Exerpt from Jodey Bateman's novel:



                     It was June 22, 1967. I was the Regional Traveler for the Student Freedom Organization –
           we just called it the Organization, mostly. I was paid $10 a week from the National Office,
           sometimes $20, a lot of weeks nothing, when the National Office couldn’t pay it’s bills.  
           I hitched back a thousand miles from our national convention. I didn’t even hitch with a sleeping
           bag in those days. All I had was an extra shirt tied around my waist by the sleeves and an armload
           of newspapers I had picked up at the convention, plus my trusty notebooks which included my
           diary and whatever information I thought was important to jot down for the Organization – though
           there are some things I couldn’t forget if I wanted to.  
                     I had to walk back into town about three miles from the interstate to get to Clu Proctor’s
           house. She was the head of the Independent Committee to End the War. I stayed in a room on her
           second floor. The Committee meeting was supposed to be at six that evening, but as I stumbled off
           the road into Clu’s living room at four thirty in the afternoon, some people were already there.

                                         CHAPTER ONE

                     Clue had just come in from the kitchen. She had light brown hair that flowed down her back
           and she was wearing the  embroidered crimson peasant skirt she had bought in Romania. She was
           carrying a bowl of strawberry ice cream and she bent over a girl named Hope Vann, wearing jeans
           and a boy’s shirt, who was sitting on the floor, and put a big spoonful of ice cream into Hope’s
                     When Clu heard the screen door slam behind me, she turned around and cried out, "Dale!
           Moy mannsbild! My hunk of man!"...in the mixture of Russian and German she sometimes used
           with me. She came charging towards me with her arms outstretched, holding another heaping
           spoonful of ice cream, headed for my mouth.  
                     "Clu, I don’t like strawberry ice cream!" I protested.  
                     "Dale, comes the revolution, everybody will have strawberry ice cream!" Clu said – the old
           left-wing joke. "And you will like it!"  
                     I opened my mouth and ate a small bite of the big spoonful as she smiled.  
                     Clu was a member of the Vanguard, which was one of several Vanguards hoping to lead us
           at that time. Her Vanguard and its rivals thought that groups like the Organization weren’t
           organized enough – too undisciplined, too uncertain of what we really believed. And they were
           going to provide us with efficiency and a clear set of principles which we lacked. Unfortunately
           there were several Vanguards and they fought each other for the right to lead us. Meanwhile most
           of us in the Organization and the larger movement it was a part of, went our own way.  
                     After I gulped down the ice cream, I sat down on the floor next to Hope. She was the
           youngest person in the room – she would be eighteen in a couple more months. I was
           twenty-three, much too old for her. I was also still shy – scared to death of romance. But we were
           good friends and liked to talk things over with each other. She had what our friend Evie called
           April-colored hair – long and golden orange. She had large pale-blue eyes, but she had once cut
           her upper lip when she fell onto gravel and it healed back with one half bigger and wider than the
           other. I thought her face made her look like she had something wise and deep to say. She was
           short, skinny, and pale except for her pink cheeks. I was tall and skinny in worn-out jeans and old
           cowboy boots.  
                     In a second we were holding hands and grinning at each other. "Hey Hope," I said, "when
           the meeting’s over I’ll tell you something this guy at the convention told me about Leon Trotsky."  
                     I was talking under my breath because Clu was already trying to start a discussion, because
           so many people had showed up before the Committee to End the War meeting. Just then,
           somebody knocked on the screen door.  
                     I looked up and saw three young men on the porch. Clu went to let them in with a majestic
           sweep of her peasant skirt. As the men entered the door the first thing I noticed was how short
           their hair was. I don’t have mine down my back, or even as long as the Beatles—neither did most
           guys active in the Organization, but it was growing higher and thicker off the back of my neck, and
           the hair on the sides was creeping over the tops of my ears, and my forelock kept falling into my
           eyes. These guys—their forelocks were no longer than the width of three fingers, and the sides and
           backs of their heads were sheared almost down to the scalp.  
           They were all three in cheap polished cotton slacks – chinos is the word for them now, I think.
           Two of them had on madras shirts, but the one in the middle had a tent-like old greenish T-shirt,
           stretched way out of shape. His skin was burnt dark red-brown and the forelock of his hair was
           faded nearly  white by the sun. I had been tanned with sun-faded hair the same way when I first
           came back from working in the civil rights movement in the Deep South. He had an angry
           puckered-up pink scar that twisted from right below his neck across his collar bone and down into
           the shadows of his T-shirt. On his T-shirt, stenciled in red letters was: G’O DEN MUON NAM!  
                     He was the first one to speak.  
                     "My name is Will Orry," he said, "and this is Pete Yoder". He pointed to the short man on
           his left. A man with a face that looked childlike except for the crooked teeth that showed when he
           smiled, shyly, looking at Clu with wide blue eyes. She was as tall as he was.  
                     "I’m Stan Bennet," the man on Will’s right said. He had red hair and was taller than Will. He
           had a carefully clipped mustache and wide heavy shoulders.  
                     "We’re from Fort Clay - G.I.’s," Will went on. "Next week I’m going to be court martialed
           for giving out anti-war literature."  
           I looked up quickly. A month before, I had read a letter from Will to the editor in the
           GUARDIAN, the newspaper of the whole left-wing family. I had been planning to hitch the 70
           miles to Pronghorn, the big town outside Fort Clay, to see if any of my friends there could put me
           in touch with the anti-war G.I.’s. Wow! they were dropped right on me, I thought.  
                     I went across the living room in three or four steps and I was standing by Clu as she was
           shaking hands with the soldiers. When I shook hands with Will, I noticed the sharp contrast
           between his sun-darkened face and the intense green eyes with yellow flecks. His eyes looked like
           they had stared a long time at something unbearable and learned to bear it.  
                     "Move back, Dale. Give them some space to sit down," Clu said, pushing my shoulder with
           her fingertips.  
                     They sat on the floor facing Hope. I was standing with the last few stragglers into the
           meeting when Clu said, "Will, get up and tell your story now."  
                     Will stood up and pointed to the words on the front of his T-shirt. "Those words mean
           BLACK HILL FOREVER!" he said. That’s where I was in Nam with my blood brothers. When I
           went over I didn’t have any reason not to believe what the TV and newspapers said about the
           war. But by the time I had been there seven months, me and my buddies, we saw through the lie.
           All that was going on was people on both sides being destroyed while we paid the Michelin Tire
           Company more money for damaging one of their rubber trees than we did to a family that had a
           mother or child killed. Once I went to Saigon on leave and saw the Bank of America was putting
           up a new office building and I realized in some way that’s what the war is about - making those
           people rich. So our little bunch at Black Hill - we tried to stop the war."  
                     Hope looked up with surprise and curiosity, "How could you all stop the war?" she asked.  
                     "We just wanted to stop it at least where we were," Will answered. "I may tell another time
           just what we did. But we couldn’t even make peace there. Before we were all split up - we had a
           big birthday party for one of the brothers and we said if we got back to the real world, we were
           gonna tell the story of what’s happening there. That’s what everyone around us - Vietnamese
           people, American people, said to do- tell the story. Then I got wounded and shipped to Fort Clay
           and met up with these guys. They’ve never been to Nam.  
                     "So we wrote a letter to the GUARDIAN asking for people to send us anti-war stuff:
           leaflets, newspapers, posters, whatever...."  
           I interrupted..."I read the letter! I wanted to go to Pronghorn and bring you all literature but I never
           got around to it." The words rushed out of my mouth.  
                     Will held his hand up like, "Stop. Never mind", and continued. "People did send us stuff.
           We put up the posters on our barracks walls. The MP’s tore them down, but we kept putting
           more back. Finally I got called in by Colonel White, the battalion commander. He asked me who
           was putting up the posters. I wouldn’t answer. Next day Sergeant Caldwell got ahold of me and
           told me the colonel wanted the literature I had in my footlocker.  
                     "Hell, Sergeant Caldwell already had a key to my locker! He had already moved my locker
           into the orderly room! I told him I wanted time to think about it, and I went to a friend of mine and
           he gave me the lock from his locker. Late at night I went in the orderly room and put the new lock
           on, like sneaky."  
                     There was some laughter in the room.  
           "So any way," Will went on, "next day  I was ordered to appear in front of Lieutenant Henry
           Hogue. Big Dude! We called him the Hog. The Hog ordered me to open my locker. I said that
           under Army Regulations 389-135 I had the right to keep any literature I wanted, so his order was
           illegal. Then the Hog pointed to the lieutenant bar on his shoulder and said, "That makes it legal!"  
                     "I said something like, ‘Fuck if it does!’ Beg your pardon," Will added quickly, looking
           around the room, but people were laughing. "Then he told me if I refused again, I’d be court
           martialed. I refused. The Hog called in Sergeant Caldwell and we went to the orderly room.
           Caldwell had an axe. He ordered Stan to stand guard at the door."  
                     The big G.I. next to Will spoke up, "Caldwell must not have been told that I was in on the
           literature. I winked at Will, and stood around outside the orderly room."  
                     "Then the Hog ordered Sergeant Caldwell to break into my locker. Caldwell brought the
           axe down on top of the locker - it’s wood. There was a loud crash. The Hog took the literature
           and went through it for two hours. He took it all away. Shit, he even took my high school
           newspaper! All that was left was letters from my family. The Hog took them and threw them on the
           floor and ordered me to pick them up.  
                     "So that’s why I’m here. I called the GUARDIAN and asked for them to help me find a
           civilian lawyer, anti-war. They found one and I want you people here to come to the court martial
           to show the G.I.’s there that we’ve got support on the outside."  
                     "I can do more than that," Clu said. "I can get some very active anti-war people to come
           down from New York. Just give me a date."  
           All of us in the room were looking wide eyed at Will and his two friends and we all wanted to
           come through for them.  
                     "Five days from now," Will said, "nine a.m. next Thursday."  
           A few people clapped when Clu said she was bringing in help from New York. I didn’t. I knew
           she meant she was bringing in people from her Vanguard and I was a little worried about what the
           soldiers would think of them. Still, I knew the Vanguard had hard working people and the cause
           was so important, I felt sure I could overlook my differences with them.  
           So we all left the meeting and walked a couple of blocks to the Corner Grill, right across from the
           State University campus. We usually adjourned every Committee meeting to the Corner Grill. We
           called it the ‘Victory Party’. This time with the three anti-war G.I.’s it really did seem like a victory
           party. It was one of those perfect evenings that occurred often in the summer of ’67 - dark blue
           sky with pale pink light still in the west, a gentle breeze rustling the thick green foliage of the elm
           and cottonwood trees in front of the old rooming houses, the heat of the day giving way to a
           nighttime that would still be comfortable in shirt sleeves. You could hear the mockingbirds loud and
           clear from blocks away making their last call before the day was over. Hope and I had twined our
           fingers together and we were walking along with our joined hands swinging loosely.  
                     We put together some tables and one of the guys ordered two pitchers of beer. A tall
           heavy-set middle-aged waitress came with the pitchers and said to Hope, "Honey, Vern got after
           us last week about you." Vern was the owner of the Corner Grill. "Vern says you’re underage and
           you can’t sit at a table where everyone’s drinking beer."  
                     Hope and I moved into a booth. "It’s my mother," Hope said. "She probably talked to
           Vern. She doesn’t like me being around the committee." I was pretty sure Hope was right.
           Teenagers drinking beer were not unusual sights at the Corner Grill.  
                     "OK, sure," I said. "Anyway I was going to tell you what this guy at the convention told me
           – how when Trotsley was living in New York, he..."  
                     "Look, Dale, I think I ought to go," Hope said. "It’s getting late and my mother..."  
                     "What about the court martial?" I asked.  
                     "I’ll get around to Clu’s Thursday morning. Even if I don’t go I’ll be there to see you off.
           You just be sure and go for me." She got out of the booth and smiled and blew me a kiss across
           the palm of her hand and hurried on out of the Corner Grill.

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