Following a great response to our initial reach-out to Golden Tigers who graduated between 1950 – 1960 for memories and advice relevant to the unprecedented times we are currently experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched a second query to Golden Tigers who graduated between 1965-1974. While we intentionally picked the era of the Vietnam War, our questions focused on gathering recollections of interrupted school experiences due to world events and offering advice to today’s students and families coping with uncertainty of when life will return to “normal.”
Thank you to our Golden Tigers for sharing these powerful memories and providing meaningful advice to our Tiger Nation.
ELIZABETH THOMAS 1965
Memories: Two classmates served in Vietnam deep in the jungle. One came back, and the other— from my 1964 homeroom class, 11A with Miss Whitehouse—was taken in action.
I studied abroad for one year from 1967-68 in Berlin, West Germany. There were immense demonstrations against the war in the downtown area. The students had sit-ins, speeches, and huge gatherings. The US was trying to replace the French in the far distant land of Southeast Asia. We were fighting against the Viet Kong on their own territory. They managed to have their entire villages live, eat and sleep underground. They roamed the jungle with weapons and tricks which we had never seen before. We could bomb a huge crater without hurting one Viet Kong. We were losing badly. We ended the war and called all soldiers home, never to give the soldiers a thank you, a welcome home, nor a ceremony. I feel that the Vietnam War was one we learned from—never to do that again. It was the young people who were most vehement about getting out, for they were the ones to be most affected. One was lucky if one was not affected. The Vietnam War was the unfortunate path that man would take — man-made and man-controlled. The people had the choice whether to participate or to object. It was a war proven to never happen again, hopefully. [Image: West Berlin protest against Vietnam War, 1968, Wikipedia]
Advice: Students and families should stay the course, remain at home as long as it takes for our leaders to allow us to go back to work, to the gym, or to classes. I am so sorry for those who have lost their lives. The rest of us can stay vigilant. We can play music, do artwork, read books, or take out old math books like I do. You would be amazed how those theorems still exist!
JOANNE BLAKE 1966
Memories: It would have been extremely rare for anyone to leave their classes to participate in a political event in high school. Part of our success as a generation, was making education a first priority, either out of knowing that or general social expectation. High school students were not considered adults and their opinions were not heavily weighted because they were still learning basic life skills. We were not an entitled group…Generally, the mainstream was pretty much removed from these actions and many did not relate to what was shown on television. Many or even most youth were more interested in identifying as “hippies” than in actual serious change makers. I don’t recall much in the way of discussions taking place in school or otherwise. [Getty Image]
Advice: Put God and family first. Build a strong foundation with a good education. Read news and current events from multiple outlets of different political slants, not being partisan in (one’s) study. That will need to be searched out, as the media is now perhaps 90% partisan. Then (one) will be able to grow in wisdom and knowledge (and) can be of more value as an adult…
LILI RACHEL SAMSON 1966
Memories: There were spontaneous demonstrations, and while at Columbia students occupied the dean’s office. My first cousin was one of nine wounded at Kent State by the national guard…I was very close to my brother who enlisted. He returned a more mature and confident adult. However, I was constantly frightened about his safety. [Image: John Filo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard/Wikipedia]
LARRY SHAW 1966
Memories: Every generation has it’s worries – we had polio and the Cold War – I still remember the siren on top of Fairfax School…having number 200 in the draft, and Nixon promising in September to stop drafting people above 195. [Getty Anniversary Image]
RONALD WEXLER 1966
Advice: Follow directions given. Shelter in place. If everyone does this, it will end sooner. If you don’t obey the law/rules, many more people will die… Keep yourself busy at home. Exercise. Go out to the front or back yard for sun. Remember… past epidemics and pandemics, they all passed. This will not be forever! 🙂
DEBORAH KOHN 1967, HALL OF FAME MEMBER
Advice: My beloved mother, of blessed memory, always told me that one must never stop having hope. I continue to live by this advice and I offer this advice to today’s students and families coping with these uncertain, unprecedented times.
ITZHAK ROSNER 1967
Memories: After killing of four Kent State University students all studies stopped in college 1970… A great relief at losing the draft lottery #334.
Advice: For each person, normal and when it returns, different.
KAREN GIANNANTONIO REMPEL 1968
Advice: In the 1960’s, life was chaotic/crazy. We all thought the nation and the world were coming apart at the seams. Fast forward to today. We are still here. We have survived. But life is chaotic and crazy. It may seem as if we’re coming apart at the seams. To be completely cliched: This, too, shall pass, because it always does. There IS a time and a season (and a reason) for everything. Think of the ’60’s song based on the Bible, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” A time for everything. I swear it’s not too late. Be of good faith. [Image: Wikipedia]
MARILYN SEGAL HEASLEY 1968
Memories: In high school, we did what we were supposed to do. Plus, the war was just ramping up. It really didn’t hit its stride until college. I remember being at a friend’s house where a bunch of us watched the draft lottery. Watching the guys in the room as the numbers were drawn was a painful experience, no one knowing where they would fall. Our host’s number (drawn by birthday) was #1. As the war progressed and images of flag-draped coffins were viewed across the country on television, protests on college campuses began. Combine that with the rise of the Black Student Union on campus and there was action everywhere you turned. I was a journalism student at Ohio State and I was expected to be in the midst of things. I remember dodging between protestors and the National Guard, working my way across campus to turn in reports (no computers then), hiding in building doorways to avoid getting trapped in between the two groups… I would not trade that time period for anything. I did things I would never have considered doing. I still have friends from then and I continue to stand up for that in which I believe. [Draft card image: Wikipedia]
Advice: What is normal? Our generation, born in the aftermath of a world war, grew up in a quiet and safe environment. All was serene, outwardly. Of course, no one knew what went on behind closed doors. We were protected from adversity. So, when we faced it, we reacted and changed the definition of normal. While I’m not proud of how returning veterans were treated (I’m as guilty as the next person), standing up for beliefs and for the truth is still vital. Insist on truth, stand up to authority and always question. Don’t just accept Pablum that is fed to you as the ultimate truth. Question, research and stand up. If you don’t stand up, who will? We will have a new normal as we slowly come back into the sun and we’ll eventually forget what we did to survive this…until the next time.
CINDY ARBERMAN BERENSON 1969
Advice: You must live day to day. Keep in touch with friends and keep them close by phone and social media. It will be your relationships that will help you get through this time in isolation…friends who went into the service were not guaranteed to return. Friendships are precious. [Etsy Image: Vintage Western Electric Rotary Desk Phone, Retro Black Model 500 1971]
H LYNN COHEN 1969
Memories: After graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in aerospace/aviation, I entered officer training school for the United States Air Force,after which I spent one year of undergraduate pilot training and earned my Air Force wings and became a fighter pilot. After I left the Air Force, I took a job as a corporate pilot as a captain for a privately owned family company for two years and went on to become an airline pilot and international captain at Continental/United A`irlines. [Image: 1970 United States Air Force symbol, credit Pinterest]
Advice: I believe more and more universities will continue with online courses, but in today’s world of technology, that’s where the jobs and careers will be, and not all of them require a four-year college degree… The very best advice I could give anyone that will serve you well throughout your entire life, do not make any major decisions based on emotion, and events that could be thrown at you at any time during your life, take a deep breath, try to remove yourself from the center of the decision and look at it as an outsider looking for the facts, and the truth, try to be disciplined, in all aspects of your life that are of importance, and try not to make a snap decision because you are angry, or depressed, or in fear, or even things that are going to work out positively, think before you do, and don’t make a decision based on the way you feel emotionally at that very moment, and most of all, do your own due diligence!!! You are responsible for your life…I wish you all the best on the journey you’re are already in!!
DAVID COPPERMAN 1969
Memories: College was regularly disrupted my first year, not much after. I traveled some for demonstrations, no cutting or rioting…We sought new forms of expression and cooperation. They yielded lasting images but not basic impact/change. [Photo: Vietnam Demonstration, Getty Anniversary Images]
Advice: Now we are more than double in world population, an order of magnitude more complex and inter-dependent economically, and possibly failing in governance. What constitutes “normal” going forward may be completely unclear at this point. The modes of collaboration that we failed to achieve will be of utmost importance.
MARK MILLER 1969
Advice: Let your faith, whatever it may be, be your guide. We will get through this with common sense and faith… I am sad that those who served were and still are treated as they are. They faithfully and selflessly served our country and should be treated as heroes.
PAUL SIEGEL 1969
Memories: I attended Cleveland State and seem to recall that classes were canceled around the time of the Kent State killings. At least one of my former classmates was in the freshman class there and present on those grounds that day. [Kent State Massacre, Getty Images]
LORRY WAGNER 1969
Memories: Eligible for the draft, but not being picked in the lottery. There was not all that much (class disruption) in 1969 around Cleveland, but in college it really took off…
Advice: This is a great opportunity to be born anew and to develop closer/better relationships with your family. If you were awakened today, this would be your reality and you would develop ways to thrive. It is a time to talk more to your friends (instead of simply texting) and dream up ways to laugh and have fun “together.”… We were pretty sheltered in the Heights and the realities of the war were not in our face. Yes, there was the TV reporting, and we sort of knew what was going on, but unlike today with COVID-19, most of us lived privileged lives with very little impact.
CAROLYN BARRON MARCS 1970
Advice: Stay home or if you must go out, take every precaution, including gloves and mask. Be smart and safe.
JACK BENJAMIN 1971
Memories: I did not personally witness the protests and riots, however, I was very much aware of what was happening and how it split my classmates into various ideological camps, severed friendships and relationships which never healed…The late 60’s and early 70’s were very uncertain, confusing and frightening times. As a student, we received mixed signals from our government, our school administration, adults and our fellow students. Along with the fears associated with the Vietnam War, our society was also very split along various generational and radical lines. There was the growth of the recreational drug use movement, the hippie movement, women’s movements, various cults and eastern religious movements, violent and non-violent organizations, racial tensions. I personally embraced the dreams of Martin Luther King and the various peace movements hoping for positive change, gender equality, civil rights and acceptance. But, during those uncertain times, I witnessed a society which was, in my eyes, unraveling. I was worried that I would not be able to live the American Dream as defined by our forefathers and preserved by our Greatest Generation during World War II. I was frightened. [Getty Anniversary Image]
I did not actively protest against the Vietnam war. I still have my draft card. However, especially after the Kent State tragedy, I really started questioning what was right and what was wrong. I actually wrote a poem which I felt addressed the confusion we were all feeling. It basically said that whereas there was divisiveness and groups that thought they understood what was happening, but in actuality, none of us really understood the times. An historian friend of mine asked me in 2018, well before this pandemic, if I felt more worried about today’s political divisiveness and societal tension or about the Vietnam War era of the early seventies. I answered without hesitation, the Vietnam War era, and the fears and anxieties once again came to the surface.
Advice: I see the same fears today, as this horrific pandemic has led to our social isolation and its effect on our economy. My advice echoes the age-old statement: ” This, too, shall pass.” These current enforced state and national orders are important and critical to the health and well-being of all of our generations, from myself as a grandparent to my grandchildren. I applaud our Governor, Mike DeWine and his staff for their actions because I truly believe they have the best interest of our citizens at heart. We need to be patient, take this time to decide for ourselves what is really important in our lives and how we want to conduct our lives after this crisis has passed…
HOLLY KUPER 1971
Advice: This is an amazing opportunity to gather your thoughts, be calm inside, reflect on what it is that you really, really want to do with your life and who you want to be and with whom. You will never get this moment of complete solitude again. Do not waste it…I protested, I joined forces with my friends to right the wrongs. Vote from your heart and mind. Vote!!
DAVE NADZAM 1971
Memories: I have one memory of classes being interrupted while at Heights. It was 1970 after the Kent State shootings, and tensions were running high. Colleges were closing down all around the state and demonstrations were spilling over to high schools. One afternoon someone pulled the fire alarm and so the building was emptied. While standing outside for the “all-clear,” some students ran around carrying signs encouraging a student strike. My observation was that there wasn’t much enthusiasm for “striking” and demonstrating. When the all-clear was sounded we went back inside to class; I suppose my fellow striking classmates were disappointed in the lack of support. No, I didn’t cut class, or travel to protest or riot and none of my friends did either. I believe those who demonstrated did get the attention of our leaders and that they, the leaders, needed to bring the Vietnam war or our involvement to an end as quickly as possible…
There was a lot going on at the time. I remember having a paper route and helping friends with their routes before starting my sophomore year at Heights. There were daily war-related headlines and/or stories leaving me to hope every day that it would be over by the time I reached draft age. The war, while winding down was not completely over by the time, I turned 18 in September 1971 after graduating from Heights in June. The draft lottery started a couple years earlier to provide some equity and allow people to plan. The draft was held in the winter quarter of my freshman year. Certainly, the war was winding down but being drafted was still a concern of many. I remember feeling some dread, going home, lying on my bed, and listening to them pull dates and numbers. When they pulled mine, I felt a great burden lifted from my shoulders as the number for my birth date was 289 and knew it was very unlikely that I would be drafted and could carry on with my student life.
There was more to this era than the Vietnam war though. I went to summer school in 1968 to take World History to reduce my 10th grade class load. In late July 1968, the Glenville Riots broke out. During our class breaks many of us would go lean out the windows that overlooked the football field and the Cedar-Lee intersection to see what was going on. There was one gray wet day when we noticed the Ohio National Guard heading west on Cedar heading for the Glenville area to deal with the riot. The riot (and many around the country) happened following the assassination of both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. The time was unsettled and some predicted it was going to be a hot summer for riots and it wasn’t going to take much to trigger one. They weren’t wrong. People, it seemed, were just plain unhappy with the state of affairs in the country and anything might give them a reason to riot. [Glenville Riots Photo credit: Encyclopedia of Cleveland history | CWRU]
In December 1969 of my junior year the weather underground and/or Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) went on a rampage at Severance Center breaking windows and causing other damage. Shortly thereafter, in March 1970 Rodin’s “The Thinker” at the Cleveland Art Museum was bombed–it was up-righted but never repaired. Yet another event at the time was the “Kent State Shootings.”
While it seems that these events would never end, they did. Life went on. Many of us weren’t preoccupied with these unsettling events. We had extracurricular activities. We still went to movies, football games and basketball games, after-game activities, including eating at Geraci’s, McDonald’s on Mayfield, Corky and Lenny’s for something to eat and laugh with our friends. The unsavory events of the time didn’t shut the country down. We could freely choose to participate, for example, in demonstrations or not but with the Corona Virus we don’t have that option today. Instead, we must act in a way for the greater good and safety of our friends and neighbors. [Photo credit of Thinker: Mark Arehart/WKSU]
Advice: Different people are going to have different priorities. There will be those who need to feed their families because they lost their income. Those who do not have to worry about basic needs for themselves, can go into a helping mode–contact social service agencies or neighbors to see what they need and how you might help. Such activities will provide some sense of structure and give a sense of accomplishment. Your mind will never be far from what is going on with the virus and being shut in but activity will help to pass time and be a coping mechanism. Try your hand at some new activity; try cooking/baking–if you can read a recipe, you can cook or bake and while you might make a mess of it the first time, it will improve. The next thing you know you can create a dish without following a recipe… In these times, because we are shut in, my advice is: Do something nice for someone, “you’ll be better able to cope as you’re going to feel better about yourself for having done something positive for someone else.”
CHUCK HOGYE 1972
We will survive.
DAVID SHEWMON 1972
(Then), I was very nervous during the draft lottery. (Now), keep the faith.
BARBARA BAUGHMAN BERKE 1973
Memories: I was at Heights High on May 4, 1970 for an orientation program for 9th graders who would be at the high school the next fall. I will never forget that day, not because of the impression that Height made on me, but because I came home to the news of the Kent State riots where four students were killed protesting the Vietnam War. Around dinner time, my father who wrote the camera column for The Cleveland Press got a call from a young Kent State student. He’d taken photos of the National Guard and the student protests and had gone to the darkroom to develop his film but then become concerned that he would make an error and damage these newsworthy and revealing photographs. The young man drove to Cleveland with the undeveloped film and my father made arrangements with Tony Cannata who had just founded a professional photography lab in downtown Cleveland. Tony developed the film, made several sets of prints, and my father, who had many contacts at news organizations in Cleveland and New York helped the young man get his prints distributed. Though this young man did not take the iconic photo, his photos eventually became part of the investigation of how it came to be that the Ohio National Guard fired live bullets into a student demonstration. All of us who were students at the time were shocked, but undeterred about protesting the war…Many people suffered and died unnecessarily because of a pointless war, racially biased policies, and a government that neither faced facts nor shared them squarely. It was important to hold the government accountable and student action and a free press were essential to that. [Photo Credit: Time/Howard Ruffner- Getty Images]
Advice: Today we have a government that has neither faced facts, nor shared them to the extent needed for public health. Students should continue to fight for better government.
Among survey respondents:
- 96% were not drafted themselves
- 40% knew a classmate that was drafted and served either in the Army or Navy.