An 18-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From April, 1970
by Richard Grayson
Monday, April 6, 1970
A difficult day, for I had to face myself. Dr. Wouk and I got down to the real nitty-gritty today. We discussed my homosexual feelings and fantasies.
He doesn’t think I should tell my parents anything; that would just worry them. He says gay people can be changed, but only if they want really to, and he doesn’t see anything that makes him feel I do. Neither do I.
Dr. Wouk suggested I don’t look for any gay encounters in the near future; it would upset me too much right now. We have to find out why I took my mother’s role instead of my father’s. This was the most revealing session Dr. Wouk and I have had.
After lunch at Wolfie’s, I went to the Student Center and talked with Jeanne. In Psych, Dr. Bonchek lectured on the phallic stage and Erikson’s theories.
In English, we discussed Benito Cereno, which hardly anybody had read. I was tired and depressed and so I cut Science. It was good seeing my classmates again after the vacation. I got the new College Bulletin, which is interesting reading.
The Senate killed the move to send the Carswell nomination back to the Judiciary Committee, so it looks like he’ll be confirmed on Wednesday.
Tonight I read the Melville story and watched a silly preview of tomorrow night’s Oscar awards. David Eisenhower threw out the first baseball of the year.
Both the Knicks and the Rangers got into the playoffs.
Friday, April 10, 1970
Last night I dreamed I was seduced by a pretty blonde girl. I woke up early and decided to go to the student government interview for the job of elections commissioner.
Some members of the committee questioned my competence — they asked questions like what would I do if one person hit another on the head with a bullhorn, which happened in the last election — so I don’t know if I got the job yet.
Mr. Benezra gave a difficult lab quiz, and we did an experiment on radioactivity. After a burger at Wolfie’s, I studied Psych in SUBO. The midterm itself was fair; I think I got in the 70s. Cheryl, a rather vapid sorority sister of Rachel’s sat next to me and said she used Eugene’s notes from last term.
We had a lesson on relative pronouns in French. Leonard sold me a pale green button that simply says “environment!” It’s for Earth Day and the environmental teach-ins.
Tricky Dick bitterly attacked the Senate for rejecting Carswell; it seems that Senators Cook and Mrs. Smith were the crucial Republican votes against him. Nixon said the Senators were anti-South and therefore his next nominee will be a conservative Northerner. This administration is tearing the country apart for their own political purposes.
In the mail today, I got a notice that my play had been received by the contest chairman and also an announcement of the peace meeting on Monday.
I tried to call Gary, but no one was home, and now I’m tired and have to get up early tomorrow. Getting involved is good, but it’s tiring and trying.
Tuesday, April 14, 1970
A drizzly day that was overshadowed by the crisis in space. An explosion last night onboard Apollo 13 blew out some instruments, and the moon landing was cancelled.
They’re going to loop around the moon and hopefully come down Friday, but the water supply is running out and there are other complications. I watched the TV reports this morning with Marc, home from school with a cold.
In English, we discussed Daisy Miller. James didn’t like to use the first person, but I find that point of view loosens up my otherwise stiff writing. In French, we read a section of Le Petit Prince. Art was interesting, about the beautiful Hellenistic sculptures.
Back home, Dad and I reached a détente. I said I was sorry for throwing the soda in his face yesterday. He told me the Pants Set is now in serious financial straits and “something’s got to go” if the Kings Plaza store is to open.
Dad spoke to Marty tonight about taking in partners. They’re loath to give someone else all the benefit of their years of hard work, but it may be necessary to save the business.
I talked with fat Rosemary about literature on the bus today. She’s an English major with an emphasis on creative writing and knows a lot about literature.
Nixon appointed a conservative Minnesota judge, Harry Blackmun, to the high court. Not much is known about him.
Tonight I watched a hockey game and did some French and Psych work. A report just came on TV that the spaceship maneuvered the critical burn around the moon.
Thursday, April 16, 1970
A bright, mild day. Grandma Ethel was here this morning, and Mom took her to a skin doctor, who told her to come in for treatments. I read Washington Squareand exercised this morning.
Today was the Environmental Teach-In, and class attendance was optional. In English, we discussed Henry James’ style and irony; I admire his taut writing enormously.
Prof. Levine again lectured in Science on electron configuration. Leonard informed me that Mrs. Wachsberger was absent, so Fran and I went to the teach-in, where we saw a film on air pollution and heard a speaker on water resources. Adam Walinsky was there earlier in the day, as was Rep. Ottinger and President Kneller.
Gene Nickerson graciously withdrew from the governor’s race, citing money problems; that leaves King Arthur Goldberg, Robert Morgenthau and Howard Samuels.
Rep. Gerald Ford is going ahead with plans to impeach Justice Douglas. It’s a political ploy that will backfire, I’m afraid.
Pete Hamill writes of the fights and the fury at yesterday’s Bryant Park rally. For the first time he’s been going to these things, he did not like the kids. The humor and the camaraderie seem to have gone out of the peace movement, he said. But they couldn’t go on forever, not through this increasingly repressive society.
Hopefully, the crippled Apollo 13 craft will splash down safely in the Pacific tomorrow.
Monday, April 20, 1970
It rained hard and steadily most of the day. I got soaked this morning on my way downtown and back.
After reading Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex — But Were Afraid to Ask, Dr. Wouk said that he thought David Reuben was extremely biased against homosexuality.
I still haven’t decided which way I’m going to go; even bisexuality has its problems. I expressed my twin fears about asking a girl for a date: that she will reject me, and more importantly, that she will accept me and I’ll have to be masculine and make out with her.
Dr. Wouk doubts that I would be impotent, which is what I’m worried about.
I stopped in to see Grandpa Herb at the Slack Bar before coming home. He said that he and Grandma Ethel are going to Great-Grandma Bessie’s seder tonight, and that Grandpa Nat and Grandma Sylvia went to the country for Passover.
There was a blackout in our neighborhood when I got here. I went to school just for English, where we continued our discussion of James.
At home, I blew up when the steak we had for dinner stank. I wish I could control my temper.
Judge Carswell announced as a candidate for Senator from Florida today. The campaigns are heating up. The Democrats will have to work to keep control of the Senate. I think they’ll increase their number in the House and in the governorships.
Tricky Dick tonight said he’s going to withdraw more troops. The antiwar movement, if not dead, is at least halted.
Wednesday, April 22, 1970
8 PM. A warm and sunny Earth Day.
I woke up from a dream that I was kissing a girl on the Mill Basin bus and she got sick. Weird. And I got up so fast, I got dizzy.
Gary called and asked me to come with him to the Union Square rally. Mayor Lindsay closed off Fifth Avenue and 14th Street to traffic and the crowds were enormous. But I didn’t feel like getting into so big a crowd and went by myself to the smaller Prospect Park rally.
I parked the car on 8th Avenue and walked to the meadow. A singing group called the Smubbs, dressed as pigs, sang about pollution. They also sang a song to the tune of “Give My Regards to Broadway” that was “Give my regards to Brooklyn / Remember me to Bartel Pritchard Square.”
Then Governor Rockefeller made a speech saying, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the pollution.” He had a lot of trouble with hecklers.
I met Jerry Lewisohn, who was there covering it for the LIU radio station. He’s a speech major at LIU. We talked about old times from junior high, but he’s part of my past and I can’t go home again.
Walking back to the car when the rally ended, I was stunned to see Rocky waving to me from a bicycle! Too bad I’d used up all my film.
Dad came home and said he was booed by the crowd as he drove through the streets near Union Square and people banged on his Cadillac.
The TV reports said the crowds were disappointing. It remains to be seen what will be done about our environment.
I did some writing tonight, working on my new story, and I watched the moviePurlie Victorius.
Thursday, April 23, 1970
A chilly, dark, difficult day. I didn’t feel well last night and was up most of the night, and most of today I felt really rotten and achy.
Mom took Grandma Ethel to the skin doctor this morning; she also took Jonny, who the doctor said has extremely dry skin: “like an old man’s.”
I doodled in English while Miss Glikin talked about Washington Square. We’re getting a test a week from today. In Science, Prof. Levine lectured on chemical bonding. Because I was exhausted, I cut Art for the first time.
A good dinner — roast beef and tomatoes on French bread — made me feel a bit better, though Marc was in one of his grouchy moods when I got home.
Mom and Dad are going on a junket to Las Vegas at the end of July, and Dad bought part of a trotting horse — Space Age — last night with Lennie in Yonkers.
I still haven’t gotten back my story from riverrun; I’m afraid to hope that it will be printed. It would be the most wonderful thing to happen to me in a long time.
Today Nixon ended occupational and paternal draft deferments. I attended the peace rally at Whitman Auditorium but left before it ended. When I went up to Paul O’Dwyer to take pictures, I spoke to him for ten minutes and we had an interesting conversation. I admire him enormously.
Gary called: he’s been called up to Fort Polk, Louisiana, next Friday. It really bothers me to see him have to go to basic training. I tried to keep his spirits up, but he’s quite anxious.
There was a report on old comic books earlier tonight on Walter Cronkite, and I took my collection out. City of Night was in the same cabinet as the comic books, and skimming it, I became very depressed. If City of Night is what gay life is like, I don’t want it.
Still, the mind itself can make a hell of heaven or a heaven of hell.
Wednesday, April 29, 1970
A busy, mad, sad, wacky, headachy day.
I didn’t feel well this morning but went to Psych anyway; we went over the midterm, and I’ve got six more points coming to me.
After class, I went to meet Mark Savage, my co-commissioner of the student government elections, and he explained our duties, outlined the electoral code, and set up office hours for each of us in the offices of The Ol’ Spigot, the student government newspaper, of which he is editor.
I was late for Science, where Prof. Levine lectured on carbon compounds. Then I bought a lot of junk for the elections commission at the bookstore and went back to the office to staple the candidates’ nominating petitions together.
I came home hungry and with a headache. Gary came over to say goodbye — or rather, “see you around,” as we put it. He leaves for Fort Polk on Friday morning.
I spoke to Gary’s mother on the phone earlier; she’s starting to get emotional, and I’ll have to keep in touch with her while he’s gone. I gave Gary a gift — a monogrammed shoeshine kit — and we talked till late, both dreading the time when he’d have to leave.
He kissed Mom, and I walked him out to the car, feeling helpless as I touched his arm. I’ve taken Gary for granted as a friend; I’m going to miss him, and I told him so.
Nixon is sending “advisers” to Cambodia. Yowza! Yowza! Here we go again.
Thursday, April 30, 1970
I had trouble getting up early this morning. Meeting Peggy May as I walked on campus, I congratulated my old high school friend — we played husband and wife in that scene from Ionesco’s Amédée — on her marriage to Aaron.
In the Spigot office, I pasted voter registration slips into notebooks. Mark is a cherubic, energetic Mark Twain lover: a nice guy. I haven’t met Bruce, my other colleague on the elections commission, yet.
While working I talked with Juan, the photo editor of The Ol’ Spigot, and others who came in and out. Student government is confusing, to say the least.
I think I wrote a good essay on the English test. In Science, Prof. Levine lectured on carbohydrates and proteins. Effie, Janet and I chatted away in Art as Mrs. Wachsberger droned on about Rome.
I got back photos of our seder, Earth Day and Dr. Wouk.
Nixon went on TV tonight to announce that he’s sending U.S. troops into Cambodia to “clean out” the Communist sanctuaries there. He did it in his pseudo-sincere style, pausing to wipe the sweat off his face.
It remains to be seen how this operation will go, but it definitely is an escalation of the war. Nixon is gambling, and it’s a calculated risk. I wonder if the “silent majority” will come through for the President again.
I studied French and Psychology tonight.