Monday, March 5, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 11: Ted Gold Dave Gilbert: Roommates, 1967

Chapter 11: Ted Gold and Dave Gilbert: Roommates, 1967 (i)

In late August and early September, Ted and I walked along Claremont Ave., ringing bells of superintendents and asking if there were any vacant apartments in the buildings. We didn’t find any vacancies.

Ted did not yet wish to move in with Trude. So Ted, Dave and I continued to search for a vacant 3-bedroom apartment, and it was a difficult task. Dave and Ted found a reasonably-priced apartment eventually and paid money to a broker on W. 72nd St. and Broadway to reserve the right to rent the apartment. But the broker played some kind of “bait and switch” game with Dave and Ted. The apartment suddenly became unavailable, and Dave and Ted lost $600 in broker’s fees, until they could win a court judgment against the broker.

In mid-September, with the help of Columbia’s Off-Campus Housing Office, Ted, Dave and I finally managed to find a run-down, vacant, 3-bedroom apartment on W. 94th St. Our landlady was a woman in her late 50s named Mrs. Grossman.

Ted and I dropped by the W. 93rd St. apartment of Ted’s parents, to pick up some of Ted’s extra books and records that he wished to drop off at our apartment. When I examined Ted’s bookcase there, it was interesting to notice that he had back-issues of the now-defunct muckraking Ramparts magazine from the early 1960s. I thumbed through some of these early issues, while Ted figured out which of his extra books and records to gather up.

I also noticed that Ted had a copy of Fleming’s The Origins of the Cold War, which argued that the Soviet Union wasn’t responsible for starting the Cold War after World War II. When Ted noticed that I was glancing at Fleming’s book, he smiled and said: “You know Fleming isn’t even a Marxist, but just a fairly conservative historian. Yet even he admits that the United States government was responsible for starting the Cold War.”

The apartment of Ted’s parents was furnished much like the apartments of those right-wing relatives of mine who owned small businesses or were accountants or insurance salesmen. Ted’s younger brother happened to be in the apartment and Ted said hello to him. But they exchanged few other words, before his brother went into his own room.

“He’s a good kid. But he’s not interested in radical politics at all,” Ted said with a shrug, as we walked back to our new apartment, carrying boxes of records and books. Trude then arrived at our new apartment a short while later, and the three of us walked across Broadway and up one block to W. 95th St. to the Thalia revival film house to see Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

I visited the apartment of Ted’s parents a few more times that month, including one time during the evening. At this time, his mother was sitting with a group of three or four women friends or women relatives—who all appeared to be in their late 40s or early 50s—and they were chatting when we walked in. Everybody said hello to Ted with fondness in their voices when we entered the apartment for a few moments. But then the women quickly resumed their conversation, as we picked up more of Ted’s things and quietly left the apartment.

Around this time, I asked Ted how his parents first indicated to him that the United States was an imperialist society.

“My father explained to me how oil company interests determined U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East,” Ted replied.

After most of Ted’s stuff was moved into the apartment, his father came over on a Sunday afternoon with Ted and me, and he looked over the apartment. Ted and his father seemed to relate to each other as much in a brotherly way as in a father-son way. Ted’s father thought the apartment was over-priced, but he didn’t express any disapproval at Ted for moving from the dorms into his own apartment. Although Ted’s father was a doctor, on Sundays he dressed casually. He seemed youngish in his physical appearance and was a Maoist, but he wasn’t interested in having any extended political discussion with me and Ted at the apartment. He was just interested in checking out his son’s new living quarters.

One evening in mid-September, Ted drove his father’s car out to my parents’ apartment to help me move my guitar, some suitcases of clothes and some books into our new apartment. After loading my stuff in the trunk of his father’s car, Ted drove north towards the Whitestone Bridge, over the bridge and then across the Cross Bronx Expressway towards Upper Manhattan. A thunderstorm began as we approached Manhattan. The rain had stopped and the sky was clearing up, however, by the time we reached our apartment.