Leaving Dixie – Before and After

Sitting on the lake dockI went to high school in a tiny central Florida town about 6 miles from the Citrus Tower. We lived in a renovated chicken barn, hideously ugly, 5 miles out of town on one of the many lakes, a smaller one. It was big enough, however, for me to row out to the middle of the lake from this dock, with a book and an apple, and stay there until the mosquitoes drove me back inside or my mother began honking the car horn insistently. The lake was also great for swimming and water skiing, small boat, nothing fancy. And, it was once the scene of three teenage girls on the side of the boat away from the house and toward the uninhabited side of the lake, daring each other into skinny-dipping at my 15th birthday party.

Growing a beardI coaxed my future husband into growing a beard for me and ceasing all fraternity activity, though I don’t know if he ever actually quit. He is pictured here with his back to the houses across the street from our apt. near U of Penn. These are student apts., so that’s what he was talking about when, after we came to California and I was pulling to live in Berkeley, he said he was sick of student apts. He was at this time a student at the Wharton School of Business, got a job as a claims adjuster for a major insurance company when we got to Oakland and later became a successful Marin County family law attorney. We remain friends.

Below are some before and after pictures.  Before, I’m entertaining my mother’s Sunday School class, none of whom I knew, who have thrown me a wedding shower. Lakeland, Florida, Dec. 1962. After, I’m entertaining myself seven years later in Berkeley. One might ask before and after what? Before Berkeley and after everything that happened to me there. About a year after the “After” picture, I dropped out.

Guitar in Sunday SchoolGuitar in hand

I was arrested in the FSM just before I left my husband, when I had been accepted to UC for the next semester but was still a student at Oakland City College (later Merritt College). His reaction did not necessarily end the marriage, since I had already resolved to leave, but had he reacted differently, it is possible I might have reconsidered. Soon after I got to Berkeley, I met a city planning grad student, who was more or less my boyfriend for two and a half years. The more or less means mostly him, but there were no promises made. He was my companion during the Vietnam War demonstrations.

His apartment was diagonally across the intersection from the house housing the Vietnam Day Committee office and I sometimes went straight there after I had been in the VDC office, donating menial labor. I was in his apartment fifteen minutes after leaving the office one day, when I heard a loud noise and saw smoke coming out of the back of the house the office was in. He ran over to see what was up and was told a bomb had gone off in the back room where I had just been stuffing envelopes. I’ve never since heard anything about that incident, but it certainly caused me to lose some sleep at the time and did nothing to assuage my general attitude of fear.

Sailing the San Francisco BayMy boyfriend had an arrangement with one of his profs by which he could take the prof’s sailboat out on the bay if he and others agreed to maintain it. So, there were a number of days on San Francisco Bay during which I learned just enough about sailing to regret never getting to go sailing after that. We also did an enormous amount of traipsing around San Francisco exploring. He had some money to spend at the time from a super scholarship of some kind. He was a bit of a genius, already had an M.A. in Physics from Yale before he started on his M.A. in City Planning at Berkeley.

This picture is me in our borrowed boat on San Francisco Bay, eyeballing the sail, looking deceptively like I know what I’m doing. I sort of kept the sailing on the lowdown vis a vis political friends, since it is generally associated with rich people in the public mind and my friends liked to think they were socialists. I realize now just how ridiculous that was, given that all my political friends were from families, oh, so very much richer than mine, that the boat was borrowed, that because of my fisherperson father and his little dinky motorboat, boats and water were as close as I could then get to home whereas my political friends could and did go home at any time and that for me it was all about aesthetics, not status.

Marin side of the San Francisco BayThe lower picture was taken on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge, with San Francisco in the background. It is me and my boyfriend, Gale (great name for a sailor) on a really good day.

Below, me and my husband, John Ibo, whom I met through a good friend who worked at the museum with me. Her ex lived next door to him in Oakland and was dating his niece. My friend and her ex set us up and we double-dated with the ex and the niece for our first date. I remember that we all went to San Francisco to see Stokeley Carmichael speak and that the ex and I were the only two white people in a room full of several hundred black people. John claims that was our second date. In any case, after our first date, we were pretty much together from then on for the next six years. He was my companion and protector through the very worst part of the Berkeley conflicts. We spent a lot of time on the weekends at the Fillmore, listening to the bands and as weekend hippies at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco and Provo Park, Berkeley.

I am wearing the coat I like to call my “coat of many colors”, which I made soon after arriving in Berkeley. He is wearing a Dr. Zhivago shirt I talked him into, one of only three sixties-style items he owned and ever would wear. I am responsible for the Afro. We are at a daytime outside party with friends.


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