Tag Archives: the 60s

Prep Boys – Introduction (1st revision)

29 Aug

1960s Collage Montage Of Many Heads by Vintage Images†

 

Prep Boys

By L. Stewart Marsden

Introduction

The cauldron of change had begun to boil. It had long simmered since the end of the war, above the coals and ashes of shallow graves, where man after man, boy after boy, had fallen in battle and were thinly veiled by dirt and time. The famous fights: Bull Run, Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg; and the lesser knowns: Hoke’s Run, Kessler’s Cross Lanes and Ivy Mountain all ground sinew and bone and blood and heart into thick, fertile mulch –– enough to spread across the cotton fields of a thousand plantations in the South.

For some, the gruel of that black-iron pot smelled hearty and enticing, bringing water to the mouth and a pang in the belly. The appetite was stirred by a waft of possibility, and those who would feast on change were impatient, constantly repeating “Is it ready?” 

Still others, fearing it should not be served out wholesale because of stomachs unused to fine cuisine, or so they said, warned it was not time, was not ready to be served, and they managed to cover the gaping mouth of the cauldron with a heavy, nearly impenetrable lid.

But like anything heating up on the stove that is covered with a lid, it was bound to boil over, and boil over it eventually did.

Multiple wars later, in far away lands against enemies obvious and not-so-obvious, during a time when the country had rested and refreshed from its addiction to lead and scold the world; when the pissing contest between Our Way and the Wrong Way had escalated to shoe banging and nuclear checks; the gruel began to seep under the lid.

 

†Until that time, America –– the one that “we” counted –– was scrubbed white and commercial-perfect. Only those of color who were adorned with white culture were included, and then sparsely, as though a tell-tale spicing of the stew, and barely noticeable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pain

19 Aug

 

Pain

By L. Stewart Marsden

 

When I was about ten years old, I began having intense attacks of pain on my right side under my rib cage. It was deep inside. The best way I found to describe it was it felt as though a double-bladed knife, triangular in shape from its tip to the hilt, was being slowly inserted into me. The pain would gradually increase over hours, and I did everything I could for relief to no avail. It got so bad I would force myself to throw up in order to empty my stomach. Again, useless. I even banged my head against the wall to distract my mind elsewhere.

I was checked and tested for a myriad of maladies, including hepatitis and ruptured appendix, during which time I must have drunk gallons of pasty, chalky “stuff” that would show up problems under x-rays.

Nothing.

The attacks repeated over a number of years, seeming to get more and more painful and intolerable. And the duration also lengthened, from several hours to a day and a half. The usual guess at a diagnosis was severe indigestion. So whenever I felt an attack coming on, I’d drain a bottle of Pepto Bismal – thinking it might lessen the severity. That’s what you get for thinking.

Finger down the throat. Head banging on the wall. Even had a pediatrician give me morphine once. Well, that worked, but it sure wasn’t going to be the normal treatment.

Over the years I suffered dozens of attacks. Only complete exhaustion and drop dead sleep helped me survive.

The spring before Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinkley, the attacks began to occur within weeks of each other. At the around the same time, I found out my older sister had her gallbladder removed due to having painful attacks.

Gallbladder!

A gastroenterologist told me I couldn’t have gallbladder disease, and my pain wasn’t the result of gallbladder attacks because I had been having them since I was ten.

“Improbable,” he surmised, having never heard of someone so young diagnosed with the malady.

This time the tests – for gallbladder – came back positive, and proved the doctor wrong.

The surgery took hours longer than was expected. My gallbladder had shrunk up under my liver, and the surgeon cut a large half-moon opening to the right of my stomach area in order to actually move my liver So he could get to the gallbladder.

It looked like a dried-up lemon, he told me later. And it was packed with dozens and dozens of BB-sized stones that had been produced over the years.

Pain.

It tells us something is wrong, and compels us to do something about it. I’ve heard preachers say metaphorically that it is God’s way of steering us in the right path. I have a response to that premise, but I can’t write it down in mixed company.

The solution for my pain over the years was first the diagnosis. And no one for the longest time reached a correct conclusion. At the time of those attacks, I was happy merely to have the pain go away, which they eventually did, but only to come back again.

There is no such thing as timeliness as far as pain is concerned, in my opinion.

I’ve been told that the pain of a gallbladder attack is at the same intensity as what women experience when in labor. I wouldn’t know. That could only be asserted by a woman, and I trust they would know.

We’re in a time of pain. The country.

Just shy of fifty years ago we were also in a time of pain not dissimilar to now.

Then, the sources of the pain were evident. On Sunday evenings when CBS covered the war in Vietnam on 60 Minutes. Kent State. Martin Luther King assassinated. The Black Panthers. The bombing of Hanoi. Bra-burning. Marches, marches, marches.

And like a gallbladder attack, it was like a two-edged knife being slowly inserted into the gut of the country, and there was no relief to be found.

We’re there once again. The faces are the same, only the names are different. Afghanistan. Syria. Al Qaeda. ISIS. Terrorism. Police brutality. Denial of rights to a different set of minorities. Racial tension. Political buffoonery. Fascists. Bigots. Racists.

For those of us who were around the first time during the 60s and 70s, it’s deja vous all over again. Ground Hog Day. Like the unseen gods are saying, “We’re going to do this until we get it right”-kind of scenario.

Is it just me? Or have I felt this pain before? And will we ever have a definitive diagnosis? Will we go into surgery to have this malignancy removed at last?

Were it only that simple.

In the meantime, we have the pain, which will persist and recur until solutions are found.