Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remembering the Summer of 1972

Do you remember the summer of 1972? I assume that most of you who read this do have memories that go back forty years. At the same time, I hope some readers are younger than 45 and will enjoy reading about things before they can remember.
One of the main events in June 1972 was the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. Thus began the Watergate scandal, which culminated with President Nixon resigning in August 1974, the first and only time a President has resigned.
Of much less national significance, on June 9, 1972, fourteen inches of rain fell in six hours in western South Dakota, bursting a dam near Rapid City and drowning 237 people. (I am glad a similar thing did not happen last week when June and I spent two nights in Rapid City.)
In July 1972 the Democratic National Convention, held in Miami, nominated Senator George McGovern to be the Democratic nominee for president. I was delighted with McGovern’s nomination, for he was one of the first and strongest congressional opponents to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
McGovern, who turns 90 next month, grew up in and still lives in Mitchell, South Dakota, the town where we spent the night of May 26. One wonders how much different (and better off) the nation would be now if McGovern had won the election of ’72. (The election this fall will also make a great difference in what this nation will be like four years, or forty years, from now.)
In August 1972 the last U.S. ground troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. I don’t know how much that was related to the candidacy of the anti-war Sen. McGovern, but in November Nixon was decisively re-elected President. The end of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was not until 1975, though.
All of us remember the past not just because of significant national and world events, such as those mentioned above, but perhaps primarily for personal and family reasons. That is certainly true for me, as the summer of ’72 was an eventful one for my family.
The main event of the summer was the birth of our fourth (and last) child on June 3. (You know you are getting up in years when your youngest child celebrates his 40th birthday!)
The summer of 1972 was also the end of our first missionary “furlough.” We went to Japan as a family of four in 1966 and came back to the States for the first time in August 1971. We went back to Japan as a family of six, for our second daughter had been born in Japan in 1970.
Not long before leaving for Japan the second time, we had a family gathering at my folks’ farm northeast of Grant City, MO. One of the precious pictures taken that day is of my grandfather (J. Ray) Cousins holding our new baby, Ken. That weekend was the last time we saw Grandpa Cousins, for he died in 1974.
It wasn’t in the summer, but not long after arriving back in Japan, partly in protest to the continuing war in Vietnam (in spite of the withdrawal of ground troops), I began to grow a beard. So this year is, for me, the fortieth anniversary of my beard, which I couldn’t shave off now or I wouldn’t look like me anymore!

17 comments:

  1. Oh, what a wonderful moment of indulgence, remembering a summer of "firsts." I was 16 in 1972, and what a naive 16-year-old I was. I had learned a Haydn piano sonata, movements from piano concertos by Kabalevsky and Shostakovich, was reading Lord of the Flies for the first time, and spent the summer at the Aspen music festival for the first time. My new friends from the Julliard school of music went on insufferably, I thought, about the upcoming elections, and I just couldn't get into it. I was too impressed with having heard Bach's b-minor mass for the first time. I think I saw the movie "Dirty Harry" for the first time, but could be mistaken on that. What a juxtaposition, though, eh? I don't think, though, I could have grown a beard then, Leroy.

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  2. MPH, thanks for sharing your interesting remembrances from 1972--which were certainly different from mine. (I certainly couldn't have grown a beard at age 16 either.)

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  3. By the way, Leroy, McGovern was in KC last week. Jean and I saw him at Barnes & Noble. I wonder if it coincided with your presence in the Dakotas. I heard McGovern speak in St. Louis in 1972. We had high hopes, but, as I recall, her never showed an edge in the polls--early, middle, or late in the campaign. That's when I learned that people would hope against hope.

    Summer 1972 came at the end of my first year in seminary, and I spent that summer in a field education job that is still the hardest job I have ever had in my life--running a recreation program all day for 18 troubled children, aged 8 to 18, in a Children's home in Illinois. In some ways, it was also the most fulfilling job because I survived and succeeded! :-)

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  4. Anton, thanks for writing--and congratulations on experiencing success in the summer '72.

    When I saw David Nelson's picture with McGovern (which David posted on Facebook on May 16), I regretted I did not know about his coming to Kansas City and did not get to meet him personally. (Did he come back to Kansas City last week?)

    Before the Democratic convention in 1972, I kept saying that there was no way the Democrats would nominate McGovern. When they did, I was one of those who "hoped against hope."

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    1. Well, it was probably about the same time David had his picture made with McGovern, and I might have the week wrong. I don't know how long McGovern was here. He was signing his book. Jean and I just happened to be going into B&N and discovered he was there.

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  5. Keep the beard Leroy!

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  6. I was 26 in the summer of 1972 which made me old enough to not be drafted, so I was able to leave my "draft deferring engineering job" to spend that summer traveling in Europe. It was my last full year of being single. Karen and I were married in October of the next year. I could write a book about all my experiences in 1972. I'll spare you that by focusing on only one story.

    Early in 1972 I attended a pre-caucus meeting of the McGovern people, and learned that there was only one other McGovern supporter in my precinct. We agreed that I would nominate her to go to the State convention for selection of delegates to the National Democratic Convention, and then she would nominate me. On the day of the precinct caucus meeting I showed up to find a room full of older people (over age 30), but my compatriot McGovern supporter wasn't there. So when it came time for nominations I nominated her in absentia. Then when they were about to close nominations and I could see that the person who was suppose to nominate me wasn't there, I decided to go for broke and I stood up and nominated myself. I was't sure that complied with Robert's Rules of order, and I still don't know. But nobody objected and they accepted my nomination. I'm sure one reason nobody objected was they knew I wasn't going to be elected. And they were correct. I got one vote (I voted for myself). Our precinct was in an inner City blue collar community that was used to machine politics, so neither of us expected to be elected.

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  7. Dennis BoatrightJune 5, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    I was 10 most of the summer of 1972. I pitched my first no-hit shutout. Keeping with the political theme, I was a fascist since allowing the ball to be hit with young defenders does not result in a no-hitter. I am sure everyone has seen Bull Durham since it is a religious movie, so you will understand the political reference.

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  8. Dennis, congratulations on the 40th anniversary of your first no-hitter. (How many did you have in all?) -- It has been so long since I saw "Bull Durham" I can't remember the political reference. (Maybe I need to see it again.)

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  9. Dennis BoatrightJune 5, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Only three total, one two years later and one when I was 19 in a summer league. You might try googling Bull Durham fascist as I did to verify the quote. There are a lot of sites with BD quotes. Then watch the movie again.

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    1. Dennis, three no-hitters sounds impressive to me!

      Thanks for the advice about "Bull Durham."

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  10. Besides taking Physical Science at Southwest Baptist College in the second summer school session, I was doing a lot of thinking. The incubation of what I encountered in your Missions in the Modern World and OT Literature and Prophets classes - plus Dan Cochran's Intro to Philosophy class and Bettie Heifner's Intro to Sociology class - began; and hasn't stopped... I have added many other mind/heart stretching studies since and I expect to continue, but that foundation is still visible.

    Maybe "foundation" isn't a fully apt term. Perhaps "sub-soiler" (as an agricultural process) is a more descriptive label. 1972 may have been the most intense unlearning experiences of my life; at least a very memorable one as it was the first major one.

    I think that was the beginning of my journey to see through the preconceptions the Modern Western world implanted in me - so I could, at least a little bit, understand ancient documents the way the writers and early readers understood them. My primary focus has been on the biblical documents, especially trying to "get" them as they were early understood, without all the baggage laid over them by the process of ecclesiastical institutionalization/politicization that has proceeded for over 3,000 years.

    On the other hand, and far less seriously, before that second summer school session I found that I was absolutely no good at all at selling Bible Books (The Southwestern Company) around Texarkana, AR - and presumably anywhere else! Painful but not without personal growth.

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    1. Larry, thanks for your significant sharing about your thinking/activities in 1972.

      For those of you who don't know, our 1971-72 "furlough" was spent in Bolivar, MO, and in the Spring semester of '72 I taught the two courses at Southwest Baptist College that Larry mentioned. I am happy that he and one other student in those classes forty years ago are now on my Thinking Friends' mailing list and regular readers of this blog.

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  11. I was teaching in Irwin, Iowa. A very small town where even the grocery store closed at 5 pm. That was the year I turned 30, decided to change my life and returned back to Maryville to graduate school and started looking at jobs overseas. After that it was Europe for 32 years of super experiences.
    TM

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    1. TM, thanks for sharing about the change in your life 30 years ago. I am glad you went on to graduate school and then had 32 years of good experiences in Europe.

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  12. I created the following video on the Watergate Scandal that I hope people will find helpful: https://vimeo.com/43366697.

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  13. Ron, thanks for introducing your excellent video about Watergate!

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