A group of well over 200 kids who grew up in the very tight-knit Claremont-Elmwood neighborhood in Berkeley during the 60’s have converged in the digital age and are having the most amazing and enjoyable dialog on Facebook! It’s so immersive that quite a few of us are probably not dedicating our full attention to our jobs these days… and we’ve even seriously discussed meeting in person later this summer – possibly here, at the Claremont Hotel, where many of our shared neighborhood memories take place:
In an effort to find memorabilia from those days, I ventured into our garage this morning, climbing over crates and digging deep into bins, where I finally found my diary from 6th grade. There was plenty in there to make me giggle (my god, was I boy crazy at the young age of 12!), but THIS really gave me pause from a much more worldly perspective. When I noticed the date of the entry, 42 years ago yesterday, I couldn’t help but let out a quiet gasp…
“Thursday, May 15, 1969 (Very important): Dear Diary, About 2 months ago the hippies around Telegraph (Avenue) built a park for themself's (sic). They got some of the Universities (sic) land and started building swings sets, a pool, a fish pool, and a lawn. They were almost done about 2 weeks ago. A lot of people came a gave money for materials. They worked for their park. Then today the police came and put a fence around it 'cause it wasn't their property. There was a huge riot and more than 100 people were hurt. Even the National Gard (sic) came! I don't like Berkeley anymore. Carol"
I remember those tumultuous years in Berkeley so well and they absolutely shaped who I have become (even though we moved away by the next summer). I had no idea in 1969 how unique the energy in Berkeley really was, thinking that the whole world did things like collectively observe a monthly moratorium in protest of the Vietnam War by basically shutting down an entire city. How wrong I was!