I read the Spring 2019 “Echoes of 1969” issue of Triton magazine this past weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every single article and detail in this issue. The magazine covered a compelling and fascinating subject matter that every current and past Triton student should know about. I can’t believe how much history related to resistance, protesting and activism took place right here in La Jolla on campus.
I’m sharing details about this issue and its importance with my fellow alumni and staff alumni friends.
Eric Johnson ’16
Indeed, Angela Davis is well known. Aside from the single sentence glossing over her involvement in the Marin courthouse case, she had other associations not mentioned. Her membership in the Communist Party, and her membership in the Black Panthers, for example.
She is referred to as a “prominent thought leader,” standing among “luminaries,” and “mobilizing for social justice.”
Yet, the record of the groups she associated with show no real social justice achievements at all. Just misery.
I really enjoyed the article about the Che Café. However, the origins of live music at the Che were incomplete. According to your article, Mathew Rothenberg formed the Musicians Club in 1985. In reality, he either took it over, or resuscitated it. It was not 1985, but 1982, when live music came to the Che.
I vividly remember the day fellow student Phil Detchmendy ’84 and I went to the Che to seek permission from the head of the co-op to use the Che for a live music event featuring two student bands. Since the Che was mostly about food back then, we pitched the fact that they could sell food at our events and more students would know about the Che and perhaps come back to eat during the week. That’s how we got the buy-in for “Thursdays at the Che,” which even with a $1 entry was successful beyond what we could have ever imagined.
Thanks for bringing back the memories. Those were great days.
Reed Pederson ’85
Read the full comment with notes on bands of the times, like the NoNames, Amazons and others at tritonmag.com/chestories
I’ve read your articles about the Che Café and Groundwork books. I was a member of the recycling cooperative in the mid-’80s and often coordinated pick up of newsprint, glass, computer paper, telephone books, etc. At the time, recycling wasn’t as mainstream as it is today. On a few occasions, we tried to engage the campus administration to include recycling as part of their overall waste management program, but we often received a lot of pushback. For example, during the construction of the Price Center we tried to get a cardboard compactor for the loading dock, but that was turned down. Cardboard is a significant part of the waste stream.
Work in the Recycling Co-op was a lot of manual labor done by students in their free time. However, to make up for the hard work, we often sponsored hiking and camping trips and environmental awareness activities. One nice benefit of being a co-op member was that during our weekly evening meetings at the Che Café, the members would receive a meal paid for by the proceeds from the sale of the recycling materials.
Howie Reese, PhD ’89
The day George Winne set himself on fire, we were in shock and talked of little else. At the hastily organized meeting that evening, with hundreds of other students, I hoped to learn more about George Winne but was horrified by speaker after speaker taking the stage to talk about the need to mobilize immediately and act while we had momentum and the nation’s attention—nothing about George Winne, his life or his sacrifice. I was relieved when, finally, Campus Minister Lesley Atkinson took the stage and implored the audience to remember George’s life and wait until after his certain death before using the tragedy to mobilize for political purposes. I’ve tried to remember Atkinson’s example of honoring those lost to tragedy before using them to advance our own agendas.
Randy Richardson ’72
I was a first-year graduate student in physics, crossing Revelle Plaza on my way to the student office complex. It was a Sunday and not many people were in the plaza. I arrived just after the flames had been extinguished. The badly burned young man was yelling at the police, something like, “Kill me! Kill me!” I was angry at him for the futility of his act and for the pain he caused his family.
James Raymond, MS ’71, PhD ’76
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
College is most always a pivotal experience in life—embarking from home; freedom to develop, explore, fail and find passion.
For those of us at UCSD in 1969, the experience was complicated by the sadness of coming to question our country and the resulting estrangement from our parents’ generation.
Your article about George Winne reopened agony long asleep—the profound dejection and confusion I felt those 50 years ago that yet another life had been wasted, and that I was powerless to help.
Perhaps we weren’t as powerless as we felt.
Perhaps even those of us who weren’t militant activists or leaders have effected change in at least our local worlds by letting the sad awareness born during those difficult times blossom from us in lives and deeds colored with compassion.
All of us who have attended UCSD are among the luckiest of people in the world, residing for a while in an unmatched citadel of learning above the sea, from which the world opens in every direction.
May we honor the opportunity well, no matter the trials of our particular time.
Marie Eisen Davis ’71
I received my issue of Triton’s “Echoes of 1969”—to be honest, I expected “fluff.” Instead, you captured the spirit of the first five years of UCSD: the controversy, the excitement, the challenging thought and debate. Thanks for a great job on bringing those early years back to life.
Greg Goodwyn ’69
In 1975, the Anti-CIA Coalition was formed on campus, when the student body learned that the CIA was recruiting women, blacks and Chicanos (using the terms from that era) at UCSD. This was right after Senator Frank Church’s Select Committee investigated and revealed excesses of the CIA, including assassination plots against national leaders.
An angry crowd with picket signs gathered in November to confront UC President David Saxon right outside the gym. They were chanting “CIA off campus!” and “Here they recruit! Abroad they shoot!” The students questioned Saxon and he was evasive at first. Then someone yelled, “Are you going to get the CIA off this campus?” Saxon replied, “No, I refuse!” A near riot followed. Ten students were later subjected to disciplinary charges.
In 1976–77, there was another coalition to pressure UC/UCSD to divest from companies doing business with South Africa, to protest apartheid. This second coalition had major internal tensions between two factions: the independent leftists—including members of Groundwork Books—against the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA).
In one incident, the YSA tried to divert members of the other group in a different direction during a protest march on campus, claiming the other group was going to “trash” an administrative office. The other side denied there was such a plan. Each side made accusations against each other and the YSA was eventually kicked out. A number of African-American students also left, disgusted with the conflict.
John D. Wagner ’77
Thank you for the piece about George Winne and the reprint of Roger DeLaix’s 1970 memorial. I was a little acquainted with George, and thought that if his family or friends were still around, they might like to know that someone remembers him.
I had known George for some time because he and I, like many others, spent long hours at Harold Darling’s Unicorn art cinema and bookstore in La Jolla. I remember George had a distinctive, lugubrious speaking style. He was not stylish in the disheveled manner of the era, presenting himself tidily enough to be misperceived as an engineering student or the like. I think we hangers-on at the bookstore perceived him as a bit of an odd duck—overly earnest, or perhaps a bit depressed—but he was alert to irony and able to laugh. We’d all have long discussions together when the store wasn’t too busy. I was quite active with various anti-war efforts at UCSD, and don’t recall George taking part. But we were young and upset in an upsetting moment; things felt cataclysmic and our inability to alter the nation’s disastrous course so frustrating. I remember George as smart, intellectually curious, but extremely pessimistic. He was a familiar figure at the bookstore, part of the casual nighttime scene.
On the morning of May 10, I crossed the quad just after George had been taken to the hospital, and saw ashes lying on the pavers. I was entirely shocked to learn he had taken so drastic an action. It remains an indelible memory. And for decades I have felt guilty that I did not try to get to know George better in those bookstore evenings.
Naomi Schiff ’70