Sunday, December 01, 2013

At the beginning of the Long Strange Trip


I’ve been rotating through a bunch of photos of myself as Facebook profile pictures and I hit upon this one to use for the next day or so.

I shot it about this time of year in 1966 with the first 35mm camera I owned – a Minolta HiMatic-7 – mounted on a tripod. The scene was a mobile home I was renting behind a house on South Independence Street in Tipton, Ind. The cigarette was a Viceroy, a brand I favored after bumming several smokes from Jim West, who lived next door to me in Gillum Hall during my freshman year at Indiana State University.

I needed a shave, but it would be nine more years – on a backpacking trip to Isle Royale National Park – that I would get around to growing a beard. I was wearing an Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity sweatshirt. I still have it. I saw it this morning while rooting through some storage bins under the bed in the guest bedroom.

I started my first newspaper job on Sept. 1, 1966 as a reporter/photographer for the Tipton Tribune, so by December I had a pretty good handle on how things worked at the paper. My trailer was about a block south of the newspaper office, so it was a pretty short commute up the alley to work in my gray 1965 VW beetle.

I was 21 years old, engaged to be married the following June. Like most 21-year-olds, I thought I knew a lot more than I did. In retrospect, I was embarrassingly naïve about how the world works, which is why I fancied myself a liberal Democrat. I had all sorts of dopey reasons why the Vietnam War was wrong and how peace and love would rule the world just any day now.

And I hadn’t yet had my interview with Indianapolis News City Editor Wendell Trogdon that would lead to a new job as a rewrite man at The News, starting two months after this photo was taken.

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