The Old Republic

Signs and Portents

I can’t recall where I first encountered them.  It must have been in one of the rundown bars, like Clarence’s or The Shack, in the redneck section of Chapel Hill.  Let’s call them Larry and John.  I was one of a handful of notorious hard-core reactionaries in the student body, and they were among the most radical of the radicals.  It was the 60’s, and radical was fashionable, but they were over on the far-left margin beyond what was In.  Our barroom discussions were loud, long, and sometimes even interesting.  John came from somewhere up north and probably had communists in his family.  One of his favorite pastimes was driving around at night and defacing church signs with obscenities.  Larry was more serious.  He came from an apparently respectable North Carolina family.  It was said, and I never knew if this was true, that he had turned radical after failing to get into West Point.  The last I knew of John was a grainy news photo of a group of American students who had gone to Cuba to help Castro harvest his sugar cane.  Larry had some stature in the radical circuit, and I heard of him from time to time.  The last was when he and his wife were slaughtered in a shootout between rival factions in the Black Panther headquarters in New York.

When we first came to Columbia in 1971, we rented from her.  She was a...

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