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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mob Violence in a Small Town

On March 4, 1968 I participated in a Peace March in Fort Collins, Colorado while attending college at Colorado State University. I wrote a diary back then and found the pages where I memorialized the events of that cold gray day. 

About 1500 students gathered at the campus oval around 3:30 PM.  We headed north on College Avenue and marched six blocks to Mountain Avenue.  I wrote "When we crossed Oak Street everything changed. You could feel the hostility. Townies - young and old - lined both sides of the street. They were quiet, then, but you could feel the hate."  I am sure we singing something. Marchers always sang about giving peace a chance or we shall overcome. The townies started heckling. They got louder and louder. We arrived at the Larimer County Courthouse on Mountain Avenue which is a very broad road with an island divider where the marchers gathered. The street was supposedly closed to traffic. Galway Kinnell, the poet in residence at CSU that year, was speaking when big semi drove straight into the crowd with it's horn blaring. At least the driver gave the marchers a warning he was headed their direction, unlike what happened in Charlottesville yesterday. I wrote "Jesus, that could have been a bad scene!"  It all happened so quick and then it was over. I really did not process the magnitude of what happened because nobody was hurt. (The police chased and caught the driver who complained his son was fighting in Viet Nam.)

The speakers continued, prayers were made, and the crowd retraced their steps back to campus.  Except the return to campus turned violent. Townies rushed the marchers and ripped the signs away from the marchers as if that would silence the call for peace. As we neared campus someone from the Farm House Fraternity began throwing eggs at the marchers. An egg hit a small child in a stroller in the eye. That was horrible. Marchers began to cry and run for safety. One block later we were back on campus and safe. Once you have been a victim of mob violence you can't forget what happened. I was unharmed, but I still remember that cold gray day forty nine years later.

Three weeks after our march Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for a second term as President. He had lost moral authority in my opinion.

Leaders do not divide; they inspire. I am fearful for where we are headed.

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I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.