On My Way To Washington D.C. ’69
The next morning I boarded a bus for Detroit. The gloomy morning turned into a gloomy day and pulling into the city didn’t help matters any. Detroit was bad enough all by itself, but on a dreary day, when you had to hitchhike out of the city, it was anything but a cheerful place. I could feel myself falling into depression, but I fought it back. Inside the bus station, I rented a footlocker, stashed my gear and then started asking people how to get to Washington D. C. On the eve of the big demonstration, I received looks from people that even made me laugh. Finally, I got
directions, and luckily I managed to get on the right expressway.
Three hours later, I found myself standing in cold, wet, snow,
waiting for a ride just north of the Ohio state line.
The temperature had dropped twenty degrees and the cold, gloomy day was fast turning into a cold, black night. I was beginning to think the whole Washington D.C. thing would have been a lot more fun if only I would have watched it back on the Toronto TV screen. Just when things were looking their worst, a car pulled over and I thought “Hurray, at least I’ve got a ride to a warm gas station.” I was thunderstruck when the dude in the car responded to my question, “Where are you heading?” with the reply, “Washington D.C.” The three male schoolteachers who occupied the car, were on their way to participate in the D.C. Moratorium and when they found out I was doing the same thing, they invited me to ride along with them. Going from a fear of freezing to death to a ride all the way to Washington D.C.– and back, left me totally speechless. I was told later however, that I had an affirmative smile on my face.
I’ve been lucky with rides before, but this ride was too good to be
true. Not only did these guys offer me transportation, they had
enough beer and sandwiches in the car to feed an army. It was a
picnic all the way to D.C., except for the snowstorm we ran into
while crossing the mountains. By that time though, I was to drunk to notice. When we arrived in Georgetown, a little town outside D.C., it was four in the morning, but it looked like New Years Eve. By staying open all night, the merchants were capitalizing on the
influx of spenders. We were all tired, and in my case not feeling
too well, so getting a place to crash became top priority. A large
church was set aside to house the Michigan delegation, but when we arrived we found the arrangements were sorely inadequate. Instead, we ended up crashing in the lobby of a George Washington University dormitory. I was told later that Michigan was well represented at the rally, it was estimated that over 80,000 Michiganders were in attendance.
At the Capital, in the morning, everything seemed well organized.
There were pigs around, but it was mostly students wearing black
armbands who handled the crowds. It was a real rosy cheek day, or some might say it was colder than a bitch. Spirits were high
however; students were everywhere, in every alleyway and behind every door. If I ever felt like I belonged anywhere, I felt like I belonged there, as a member of that crowd, contributing to the people power that was all around me. I was overwhelmed by
the “strength of will;” I could feel it, everybody could. The
establishment was being put on notice, I was sure of it.