An 18-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From March, 1970
by Richard Grayson
Tuesday, March 3, 1970
I arose late and gave Mom her birthday present. She’s 39 today, as old as Jack Benny. Jonny feels better but stayed in bed. Sandra didn’t come in, and I wonder if she’s coming back.
This morning in the mail I received a letter from Mansarde. She’s still on her self-sufficiency kick and is thinking of buying a loom and going back to smoking hash.
Although she takes karate, she hates boxing, which she says is brutal. I like it, however, because it’s a gutsy sport, not disgusting like bullfighting — which is what Mansarde compared it to.
Happily, I met Maria before class. Her hand is better and she looks prettier than ever with a new hairdo. In English, we had another boring discussion. Mike Ruscitto and Joan Castagna stopped smoking in class long enough to ask me to sign the attendance sheet in Art, which they planned to cut.
We had an enjoyable French lesson today, and in Art we learned about the Assyrians.
Marc’s math tutor came over this afternoon, and he says she helped him. I received the preregistration forms for the summer and fall; there have been a lot of course changes.
This summer I’m going to take English 3.4 (Drama and Poetry) and English 59/Topics in Literature (Pornography and Literature, which sound like fun). In the fall, I’ll try to take Poli Sci 15 (Theory and Practice), Classics 1, Speech, Art 1.2, and Sociology 5.
Dad brought Mom flowers but she didn’t want a birthday card. Tonight I beat Mom, Dad and Jonny at Risk and watched the TV magazines. I’ve got to get to sleep early, as I have a dentist appointment tomorrow morning.
Sunday, March 8, 1970
I arose early, did some French work and Art reading, had a poached egg and read the Times, then drove to Rockaway and visited Grandma Ethel and Grandpa Herb, who last night went to the wedding of Grandma’s step-nephew in Tarrytown.
We watched television, had lunch (a frankfurter which upset my stomach terribly), and took a walk on the boardwalk. It was sunny but very windy and cold.
Grandpa Nat and Grandma Sylvia arrived home from Kennedy after 2 PM. Grandpa Nat complained that they were the youngest people in Florida. Grandma Sylvia said the weather was not the greatest but they had a good time.
Mom, Dad and Jonny passed me on the road as I was leaving Rockaway. Tomorrow we’ll know if the Easter trip to Puerto Rico is on or not, and frankly, I hope it’s no go. I didn’t expect to go through the horror of another vacation plane trip so soon.
Tonight I read The Right People, about Real Society, which fascinates me, and I watched The Forsyte Saga. I don’t feel very well.
Wednesday, March 11, 1970
I had a good night and arose early, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I got a free roll of film in the mail, and I gave the film I took to the camera store.
For run, I drove to Kennedy Airport and got lost in the maze of roads there. Marc was home sick again. The new cleaning woman, Inez, has the most terrible body odor I’ve ever smelled.
On the bus to school, I told Evan about my psychotherapy. Being science-oriented, he wasn’t sympathetic: “It’s too imprecise.”
In Psych we had a quiz and saw an interesting film on mother love in infant Rhesus monkeys. We learned about idioms in French and about electrolysis in Science.
On Flatbush Avenue, I talked with Dan, who’s very interesting to chat with about literature. Going home on the bus, a guy — another freshman — was talking with his friend and couldn’t think of a word. I said, “Mausoleum,” and he said, “It’s no coincidence he knew that.”
Grandpa Nat is happy about all the work he’s got at the place after all those weeks in Florida. “Now I feel I’m on vacation,” he said.
Dr. Wouk said I had made good progress and that maybe I should give some thought to group therapy. He and I rapped about a potpourri of things: prostitutes (he’s worked with them and says they’re mostly addicts and homosexuals); pot (he’s tried it but advised me not to); theater; my year at Franklin School; touching (he’s in favor of it, saying it’s a good feeling, and I’ve been doing more of it lately).
I’m definitely gonna write a story for riverrun, the school literary magazine.
Saturday, March 14, 1970
I got the developed films this morning, and most of the photos I took came out well. Then I went to the college and at Campus Closet I bought a tan sweater and a shirt (button-down, hard to find). Irv, the storeowner, knows Dad and was very friendly.
In her apartment, Grandma Ethel made me lunch and I drove her, first to a wool store on Brighton Beach Avenue, and then over to Aunt Claire’s on Ocean Parkway, in the first house I ever lived in. I came in for a while, but got restless.
In Canarsie, I drove past Eugene’s house. He was busy working, so I just dropped in for half an hour. It was very nice and friendly: we talked about school, girls, and soap operas. He’s going back to Camp Monroe this summer, but this time as the assistant dramatics counselor.
His sister was still there — she’s still working at H-I-S – and I met Mrs. Lefkowitz on my way out. Even though it’s been years since junior high, I still would like to feel that Eugene and I are very good friends; I love him like a brother. At home again, I played Risk with Jonny and watched a concert on TV.
Gary came over to borrow some of my and Marc’s hippie medallions for a sociological experiment he and his cousin are working on. They are going to dressed differently (hippie, hip, square, etc.) and will sit next to someone while blasting a radio and they’ll see how the people react.
Lately I’ve been reading that masturbation is good for you, and I believe it — probably because I want to. It’s experiencing yourself in a very interesting way and teaches you that your body is a source of pleasure.
I promised myself that I’ll study Science tomorrow.
Friday, March 20, 1970
Spring arrived at 7:57 PM, but it rained today and was cool.
Mr. Benezra gave back the tests. I got 74 and could have done better. In Lab, we talked about the environment; some scientists say that the earth may be uninhabitable in thirty years. That sounds impossible to believe.
After lunch, I went to a lounge in the Student Center and listened to Marty Greenberg sing and play the guitar. I wish I had musical ability, but when Uncle Dave tried to give me clarinet lessons, I was horrible and hated having the wooden reed in my mouth.
In Psych, we went into Freud’s psycho-sexual development theory: the oral and anal stages. Dr. D’Avanzo cancelled class in order for us go to the Language Department Festival, where Michael Lux and I sat through an Italian play we didn’t understand a word of.
The postal strike goes on and has spread from the city to New Jersey and Connecticut. The glut of backlogged mail is accumulating and business is hurting. I’m beginning to miss my magazines. A national agreement of some sort was made, but it’s doubtful if the postmen here will return to work.
Jonny has a sore throat and was sick in bed, so I watched him while the others went out to dinner. With nothing to do, I ran through the list of Senators and calculated that Judge Carswell is in trouble; the vote may be so close that Spiro could break the tie.
Tonight I went out and walked around Kings Highway in the rain. In Variety, I saw that they’re making a movie out of Slaughterhouse Five; I don’t see how.
These new midi-length dresses are horrible. Girls look so much better in miniskirts.
The term is half-over, and in a week, vacation starts.
Monday, March 23, 1970
A dark, mild day. Jonny stayed in bed all day, but at least he went to the bathroom. I left the house early this morning to go downtown.
Dr. Wouk said that the pleasures of doing anything always outweigh the anxiety of discomfort beforehand. We mostly discussed mundane things, and I switched my appointments to Monday mornings.
On the Flatbush Avenue bus to the college, I met an old Belgian lady, Mrs. Delport, who talked my head off. I had a burger and went to Psych, where we saw a film whose thesis was that the economic incentive lead to a great civilization. It was a lot of garbage.
In English, Miss Glikin gave back the midterms, and happily, I got a B. Science was pretty interesting, about theories of the atom.
Going home, I talked to a guy in my Psych class who I’ve often noticed on the bus. He’s a nice guy.
On TV, Nixon declared a national emergency and ordered troops (Army, Air National Guard, National Guard) into the city to run the post office. They certainly can’t sort mail with bayonets, can they?
I wish Nixon would negotiate with the workers, who surely need the money. I guess since he’s in the Guard, Gary was called up as sort of a strikebreaker for his father, who works at the post office on Nostrand Avenue.
Tonight I relaxed by reading and watching the real trial of a black militant on channel 13. It’s fascinating. I wonder if I’d make a good lawyer.
Wednesday, March 25, 1970
A beautiful spring day. This morning I finished my story in bed. I spent last night and today revising it to a loosely connected reminiscence about Daniel, Katy, Oliver, soap operas, Chinese food, group therapy and other junk.
It was hard work, but I’m not sure it’s very good. It’s rather narcissistic and probably influenced by Vonnegut. But I dropped it off at the riverrun mailbox at school.
We had a quiz in Psych, and I got 8 out of 10. Dr. D’Avanzo went over our French papers; I got 93 on the test. In Science, there was a lecture on the Bohr theory, which was a bore.
Steven came over today, as he and Marc had a half-day of school and they didn’t bother to go in.
The postmen are going back to work, but now the air traffic controllers are having a “sick-out.”
Maud has been here over a week, and she goes about her work quickly and quietly. I think Mom finally found a new cleaning woman who’s really good.
The Pentagon said today that marijuana is prevalent among the Vietnam troops: no surprise to me. Opposition to Judge Carswell is growing, but will it be enough?
Dad is very angry with Ron Jay for his false promises and there’s going to be a big meeting tomorrow, when the Pants Set debentures are supposed to come out. Dad feels as if they have been hoodwinked. With the mail strike over, Marty said all the bills the company can’t pay will start coming in.
On the black militant trial on channel 13, obviously the defense and prosecution can’t be both right; the jury decides tomorrow, and I’d vote for acquittal based on the testimony I watched.
Even if riverrun doesn’t print my story, I feel as though I accomplished something in exercising my creativity.
Friday, March 27, 1970
A windy, bright Good Friday. This morning I had the car while Mom was in the beauty parlor. Mom has a bad cold, but nothing can stop her from going to the hairdresser.
I drove around, hoping to see a familiar face. After lunch, Marc and I went to the Mayfair to see They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? The movie was about a grueling Depression dance marathon and showed human degradation and misery.
Jane Fonda, Susannah York and especially Gig Young as the satanic m.c. were all great. It was depressing, but Marc and I enjoyed it. We came home on the Avenue U bus, and as we were walking home, little Lisa Fishman said that Ronnie will be coming up from Maryland and staying at her house later this week.
The air traffic controllers’ strike goes on, with long delays and cancellations at the airports.
Tonight I felt depressed and took a long drive, stopping by Dr. Lipton’s house. Three years of my life is entwined there. I almost picked up a young man there; sometimes I think if I don’t hold another being in my arms soon, I’ll explode.
Gary called when I got back and told me of the horrible conditions and harassment that he’s had this week on active duty at the post office. He has the weekend off and suggested we take a trip tomorrow to Long Island.
Monday, March 30, 1970
The snow melted during the day. I went to Dr. Wouk this morning and we discussed how overprotective my parents are and how I react to it with cries of helplessness.
I had been in the Slack Bar earlier to say hello to Grandpa Herb, but I went back there after Dr. Wouk’s and saw Uncle Jerry there and also Dad, who took me to Junior’s for lunch.
Afterwards, Dad took me to see his customers, first in Ridgewood and then to his partner Jimmy’s store on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, and then to some of the stores of his other partners: Sid’s store on Bay Parkway and Jack’s store on 86thStreet. Sid and Jack are both in Florida again now. While there, we also went into the Pants Set, where the manager, Hank – who strikes me as crude – gave Dad complaints he can do little about.
Today I met Dad’s customers and watched him selling goods, but that line of business is not for me.
Marty joined Weight Watchers on Sunday mornings and brought with him Dad’s cousin Myron, who needs to lose 120 pounds.
Today Maud didn’t come in, but maybe she’s tired from celebrating Easter.
Alice and I gabbed on the phone for an hour. We discussed how many of our old friends from junior high and high school seem to be getting engaged and married. Peggy May married Aaron already, Alice said.
She also said Howie applied for a job at an upstate radio station. He calls Alice a JAP: Jewish-American Princess.
Tonight I went to the Mill Basin Peace Council meeting. Guy Mazzeo moved to Florida and will be missed. First we discussed plans for the April 23 rally; Nickerson, O’Dwyer, a Columbia prof, a poetess, an ex-GI, and some entertainers will be there.
Then we talked about Moratorium Day and got all sidetracked with side issues like the Chicago 7, the Panthers, etc. The meeting ended in arguments and uproar. God bless liberals, they can’t agree on the time of day.