Reader's Reactions to May '68

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Aftermath, A Lover and A Reminder

eMail from Dana Shaw, via the Internet:

Dear Ric -

Monday, 4. May 1998:- What a great article from Jim Auman. Although I wasn't in Paris in May, I led a group of high school seniors into the City of Light in July of that year. I had spent twelve months with the boys - there were no females - and another adult planning the itinerary for our eight-week tour of Europe.

After reading about Danny the Red and the riots in the Latin Quarter, I was a bit apprehensive about going to Paris; but being in Europe without seeing Paris would have been akin to cutting off my right arm. We did not alter plans.

We had reservations for our entire group for eight nights at the Hotel Claude Bernard on the rue des Ecoles, about three blocks east of the Boul. Mich.' Indeed, we were the 'Europe on Five Dollars a Dayers.' The hotel was a Frommer recommendation.

When we first arrived and I had the opportunity to observe the remains of the May riots I was rather apprehensive about turning my eighteen year old charges loose at night lest they end up in harm's way.

The boulevard was totally devoid of cobblestones. What trees remained were missing the grates that always had surrounded them, and a few buildings west of the boulevard were a still occupied by students who hooted and hollered at passers-by.

Initially, we went everywhere as a group. However, eighteen year old boys being eighteen year old boys, it didn't take long before a contingent of them confronted me one afternoon in my room - asking politely, but withpaving stones considerable conviction - to be allowed to go out in the evenings by themselves as we had previously allowed them to do in Copenhagen and Munich.

With a certain amount of fear and trepidation, my colleague, John, and I granted their request with the understanding that they would be particularly mindful of the agreed upon curfew. John and I spent an uneasy evening.

The curfew hour arrived and all were home save two. After thirty minutes had passed, I collected their room key from the concierge, leaving a rather terse note in its place instructing them to come to my room to collect it. Forty minutes later I heard a gentle rapping on my door. I opened it and there stood my two miscreants looking so abashed that I had to work a bit more carefully than I had anticipated to slice off a piece of my mind and give it to them.

Dutifully chastened, they explained that indeed they had met some French students and had even been in one of the occupied buildings. They were late because they were afraid to leave on time because their 'hosts' seemed so earnest in their attempts to make these young Americans understand the plight of the French students and why they were doing what they were doing.

Treated graciously, indeed very kindly it seems, my two young lads had lived a history lesson, not only surviving it but learning the valuable lesson that there always are two sides to a story.

Now, thirty years later I still remember the mixed feelings I had that night. It was difficult to stay angry at them long, but we also had no further curfews problems the rest of our trip.

Cheers! Dana

Remember the Word 'Peacenik?'

eMail Mike Harmon, via the Internet:

Dear Ric -

Monday, 4. May 1998:- Boy, I guess I'm on a roll lately; so are you. This week's edition was clearly a 'Peace de Resistance" or something to that effect. It would have been great to have been in Paris in '68 and lived those heady days of 'revolution.'

I remember a girlfriend of mine at the time, a 'college girl,' who talked me into going to a demonstration against the war. It was probably sometime in 1968. I was still pretty naive about things like that so I didn't really get into the whole thing, but when they decided to take over the administration building I went along.

The wildest thing I did was to pull a sheet of paper out of a secretary's typewriter as we passed by. I was always a 'lover' not a 'fighter.'


On the Scene In the US in '68

eMail from Gordon Greb, via the Internet:

Dear Ric -

Wednesday, 6. May 1998:- It was fascinating to read what you and Jim Auman had to say about the mob violence and De Gaulle's reaction to it during those turbulent days of 30 years ago.

It seems a bad dream, doesn't it? Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated inLiberation 4. may l968. The unfortunate killing of innocent kids on the campus of Kent State by frightened and inexperienced National Guardsmen took place in l968. And anti-Vietnam War protests reached a crescendo in the USA in 1968 when Nixon ordered the bombing of Cambodia.

Libération's title page for Monday, 4. May 1998.

When it came to the protest movement, I was in the middle of them all year - not only as a spectator on a campus - but as the faculty adviser to students covering these events with tape recorders, film cameras, and 'live' TV equipment.

We were feeding our coverage to radio and TV stations, and sometimes my kids who were reporting the demonstrations got hauled away to jail and I had to bail them out, saying, "They belong to the campus press. They have a right to be there to cover the story."

And once or twice, my kids ended up in the hospital, having been hit on the head by (1) a protester or (2) a cop.

Your Chico Amigo, Gordon

Metropole Story Noted Across Atlantic

Thursday, 7. May 1998:- A note from Christine Roane at the Christian Science Monitor alerted me to their Friday edition feature, 'The 'French Look Back At May '68' by Peter Ford. Ms. Roane also said that the online edition of the paper would be linking to Jim Auman's 'Eyewitness to Paris in May '68' which appeared in last week's Metropole.

Regards, Ric

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