Around the time I met Ted, I found myself feeling drawn to Beth. Beth worked as a student volunteer group leader in P.A.C.T. on the same afternoon that Nancy, Harry and I did. She was a senior at Barnard and was a dark-haired beauty. She was less socially-concerned and politically radical than Pat had been, but she had a gentle, tender, sweet, soft-spoken personality. Beth was majoring in Philosophy and her father was some administrator or doctor in the mental health field.
Near the end of October 1966, P.A.C.T. held a party in Juan’s W. 104th St. apartment which was attended by about fifty Barnard and Columbia students who came in and out of the apartment during the night. There was much dancing to '60s rock music in the living room and much talking, laughing, beer drinking, wine-drinking and liquor-drinking around the people who danced. In a second room, there was pot-smoking. And in a third room, there were Columbia men making out with Barnard women.
About an hour after I arrived, I noticed Nancy appearing at the party accompanied by a thin, taller guy with a mustache and longish hair. He reminded me somewhat of Errol Flynn in the Adventures of Robin Hood movie. He was dressed in a hip bohemian kind of way. I vaguely recalled having seen him around the ICV table during my freshman year. In the apartment, Nancy put her arm around her new boyfriend. They then spoke with some people at the party and both laughed.
Nancy had met her new boyfriend during a campus “Fast For Peace in Viet Nam” which he had organized earlier in the month. His name was Teddy.
Teddy was from a Jewish working-class section of Brooklyn. His parents were European-born communists who had survived imprisonment in the World War II concentration camps, and settled in the U.S. after the war. He also had a younger sister. In the 1960s, Teddy was totally assimilationist in his philosophy and rejected a Jewish cultural nationalist or Jewish religious self-identification.
Teddy had gone to Stuyvesant High School at the same time Ted had and, in the early 1960s high school student peace movement in New York City, Teddy had been active. In high school, Teddy had been more grade-oriented and more popular with his teachers than the more affluent Ted had been. He was ranked 6th—ahead of Ted—in their graduating class at Stuyvesant.
As a Columbia freshman during the 1964-65 academic year, Teddy had spent his first term studying heavily in order to prove to himself that he could get high marks at Columbia, and he did get high marks. The next term, however, Teddy devoted himself more to anti-war activism, independent reading and love relationships. He became a soft-spoken, super-friendly, bohemian left-anarchist, counter-cultural, charismatic personality at Columbia. He loved to talk with everybody he bumped into around campus. He exhibited a charming spirit which made him popular with the Barnard women he spoke with and caused him to have many Columbia men friends by the beginning of his junior year in Fall 1966.
At the P.A.C.T. party, Teddy and Nancy seemed to get bored quickly and left the party within an hour. Juan came on friendly to Beth, and she was hugging him passionately in the corner of the living room after a few drinks and a few dances. Seeing that Beth seemed into Juan that night, I escorted another Barnard woman I had been talking with for much of the evening home to her W. 106th St. and Broadway apartment.
James and the Twenty-Seven Bicycles
8 years ago