Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Haines School 1963
1963. This is the year before my first meeting with Dante. Unbeknowst to me, the John Keehan and Bob Trias's World Karate Tournament took place at the University of Chicago Fieldhouse that summer. I would hear about it. I would see pictures in the paper about it. My exposure to martial arts at this time was Dick Tracy's fellow detective, the absolutely politically incorrect Joe Jitsu. There were the old Mr. Moto films; James Bond cold war era films like Dr. No and From Russia with Love; the tv series Secret Agent Man; various episodes of Ozzie and Harriet even.
The other night, as I was checking email and forcing myself away from the on-going intellectual property drama at countdante.com. I got an email from a Pat Hirschauer. She had been looking for an old teacher of hers by the name of Dorothy Luckett and came across the blog. This was one of my teachers at Haines School in Chinatown. Turns out that Pat Hirschauer is Patty Mah, a 5th grade classmate of mine. Amazing. I sent her an email and asked her to get onto AIM and we started chatting. I had been looking for a class photo from 1963 and 1964. I asked her if she had one. She did. She had her husband shoot a picture of it and she email it to me. Patty told me two things that really floored me. She said she remembered me because I was realy nice to her and she used to come over to the projects just to ride up and down on the elevators. She did what????? I never knew this. I got to talk to her more about this.
This picture is taken in October, 1963, two months after Martin Luther Kings March on Washington and 1 month before the asassination of John Kennedy. I remember most the death of those little girls in September when the American Christian Racist Extremist terrorist Ku Klux Klan bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama. Medgar Evers was also killed that year by other Christian Racist extremist all in the name of the Lord and keeping America "White". Talk about a losing battle.
I remember this because at Haines our teacher Ms Luckett would talk about these things with us. W.E.B. DuBois died this year also. Kenya became independent. The OAU was formed, Mr. Melvin Gaynor told us about this.
In this year CLR James wrote Beyond a Boundary, a most amazing book on the the game of Cricket in the West Indies. A book which would influence my decision to do this film in some ways because of all the offbeat and colorful characters who inhabited James World as he grew into this game, a social history of sport that I hope I can equal in the making of my film.
I think I saw Lawrence of Arabia at the Michael Todd theater that year, where the Goodman Theater sits today. Chess Record was up the street and around the corner from me on 21 and Michigan. I lived at 2310 S. State St. I sold the Chicago Defender, Jet Magazine, tried to help load papers at Muhammad Speaks Newspaper on 25 and Federal Street.
I went to church at Quinn Chapel and a little jackleg Pentacostal Church run by an Elder Turner who wore a kufe in his ministry. It was where I look back to years later and would realize African religion still lived in our community.
In this picture we stand on the threshold of a changing world. The Beatles are all the rage in popular music. My father went to Viet Nam in this year. I saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on TV after he killed Kennedy. Here are we all, Patty Mah, me, Francis Bing, Susan Dee, Garrick Anders, Micheal Cheung, David Lee, Mary Ann Jackson and others whose names I cannot remember. I will get Patty to help me fill in the blanks.
Out of this decade I emerged a bit weary at 17 but ready to take on the world.