War had commenced that Summer, with rocks thrown hard at the police on Chicago’s streets. I was one of the combatants, determined to bring the Democratic Convention in the city that August to a halt, and by doing so, end the war in Vietnam. That’s why I gathered in Grant Park with other long-haired young and found ourselves one night on Wabash Avenue facing a line of helmeted police officers covering their badge numbers with tape before their charge. “The whole world’s watching!” we yelled at the television cameras, and then the police seethed forward, crashed against us, and cracked heads.
While police vans were overturned and set on fire, I ran. I was seventeen. I ran past alleys where stray officers caught by the mob were being pummeled in revenge, and past the bleeding, broken teenagers caught under batons.
I got home, breathless, in one piece. My father was watching on live television the very scene I’d just escaped, and he looked at me without noticing my torn clothes or dripping sweat. He said casually. “I’ve got tickets to a Cubs game tomorrow. Want to go?” And unthinking, I said, “Sure”, and went to my room where I got undressed and lay safely in my bed in the dark. “Goodnight”, he said to my closed door, and closed his own. Whatever was transpiring downtown at this hour between hippies and law enforcement, I was barricaded by fire escapes and a quilt of clouds.