Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, July 16, 2016

MVNews this week:  Page B:4

Susan Henderson 
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What’s on YOUR Mind? 

DICK Polman 

IS NOT 1968 

The latest fad, propagated by many members of the 

commentariat, is to equate the America of 2016 with the

America of 1968. I heard it more recently from Chuck Todd

of NBC News: “Not since the summers of the ‘60s and violence 

in Watts, Detroit, and Chicago has the nation felt so hopelessly


This meme is particularly popular among those who have no living memories of 1968.
Todd, in fact, was not on this earth in 1968. But I myself was very much alive — as ahigh school kid who paid close attention to the news — and if it’s any comfort to those ofyou who are freaked about the latest race-based events, I can state with a high degree ofconfidence that America was far, far worse in 1968. 

That year, the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader bled out on a motel balconyafter his jaw was shattered by a racist’s bullet that traveled at a velocity of 2,670 feet persecond. Just two months later, a major presidential candidate got whacked in a hotelkitchen moments after winning a pivotal primary. In the time between the King andKennedy assassinations, huge swaths of our nation’s capital went up in flames.

Twelve people died in the D.C. riots, and 1,600 were injured. And the death toll washigher in the two most serious riots that raged a year earlier — in Detroit (43 dead, morethan 1,000 injured) and in Newark (27 dead, roughly 1,000 injured). Chuck Todd alsomentioned Watts, the L.A. neighborhood that burned in 1965, but the toll there — 34dead, another 1,000 injured — was far more dire than any of the disturbances today. The

U.S. Army was sent to Detroit as well. Imagine the hysteria today, fanned by social mediaand the 24/7 cable cycle, if the U.S. Army was fighting in our streets.
Todd also mentioned “Chicago.” Presumably this was a reference to the street violenceoutside the Democratic Convention, where Mayor Richard Daley’s cops clashed with kidsprotesting the Vietnam War.

It’s almost an insult, to those of us who experienced 1968, to equate it with 2016.
According to the official stats, 16,592 Americans died that year alone in Vietnam. Anaverage of 45 guys each day. Imagine if that was happening now — 45 a day in a futile war

— with millions of kids at home fearing the draft.
Obviously, I’m not trying to minimize our current civil unrest. But we should be ableto console ourselves with the knowledge that 1968 was more horrific by every objectivemeasure — even the homicide rate was markedly higher (6.9 per 100,000 Americans)
than it is now (4.5 per 100,000, in 2014) — and that somehow we as a nation survived.
Heck, today we have black police chiefs (thankfully, including Dallas), whereas, back then,
big-city departments were overwhelmingly white. And today, the electorate is far moreenlightened about race; according to a 2014 CNN-ORC poll, 51 percent of Americans saidthat blacks are treated unfairly by the criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, we also have a presidential nominee who has romanced aggrieved whitepeople like nobody since George Wallace — in the campaign of 1968. The good news isthat not even Trump dares to traffic in the kind of hate rhetoric that Wallace employed in1968 (“the nigra would still be in Africa in the brush if the white people of this countryhad not raised their standards”). On the other hand, Wallace never got near a major partynomination. Leave it to the Trump Republicans to keep Wallace’s spirit alive, albeit semi-

But lest we forget, we have prominent voices eloquently urging calm. Republican HouseSpeaker Paul Ryan, for instance: “This has been a long week for our country .... Everymember of this [House], every Republican and every Democrat, wants to see less gunviolence. Every member of this body wants a world in which people feel safe regardless ofthe color of their skin .... Sometimes we disagree on how to get there. But let’s not lose sightof the values that unite us. Let’s not lose sight of our common humanity.” 

Those shared values helped us survive the nadir of 1968. I can’t help but believe that thistime should be easier. 

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia( and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania.
Email him at 

TOM Purcell 

Here’s something I miss more each summer: the drive-in 
movie theater. 

It’s a uniquely American creation, after all. 

According to Kerry Segrave, author of “Drive-in Theaters: 
A History from Their Inception in 1933,” only two other 
countries, Canada and Australia, were able to come close to 
America’s “intense love affair with drive-ins.” 

In order for drive-ins to spring up over America during the post-World War II 
boom, a unique blend of conditions had to exist. 

First, there had to be an abundance of relatively inexpensive land, as drive-ins 
take up a lot of real estate — and America had lots of affordable farmland near our 
newly formed suburbs. 

Second, there had to be wealth. Families needed to not only be able to afford 
comfortable automobiles but to also “enjoy an emotional relationship” with them. 

“A country whose inhabitants regarded automobiles as simply a mode of 
convenience to get from A to B would never develop a drive-in industry of any 
extent,” writes Segal. 

The next ingredient necessary to the success of the drive-in theater was large 
baby boom families. 

Whereas taking the kids to an indoor theater in the city was a costly hassle, the 
drive-in was convenient and affordable. Parents could load all of the kids into the 
car, enjoy their family theater event, then return home with minimal hassle. 

At a time when mom and dad wore formal wear to the office every day, the last 
thing they wanted to do on the weekends was dress up — and the younger kids 
could be dressed in pajamas, allowing mom and dad to put them directly to bed as 
soon as they returned home. 

The first large-scale drive-in movie theater was built in Camden, N.J. in 1933, the 
brainchild of a young entrepreneur, Richard Hollingshead. 

His idea wouldn’t catch on in big numbers until after World War II — in part 
because of Hollywood moguls who only screened their A features in the movie 
theaters they owned. Drive-in theaters were limited to B features until 1949 when 
the courts broke up Hollywood’s monopoly system. 

Another change happened in 1949. Hollingshead lost his patent on the drive-in 
movie concept and outdoor theaters began popping up everywhere. The ‘50s and 
‘60s became the golden era of the drive-in theater with nearly 5,000 in operation 
across America. 

Some argue that federal laws mandating an extended Daylight Saving Time in 
the early ‘70s — which made the shows start an hour later — is what began to kill 
the drive-in phenomenon. But there are lots of other reasons for its decline. 

As the suburbs continued expanding, real estate costs soared. Increasing lawsuits 
eliminated the drive-in playground and insurance costs soared. The family unit 
began to change in the late ‘70s into the ‘80s — families had fewer children and lots 
more divorce. Increasing fuel costs caused cars to get smaller — making them less 
suitable to a comfortable drive-in experience. 

One of my last great drive-in memories dates to 1969, when my parents took my 
five sisters and I to see “Herbie the Love Bug.” My father tested several parking spots 
before finding a speaker that worked. 

Soon, the blue sky fell dark and the film projector began rattling behind the 
concession stand. Black and white numbers — “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…” — flashed onto 
the screen. Yellowed 1950’s footage advertised hot dogs, popcorn and other 
concession items. And then the feature film would begin and our eventful family 
outing kicked into high gear. 

So I am nostalgic for the golden era of the American drive-in, a historic slice of 
Americana that I long for this time every year. 

©2015 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s 
Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery novel, 
both available at Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor 

JOHN L. Micek 


A couple of years back, when I was driving down to Florida, I gotpulled over on U.S. Route 41 in a little town called Waldo nearGainesville. 

It was late - past 2 a.m. -- and I was pretty sure I wasn’t speeding.
So when the dome lights of an Alachua County cruiser flashed togarish life in my rearview mirror, I had no idea what was happening.

As it turned out, not only was I speeding, I was clocking in around 55 mph in a 35 mphzone. I was befuddled and polite. So, taking pity on the exhausted Yankee, even as heslapped me with a wince-inducing fine, the deputy gave me an alternate route to Interstate75 so I could avoid his ticket-writing brethren.

Not once did I worry that I wouldn’t come out of the encounter alive. Not once did I fearfor my safety.

Then again, I’m a white guy in my 40s.

Now consider the experiences of two of my PennLive colleagues, Jamar Thrasher andRhonda Mays, both of whom are black, that are the complete opposite of my own.

Thrasher found himself at the business end of a patrol officer’s service weapon when hetried to report a tutu-wearing lost dog that he’d found on a Pittsburgh street.

Thrasher, in a peacoat and dress clothes, had his hands in his pockets on a cold Januarynight - which made the young, white officer he talked to a tad jumpy.

“I tried reporting [the incident]. I called 911, but they said I had approached a policeofficer with my hands in my pockets,” he recalled. “I thought I was being a good citizen.
This interaction made me more cautious when interacting with law enforcement.” 

Mays said she found herself frequently stopped for phantom car problems when she wasliving and working in Washington D.C. and its suburbs.

“I was repeatedly pulled over, usually for something like ‘You have a burned out taillight,’” she said. “That reason is particularly frustrating because there is no way to provethe reason is true or not at the time. I had even had the tail light checked by a mechanic tomake sure it wasn’t going off and on, and found it was fine.” 

The experiences, she said, which sometimes involved her sitting on the curb with herhands behind her back, were “very humiliating,” she said.

“One wrong move, such as not laying completely still, not placing both hands on thesteering wheel as soon as the stop ensues or reaching in a glove compartment or jacketpocket for I.D. could be the end of your life,” Mays said. “Most of us in the [African-
American] community recognize these realities.” 

I don’t know what that’s like. I likely never will. So when I hear people (always white)
say, “Well, it never would have happened if he’d just obeyed police commands,” it just ringshollow, especially after what happened last week in Baton Rouge and St. Paul.

“I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know how to allow myself to feel grief andoutrage while also thinking about change,” Roxane Gay wrote in The New York Times lastweek. “I don’t know how to believe change is possible when there is so much evidence tothe contrary. I don’t know how to feel that my life matters when there is so much evidenceto the contrary.” 

And I don’t know how that kind of desperation feels when there’s a new headline,
seemingly every few weeks, about a black a person whose run-in with a police officer turnsfatal. 

I never will. And if you’re white and reading this, you probably never will either.
In June, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in heart-rending terms, aboutwhat it’s like to be a person of color and to deal with law enforcement.

“We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are‘isolated,’” she wrote. “They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal,
warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize thatunlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until theirvoices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.” 

And that’s why we need to listen - harder than ever now. 
An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political 

Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow himon Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at 

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