I heard Pete Seeger live for the first time in July 1966 at an evening concert in Lewinsohn Stadium near CCNY at 137th St. in Manhattan. The stadium was packed with a mixture of old leftists from the 1930s and red diaper baby and left-liberal folk music fans from the 1960s “folk-left.” Seeger received the most applause when he sang “If you love your Uncle Sam, bring them home, bring them home” and “Turn, Turn, Turn.” As I walked back to the Broadway IRT subway station at 137th St., within a massive crowd of Seeger folk music fans, it again seemed that everybody in New York City was against the war in Viet Nam. But I now realized that U.S. foreign policy was not determined by the people of the United States, but by a small corporate elite and its corporate economic interests.
At the end of July, the Children’s Treatment Center closed down for the rest of the summer, so I secured another Urban Corps work assignment from the City: assistant teacher at the Monticello Day Care Center in East Harlem, near 104th St. and First Ave. To get to Monticello Day Care Center, you had to get off the Lexington Ave. subway at either 103rd St. or 110th St. and then walk east, by housing projects, until you reached the daycare center. The center was directed by a middle-aged African-American woman and it offered community people a day camp and a teenage recreational program, as well as the head start and pre-school nursery programs in which I worked.
During my last week of work at Monticello Day Care Center, two Puerto Rican guys in their late teens or early 20s from the neighborhood jumped me as I entered the 110th St. subway station on my way home. They took my cheap watch and emptied my wallet of the four dollars I was carrying, but didn’t harm me physically. It was the first time I had ever been mugged and I did not like the sensation.
On the remaining few days of my work-study job at Monticello Day Care Center I walked uneasily to and from the 103rd St. subway station—not the 110th St. station. And I was glad when this summer job ended.
James and the Twenty-Seven Bicycles
8 years ago