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[Full family history]
My very brief first attempt at college: the University of Virginia
in Charlotteville, Fall 1962: a short interlude between my summer job
at the CIA after high school and three years in the Army.
In this document:
Judy = My ex-wife, Judy Scott.
You, you guys = Judy's and my children Peter and Amy da Cruz.
Ludwig = Ludwig Carrera, my neighbor and fiend in Arlington.
—Frank da Cruz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Most recent update: 8 August 2020 08:48:22
University of Virginia...
|University of Virginia campus - this part hasn't changed since 1819
I applied to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville with little hope
of getting in — and without applying anywhere else — but both
Ludwig and I were admitted. Like my other Virginia schools it was
segregated. Except for four (4) token Blacks who had private rooms in each
of four dorms. Nobody else had a private room. UVA was beautiful to look
at, designed by Thomas Jefferson whose house looked over it from above.
When I went there it was very much the same as it was when it opened in
1819; now it's all full of ugly modern buildings.
|Charlottesville in 1962
Charlottesville was a typical dusty, poor Black rural Virginia one-street
small town. UVA students hardly ever went there, except to buy liquor.
Since they weren't old enough to do that, there was an old Black guy who
stood outside the liquor store all day, when he saw white boys coming he
made a special kind slow semicircular wave with a Cheshire-cat smile, like a
1930s cartoon character I can't think of right now; they'd give him the
money and he'd buy the booze for them. The bar that students went to, the
Cav, was not in Charlottesville but down the road a ways in the other
direction, maybe a mile's walk. It was a huge cavernous place, like being
in a full-time riot. It had the best hamburgers on earth but the beer, of
course, was 3.2 since everybody was under age, so you have to drink a lot of
The area around Charlotteville was a different story: tweedy country gentry
with gigantic white-fenced horse farms with manicured lawns and mile-long
driveways. At some point I suppose they decided that Black Charlottesville
was a blot that had to be erased and in the late 1960s it was bulldozed.
Now it's an upscale hip and trendy destination, suitable home for the
"Harvard of the South". Up the road there was another town just like it:
Boston, Virginia: all Black and dirt poor. It's just plain gone now, I
can find no trace of it.
|UVA serpentine wall*
At UVA, everybody was supposed to be in a fraternity. Each
fraternity had its own house (mansion, really), complete with slaves.
Seriously, cooks and porters and maids and janitors who descended from the
slaves originally owned by each fraternity. There was a huge party every
night in every fraternity with kegs of beer and live music usually performed
by Black groups from town who made music like the Isley Brothers ("Shout")
or the Countours ("Do You Love Me"); one of the groups called themselves (no
kidding) Ten Screaming Niggers. One fraternity for medical students,
instead of beer they filled a bathtub with pure medical alcohol and frozen
lime juice, it was called Green Goddamns. Quite literally everybody was
drunk all the time. It was too much for even me; this might have been the
beginning of the end of my heavy drinking. I was the only one who didn't
want to be in a fraternity.
|Cuban Missile Crisis 1962
I shared a tiny dorm room with the most obnoxious person who ever lived.
Anyway I really was not ready for college and missed most of my classes. To
add to the dysfunction, the Cuban missile crisis happened while I was there;
nobody went to class, we all sat around listening to the radio; we thought
we were gonna die any minute.
UVA really was no fun. The professors (all but one) were the snotty
aristocratic kind who didn't even try to teach, only to impress us with how
smart and sophisticated they were and what stupid bufoons we were. The
students themselves were obnoxious privileged white boys who only wanted to
party. UVA itself was pretty brutal, its policy was to flunk out 50% of the
freshman class. I dropped out after one semester. I had paid my tuition
and all expenses with the $600 I earned in my summer job. While at UVA I
saw Peter Paul & Mary, and also Andrés Segovia, who gave concerts in the
gym. Also while at UVA, a guy taught me the Travis pick so it wasn't a
total waste. Plus at the last minute when I was about to graduate from GS
at Columbia, they were hassling me about missing credits and I was able to
transfer the ones I had earned at UVA in the few courses I didn't fail (all
my grades there but one were F's or A's). I also had some credits from the
University of Maryland extension in Germany, where I took some night classes
in the Army.
|Wendy Sibbison 1967
The most important thing that happened at UVA is that I met Richard Lamborne
("Head") and his girlfriend Wendy Sibbison, who was still in high school but
would come to see Richie on weekends. It was because of Wendy that I wound
up in New York and at Columbia, and that I met Judy, and therefore that you
guys exist. As I explain in a later chapter
briefly, Wendy broke off with Richie eventually and she and I corresponded
the whole time I was in the Army, and by the time I got out she was at
Barnard and she was pretty much the only one I wanted to see and I went
straight from from Fort Hamilton to her dorm. We were never "together", but
we were close for many years.
A New Generation
In Virginia in 1961-62, I began to sense the stirrings of something new...
the early beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement, the Nuclear Disarmament
movement, and early opposition to the "situation" in Vietnam. It came to me
mainly through music; folk music at first, then popular music: artists like
Peter, Paul, and Mary ("Cruel War" "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", and
later, "The Great Mandella", about a war resister, as well as freedom songs
like "If Had a Hammer"); Bob Dylan ("Blowing in the Wind", "The Times They
Are A'Changin'", "Masters of War", "With God on Our Side",...); Joan Baez
("Birmingham Sunday", "No Nos Moverán", "Freedom", "Kumbaya", "There but for
Fortune", "Where Are You Now My Son", "Saigon Bride", ...); Martha and the
Vandellas ("I Should Be Proud"), The Staples Singers ("Freedom Highway",
"Long Walk to D.C.", "Washington, We're Watching You", many more), Phil Ochs
("What Are You Fighting For", "I Ain't Marching Any More", "Vietnam", many
more), Buffy Sainte-Marie ("Universal Soldier"), Crosby Stills Nash and
Young ("Ohio"),... Odetta, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, George Harrison,
Joni Mitchell, The Kinks, Tom Paxton, Richie Havens, Sam Cooke, Edwin Starr,
Kris Kristofferson, The Byrds, Country Joe and the Fish, Marvin
Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Cliff, Ringo Starr, Cat Stevens, John Lennon,
The Doors, and on and on — many of these artists covering each others'
songs or performing them together at antiwar and civil rights rallies and
demonstrations, sometimes joined by performers from our parents' generation
like Josh White, Barbara Dane, Pete Seeger (who, with Woody Guthry and the
Almanac Singers and the Weavers pioneered protest songs in the 1940s-50s),
Marlene Dietrich ("Sag Mir Wo die Blumen Sind"), and posthumously, Billie
Holiday ("Strange Fruit"). It seemed like my whole generation was rising
against war, racism, poverty, and misery and that as soon as the young took
over, the world would finally be fixed. Anyway I remember being at UVA
during the Cuban Missile crisis, sitting around with Ludwig, Head, and some
others expecting the atomic holocaust to start any minute while listening to
songs like "Cruel War" with a kind of optimism for the future if we could
just get through the next few days. The artists and songs of the early
sixties brought millions of young people into the broad social movements for
peace and justice that lasted into the Seventies.
Cruel War, it's beautiful and touching, moreso in restrospect, with
hundreds of thousands of us about to be drafted and sent to the meatgringer
in Vietnam (sorry if Youtube bombards you with ads, or the link stops
working, but that's life in the XXI Century). Another almost heartbreaking
video is of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez singing "With God on Our Side" at at the
1963 Newport Jazz festival, but at the moment it seems to have disappeared
— it was so hopeful and optimistic, as if it would make a difference.
The two of them, along with Peter Paul and Mary, Odetta, Mahalia Jackson,
and Marion Anderson sang at the March on Washington... despite the sound
system having been destroyed by saboteurs the night before and hastily
rebuilt by the Army Corps of Engineers that morning.
In the end, of course, the saboteurs won. In a few short years King was
dead, not to mention Malcom X and both Kennedys; a full-scale
near-genocidal war raging in Vietnam, Freda Payne pleading
Bring the Boys
Home. Half a century later, nothing much has changed except
the technology that allows the USA to kill countless people overseas without
drafting hundreds of thousands Americans to do the dirty work in person.