from without (If you see something, say something), it is sometimes difficult to recall the intensity of America’s internal turmoil when we were young. The recent New York Times Magazine cover story on Judith Clark, the imprisoned getaway driver in the 1981 Brink’s heist and shootout that resulted in three deaths, brought it all home for me: National Guard troops paroling my campus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; rioting students; the smell of tear gas; the boycott and cancellation of classes; and the bombing of a campus building that killed a graduate student shortly after my graduation in 1970.
On his campus at Columbia University, Baltic Street’s James S. Kunen took an active role in the youth protest that rocked this country. His experiences during that turbulent time led to his first book, The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary, published when he was only twenty. A literary hit on publication, The Strawberry Statement is still used widely in college classrooms to help students understand how young people began the snowballing rebellion against the politics and policies of the time.
So how did a college revolutionary find himself in middle age discontentedly schlepping up the subway stairs every morning on his way to a job as director of corporate communications for Time Warner?