A 19-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From April, 1971
by Richard Grayson
Monday, April 5, 1971
Last night Shelli woke me up to tell me that she’d just gotten a call from Ivan, who said he’s marrying Ronna before the end of the year. So this morning I called her back to find out if she had really called me or if I was just dreaming it. Ivan is so stupid sometimes.
Marc had midterms today and Mom drove him to school and then took Shelli and me to the college. Shelli went to the music library and I headed to LaGuardia, where Mendy and Bill were in the office.
Howie was visiting the radio station. He told Renee he can’t be friends with her anymore because she reminds him too much of Alice. I guess Howie is still taking the breakup with Alice very hard.
Shelli and I later ran into Pam, who said she was considering running for student government president, something Aaron didn’t figure on when he asked her to be his candidate for vice president.
Mystified over student government politics as usual, we left Pam and went for lunch with Jay. He’s also working on the Art paper, but Jay is an Art major and knows a lot more than me.
Back home, Shelli and I cleaned up my room, looked at old photos, and made love. We had no fights until after I took her home and had supper at my house. I had called her to read her a cute quote I read and we ended up arguing about something — I forgot what.
Sometimes, lately, I’ve been doubting whether I love her. I am still confused: she has so many problems, I don’t know if I can handle them. Tomorrow we’re supposed to go to the Mets opening game, and I don’t really want to go.
Aaron called me and said he persuaded Harry not to run. I later spoke to Elihu, who’s still putting pressure on Pam to run. There will be a meeting at Ham-State on Friday morning, and Elihu asked me to tell some people about it, so I rung up Joel, Allan, Warren and Hal (at Jacqui’s house).
It still doesn’t feel like spring.
Thursday, April 8, 1971
A bright, breezy day. I was awakened by a call from Shelli. We’re getting along wonderfully now, but she did relate how, after I left Shea Stadium on Tuesday because I couldn’t stand the cold — it was snowing, for Christ’s sake! — how my friend Gary told her that I wasn’t worth it and she was better off without me.
Gary has phoned several times since Tuesday, and I’ve been having Marc tell him that I was out. He doesn’t know that Shelli and I are back together and are both mad at him.
After my slow start with Anna Karenina, I started skimming a little today and made more progress.
Shelli and I had decided to meet for lunch in Kings Plaza, so I went to the center. In the store, Mom said that Grandpa Herb had another car accident last night. I rode with Norman on the freight elevator to take out the store’s garbage.
Shelli and Sindy came by, and we went to Cooky’s for a leisurely meal in pleasant surroundings. Sindy thinks Gary may want Shelli for himself. Afterwards, we went window-shopping for clothes. Then Shelli and I went to the college.
We found Hal in LaGuardia, and Shelli tried to make me jealous by going upstairs with Hal to the Spigot office. You see, she found out that I was never really jealous of Ivan and that it was all a goof.
Consuelo came by and told me Mark had a good interview at Newsday and they’ve got their fingers crossed that Mark gets that job selecting letters to the editor.
We went upstairs and found Marty, Bob, Dick Wright, Marty Markowitz and Stanley Thalberg in the Graduate Student Organization office. I unwittingly picked up a piece of paper off the table and discovered that it was the first page of a case, Wright, et al. v. Kneller and the Board of Higher Education.
Marty Markowitz warned me not to let anything leak out about it. It seems that the three student governments are suing for Student Services Corporation funds.
I left Shelli at the music library to study and went to buy her a birthday care and a cobra wallet. Later she called telling me about a letter she got from Elspeth in California. Elspeth lost her relatives’ addresses and also Greg’s address; she’s sick, broke, and stranded, poor baby.
Shelli kept hanging up on me until we both got nauseous. She was surprised to find out from Aaron that he’s a virgin, but I don’t think it’s weird at all.
Tomorrow we have that meeting to undo the results of last Friday’s caucus, when we were all so exhausted on the seventh ballot that we stupidly nominated that idiot Charlie as our presidential candidate.
Friday, April 9, 1971
A mild, sunny Good Friday. I overslept, but I reached Ham-State early. For the first fifteen minutes, the only person there was Leon. I made sure to talk about literature and film, not student government politics, and was relieved when Allan and Mike arrived.
Aaron, Pam and Charlie showed up, and Pam said she wouldn’t run for President. She would accept V.P. with Aaron but not with Charlie.
Charlie was quite obnoxious in his own way. The only thing he had going for him was his nice guy image, and today he blew that.
Jill was a welcome addition and she stood up to Jerry and said his objections to Aaron were strictly personal. Finally Marty asked which of us could support Charlie, and only Leon and Elihu raised their hands. Elihu was in a dilemma; he really wanted to run for vice president on a ticket headed by Pam.
The rest, except for Jerry, said they’d support Aaron, at which point Leon and Charlie walked out. We quickly nominated Pam for vice president. The only one to emerge with any dignity from the whole thing was our current vice president, Casey, who was unfairly abused by people on both sides.
With the support of Hal and Harvey, Aaron and Pam should have a good chance.
Gary and I were cool to each other although he came with me, Sindy and Shelli for lunch in Kings Plaza. There, we ran into Ivan, and he and Shelli kissed deeply to make me jealous, but now I just totally laugh it off.
Gary, however, is a different matter. Shelli says he’s not my friend and takes every opportunity to put me down behind my back.
At lunch, Sindy got up to go to the ladies’ room and I went with her, to also go to the john. Gary said to Shelli, “Who is he interested in: you or your sister?” Perhaps, as Sindy suspects, Gary is interested in Shelli.
Shelli reported that Elspeth sounded better in her next letter, but she doesn’t sound ecstatic. She’s a wonderful kid, and I’m worried about her.
I went home and finished Anna Karenina. Grandma Sylvia and Grandpa Nat left for Miami today.
The seder tonight was at Grandma Ethel’s. I chatted with my aunt and uncle and played with my cousins, but I missed Shelli and left early. My family is precious, but my school friendships and my love for Shelli are becoming more important.
Tuesday, April 13, 1971
Another beautiful spring day. I took the car to school and finally found a parking space near Midwood. After I met up with Shelli, she took me to see Elspeth, who arrived home last night.
After I welcomed Elspeth home with a kiss, she told me that her California trip was eventually a good one. The only cloud on the horizon is that Greg may have given her syphilis. I hope it’s not that. Anyway, Jerry was pleased when he heard that bit of news. It’s hard for me to understand how someone can be in love and engaged to someone and then hate them like that.
Shelli, Elspeth and I looked at the summer session schedule that was posted today. It was warm, so later we sat outside with Jack, Jill, Jay and others. Jay said that the Art paper is now due next week.
Jill, a psych major, believes that Leon’s taking over of Charlie — with Leon rescuing the campaign by running for president himself, with Charlie as V.P. — is a homosexual thing (subconscious, of course). Leon apparently decided to run himself with Charlie when Charlie cried after last Friday’s meeting.
Jerry said Leon has “adopted” Charlie, just the way Leon has “adopted” other cute young guys in the past, and that’s why he pushed so hard for Charlie to be the Mugwump candidate. “He’ll get bored and drop Charlie after a while,” Jerry said. “He always does with these boys.”
But Jerry disagrees with Jill about it being subconsciously homosexual, saying that Leon is basically asexual, shy and insensitive. I just think Leon is weird.
I found out that that “sexy blonde” that Hal said he and Ronna saw Elihu with at the auto show was only Elayne. Ha ha.
In English, we discussed Malamud’s Idiots First. After class, Mrs. Schlissel asked Phil and me and another kid, Richie Greenberg, if we wanted to get into her American Studies seminar. I hope I can get in.
No one wanted to show up for today’s Assembly meeting, so we had no quorum even though important business needed to be transacted: the election schedule and the subsidizing of buses to the April 24 March on Washington.
After Shelli and I had lunch, we went for a drive through Prospect Park. Back on campus, we fooled around in the new, larger Spigot office with Jerry and Stanley, trying to keep up with their witty repartee.
Hal brought three pubescent girls into the old Spigot office and locked the door behind them. There was a lot of giggling coming from there. I really feel sorry for both those girls and him. Hal can be so sick and vile sometimes, I can’t understand why some girls — like Ronna — think he’s it.
Outside, I played ball with Slade, Laura, Jon Z, Timmy and Mikey. Ivan came by as I was leaving campus; afterwards Shelli told him that I acted coldly toward him because of her telling me that he said I talked like Truman Capote.
“I made that remark a long, long time ago, right after I met Richie,” Ivan said. “I didn’t know him then. He should know I’m his friend.” Now I feel bad.
I spent the evening studying for my Russian test.
Friday, April 16, 1971
On campus this morning, everyone was discussing last night’s Oscar awards, especially George C. Scott’s refusal of his award.
Scott again thanked me and Shelli for being nice to him yesterday after he lost control of the Assembly meeting. He again apologized for yelling, and I tried to talk him out of resigning.
In the end, at least, the Assembly did vote 11-10 to support the buses for the April 24 March on Washington despite the uproar and bitterness over the lack of buses for the Soviet Jewry sit-in.
I ran to Poli Sci, where we discussed the rise of fascism in Japan. In Russian, Mr. Roberts talked about the life of Tolstoy. Art was canceled, as was Shelli’s noon class, so we made a date for lunch in the SUBO dining room.
Gary and Timmy joined us for a leisurely meal. Timmy talked about his upcoming summer trip to Europe and told us we could crash an Inter-Fraternity Council dinner as his guests (he’s vice-chairman of IFC).
Gary said his “Brooklyn College Then and Now” series is going fine. He spoke to Prof. Fitzpatrick about how the campus has changed. The professor told Gary this year’s commencement speaker would be Ramsey Clark. After lunch, we asked Robert, who’s on the commencement committee, if he could get us tickets.
Back in LaGuardia, Marty gave me an interview about his protesting President Kneller’s rehiring Dr. Whipple as SUBO director without any student input. Then Marty Markowitz came in to tell Marty and me that the Auxiliary Enterprises talks will conclude this week, with the money forthcoming.
Peter Amato and Fred Franklin went to Washington for a conference on the handicapped. Speaking of Washington, we rented two more buses, but there are no more cars or trains to be had due to overwhelming demand. Ray and Lou said Senators Javits and Muskie will be speaking at the rally on the Mall. True radicals?!
We spent time in LaGuardia lobby talking with everyone. Mark and Consuelo dropped by. Because Shelli and I were not invited to Alan Karpoff’s party tonight, she came home sad.
Making some calls about putting together a slate of candidates for the Assembly, we got a bunch of people who said they may run, like Shelli’s friend Avis and Evan and some of his friends. Elspeth said she would run as a Mugwump, too, even though she’s supporting Leon for president.
I took Shelli out to dinner in Georgetown and then we went to see Five Easy Pieces. She cried at the scene with the old man — because her grandma will die soon, she said.
Tonight we went to the People’s Peace Treaty dance and met Elspeth, Jessie and their friend Webb, and I realized Jessie’s really a nice girl. Afterwards, Shelli and I went for a drive; I do love her.
Tuesday, April 20, 1971
Another mild day. I met Elihu and Ruth on Flatbush Avenue this morning and was about to go with them to the post office when I heard Shelli calling me.
She and Elspeth had gone shopping because Joel gave them money to stock up the small refrigerator that came with the new Spigot office, and I decided to go back to LaGuardia with them.
I was wearing my red nylon hitter jacket, my white skinny-rib shirt and tennis sneakers and knew that for a change I looked good.
Carole came in to tell us that she’s unofficially engaged to Irving Itzkowitz, and then Jill arrived, looking spiffy; she, Gary and Stanley were going to Kennedy Airport later in the day to interview for one of those no-show jobs Jerry can arrange for the summer through some program in the mayor’s office.
Jill tried to convince Carole that she’s too young (only 17) and too immature to be getting married, but I doubt if any of it penetrated.
Mendy said I’ve been cross-endorsed by his new independent slate, the United Students Front — but the whole election thing is getting ridiculous. There are another couple of new parties that will split the vote even further, and Aaron’s kind of pissed that we’re friendly with Leon again. I should worry.
In Elihu’s deserted office, Shelli and I hugged and kissed for a while, and then we went to the Spigot office and found Ivan.
While Ivan exudes charm, he can be very insensitive, always remarking jokingly about Shelli’s weight. I don’t think he realizes how much it hurts her. She’s going on a diet, so she says she’ll be “ornery” the next few days.
Without an Assembly meeting, I helped with the Spigot while Shelli collected signatures for the ballot.
Elspeth said she’s having a party. She said Bill likes Jessie but he’s too old for her, and anyway, Jessie likes Kevin.
At 3 PM, we put our plan to play Cupid into motion. Shelli went to get Avis and I went to get Scott and we arranged for them to meet in front of LaGuardia. Surprisingly, since he’s usually so cocky, Scott was as nervous as anything beforehand.
But Scott and Avis seemed to hit it off well, and things went smoothly enough for us to leave them alone together and go home. I spent the rest of the day reading Japanese history, bleaching my hair, nursing a sore throat and speaking to Shelli on the phone.
She’s writing a composition about me for her English 1.2 class and is threatening to put in a paragraph describing my penis – or Willy, as she calls it. (I pointed out something she said hadn’t occurred to her: that William is her father’s given name.)
Thursday, April 22, 1971
A cool, crisp day. This morning I got off the Flatbush Avenue bus at the Junction and was about to go to the newsstand to buy Rolaids when Ivan snuck behind me and said, “Buying Rolaids?”
Everyone thinks my Rolaids addiction is funny. Scott, who works at the newsstand on weekends, said he could steal a carton of Rolaids for me without anyone knowing, but I said no.
Ivan walked with me to the campus until we met Ronna. She gave blood yesterday in the blood drive and showed us her black-and-blue arm.
They went off together, and I went to LaGuardia, where Bob said he was upset with the last issue of the Spigot and wants to talk to Mendy because the paper is getting worse.
I handed in my platform statement. It was kind of idealistic and mawkish, something I’d expect Warren to come up with. Worried about Shelli, I called her, and she said she was coming to school soon.
In English, we discussed The Assistant. Mrs. Schlissel gave me an A- on my paper on epiphanies in Call It Sleep and the other books and said that if I wrote a conclusion to it, I’d be exempt from the final.
Back in the Spigot office, I found Shelli, Juan, Bill, and Allan all working on their platform statements. Some of them sound really stupid. Shelli introduced me to her friend Stacy, who’s running with us and who seems pretty and nice. We went to lunch at the Jolly Bull Pub with her and Timmy.
I think Timmy likes Stacy, even though he’s still going with that girl Ellen and also made a date with the sister of Marc’s girlfriend Rita. He was such a chatterbox at lunch, although he did have one bit of good news to report: Scott and Avis are getting along famously. (Timmy and Scott are in the same fraternity.)
Shelli said she’s going to Washington with Bill and Warren, which is fine with me. But because I was okay with it, Shelli said it was obvious that I didn’t care that I wasn’t going to see her this weekend.
I said it was just that I didn’t want to go on the March, that it wasn’t my thing, and it had nothing to do with her. As I was about to leave for home – because I needed to go home and read Saltykov-Shchedrin’s The Golovylovs for Russian – I said, “I love you” to her, and she said, “No, you don’t.”
Elihu came over to say my platform statement was stupid and I snapped at him and walked off with tears in my eyes. Shelli caught up with me and said she was sorry and that she was wrong and she went home with me, where I cried and we made love.
I rewrote my platform statement because Elihu was probably right, and I handed the new one in tonight when we went to a meeting with Evan, Harry and two other guys who wanted me to run with the Greenback party. I decided to keep supporting Aaron.
After I dropped off Shelli off at her house, I drove Evan home. He told me Jacqui broke up with Hal because she got mad about his seeing so many other girls.
Saturday, April 24, 1971
I couldn’t sleep very well last night, as I was a bundle of nerves and nausea. At 4 AM, I dialed Shelli’s number, then hung up before the phone rang.
Soon after, I decided to call her and she was up after sleeping only a little. She needed to get up because Bill and Warren were going to pick her up so they could make the 6 AM buses to Washington.
She knew I didn’t really want her to go, but she said it would be the best thing for both of us for her to go, and I knew she was right. It’s funny: usually I am annoyed with her clinging and here I am, doing the same stupid thing myself.
Dad heard us talking that early and said, “It must be true love.” Perhaps he’s right, but maybe I’ve just made Shelli into my mother. I guess one shouldn’t search into these things too deeply.
I went back into a restless sleep and work up with a bad sore throat and a jittery stomach. In the morning, while taking a short drive, I listened to the beginnings of the March on WBAI and heard about a rally on Avenue J sponsored by Women’s Strike for Peace.
So I went there, and we marched down Coney Island Avenue carrying placards and paper doves. After it ended, I came home to watch the television coverage from Washington.
It was an enormous, peaceful demonstration — the crowd estimate was 300,000 — with good feeling and a common desire to end the senseless killing in Indochina.
Speakers were Sen. Hartke (who repeatedly led the crowd in chanting, “Out now!”), Coretta Scott King, Ralph Abernathy, Bella Abzug, and John Kerry, who is an articulate leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The vets were in D.C. all week and yesterday they threw their combat medals on the Capitol steps.
President Nixon was out of town, of course, but can it be that long before even he can see that the majority of Americans want out of Indochina now? The march was entirely peaceful and broke up in the late afternoon.
Shelli had said she’d take the first bus home, but with all that traffic she probably won’t get in till early tomorrow. I’m going to try to get to bed early, but I won’t be at ease until I’m certain my darling is all right.
Hopefully some good will come out of today’s events and we can end this stupid war.
Monday, April 26, 1971
Neil Lefkowitz was on the Flatbush Avenue bus to BC this morning with me and he talked about the SDS’s own little demonstration in Washington. There are new demonstrations planned: nonviolent civil disobedience and such.
Ray and Lou are driving a van down to D.C. on Saturday, though I think too much of that sort of thing may be counterproductive.
Elspeth wasn’t speaking to me this morning. She had a different story about what went on in Washington than Shelli did, and she was angry that we told Aaron that she was no longer supporting him. I was upset by Elspeth, but as Gary said, consider the source.
Scott and Avis had a fantastic time spending the weekend together. Each of them separately told me that they really liked the other.
In Poli Sci, we discussed the Japanese political structure and the Liberal Democratic Party, and in Russian, Prof. Roberts lectured on Saltykov-Shchedrin. After class, I met Gary, Shelli and Ivan (wearing one of his more outlandish outfits), and we had lunch in the Faculty Dining Room.
Gary said he was stoned at Fort Dix all weekend on National Guard duty, and that Kjell, now that he’s been called up for basic training with the Reserves at Camp Campbell in Kentucky, is really depressed and withdrew from school for the term today. Later, I tried to call Kjell but he wasn’t home.
Ivan was his usual conceited self; even Shelli is getting tired of his attitude. She had to give a speech today, and I walked her to class beforehand. Then Joel collared me and asked me to take minutes at the Finance Committee budget meeting.
Dean Archie MacGregor spoke for the Office of Student Activities; Larry Eisenberg for Kingsman; Fred Horowitz for WBCR; and Bob for Student Government.
Joel and Bob are trying to eliminate the chaos of last term, but whenever you’re dealing with allocating this much money, you’re in trouble.
I couldn’t find Shelli after the meeting, so after I talked with Mason and Mikey, who are wavering in their support of Leon, I went home to do some schoolwork.
Shelli called later, saying she’d spent a miserable afternoon with a talkative Timmy to get campaign leaflets from the printer in Williamsburg. After she came over, we took a drive to Rockaway.
Back in my bedroom, we almost went all the way tonight, but she cried out in pain when I thrusted too deeply. It was still “the best thing we’ve done,” she said, and I agreed.
She’s teasing me by saying she has a crush on Evan now.
Thursday, April 29, 1971
A dark and drizzly day. Mom drove me to Kings Plaza this morning on her way to the store, and I took the bus from there to school.
Yesterday I ran into Norman on campus, and today I saw Bobby Cohen, and both of them said business in the store is very bad. The Pants Set is in real trouble. Now that they’ve bought out Uncle Marty and given his share to Lennie, I don’t know what they have planned to save the business. Dad’s very aggravated.
Voting in the student government election began in earnest today. The Alignment is going to win; those fascists have the yarmulke vote, and at Brooklyn College, what else counts? Elspeth, Evan, Shelli, Casey, Allan and I went out leafleting and pulling people into voting booths. It’s so degrading to have to ask people to vote for you.
Mrs. Schlissel was out sick today. Phil told me that Harold’s in the hospital with rheumatic fever, and that’s shot Harold’s campaign for vice president to pieces.
Alice said her mother was all right after the surgery. She voted for me, as did a lot of my friends. Perhaps, because I’m running on the Upper Slate this time, I may have a chance to win. But I’m not banking on it.
Tired, Shelli and I went for lunch in the SUBO Dining Room. Dr. Whipple was having a lunch for the students in SO-FED-UP, trying to tell them the Student Center will be fixed to accommodate the handicapped better. Aaron and Pam were there, and Fred Franklin has thrown SO-FED-UP’s support to their campaign. During lunch, we said hello to our friends at nearby tables: Dick Wright, Dr. Stone, Timmy and Esther.
To help the campaign, we put in an appearance at an Israeli Club get-together, talked with Stacy and some other people, and attended a ridiculous Election Commission hearing Carole convened to look into complaints and counter-complaints.
We left campus with Larry and Karen, who were going to the printers in Williamsburg; tomorrow Kingsman will come out with an endorsement, most likely of Harvey and Linda and the whole Alignment slate.
Shelli and I went to Kings Plaza and talked with Merryl in the store about business being lousy. Then we came home to bed. I entered her vagina, but she’s afraid to let me break her hymen. My beautiful baby is scared; I was too, for a minute, when I had to withdraw before I ejaculated.
Afterwards we had a quiet dinner at the Windsor Deli and I drove her home through a pouring rain. Shelli is so wonderful, so kind, so beautiful — but she’s also confused and irresponsible.