I say ‘our” only in the sense that it was our high school; I had nothing to do with the underground paper, though.
I have written previously about the school newspaper I wrote for at Zweibrücken American High School, located on the US Air Force base of the same name (1971-72). Not everyone thought The Paper - hey, we thought it was a brilliant name for a newspaper at the time - was as good as it could be. This is a lesson I have taken to heart from every paper I have worked over the years; no matter how hard you work, or how good you think you are, there’s always going to be somebody who says you are doing a lousy job.
And so it came about that anonymous students in our high school published the infamous underground newspaper in the spring of 1972.
Not to blow our own horns (Oh, why not?) but we were the only uncensored school newspaper in the military schools system at the time, something a lot of stateside schools didn’t even enjoy. We felt that some of the reporting in The Paper had been highly critical of the school administration at times.
Even so . . .
In the spring of 1972 everyone began talking about the underground paper that was making the rounds. Honestly, I don’t recall a lot a lot about it, exccept for the fact that that the words “c___ s______, m______ f______ and g_____” were tossed around a lot in the issue.
Readers of this blog know that I am not particularly shy about dropping the interesting word in here or there, but I see no reason to make the folks at Arkansas Times suspect I may have overdosed on five-hour energy drinks.
While I have copies of the school paper, I don’t have any copies of this; I only keep copies of stuff that I write in. I wish I had now, though. Somebody should grab you in high school and say, “You never know when you might need this for reference material, kid.”
School administration officials were swift to grab up as many copies of the paper as they could, lest too many young minds be corrupted. Even more than that, a meeting was called for.
You know the kind.
They needed somebody of a student-sort to make it seem official. The vice-principal and my journalism instructor decided that I would be the perfect one to attend. I not only wrote for the school paper (all right, mostly humor) but also wrote for the base newspaper through the work-study program, making me a sort of “serious journalist,” I suppose.
It didn’t take long to figure out another reason that I was there.
Nobody else wanted to go to the damn thing.
I was there to sort of defend the school paper, to say, hey, we’re doing a good job, whatever. It just seemed sort of lame. I expected to walk into this room full of irate, raving adults, running around and waving their arms around like the Martian in the farmhouse. And really, I suppose, this was what the creators of the underground paper had hoped for - official condemnation.
Little did I realize how insidious the counterculture was.
I knew how liberal I was, but these parents? These officers? They thought this thing was the greatest thing since sliced bread. What a wonderful, creative outlet or young people, they felt, especially those who had strong political feelings.
From the amount of enthusiasm on display, you would they think they would have all volunteered to work on the next issue, if they could.
It was just sort of bizarre. You couldn’t help but think they had all been watching The Mod Squad a little too much.
There is a small part of me which thinks that if the creators of the one-issue paper had attended the meeting that day, their view of the universe would have been turned way upside down.
Quote of the Day
One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. We must not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only remember that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer. We must forget that George Washington was a slave owner . . . and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth. - W.E.B. Du Bois