___ _ solarmilestones the movement matures Earth Day at 40: Roots of a Solar Advocate
ATRUE CHILD OF THE 1960s, I spent my late teenaged years in post- Beatnik alienation. Neck deep in hor- mone-fueled weltschmertz, I was look- ing for meaning in life and not finding
much. I felt utterly insignificant. Even prominent
figures seeking change appeared powerless.
The superpowers faced off with tens of thousands of hair-triggered nuclear weapons.
Jowly, red-faced politicians in the American
South unleashed police dogs and fire hoses on
nonviolent preachers and kids who were just
seeking a decent education, a good job, the right
to vote, to use a public drinking fountain and to
eat at a lunch counter.
My country was on the wrong side of a war in
a tiny Southeast Asian nation, where we would
ultimately unleash more explosive force than had
been detonated by both sides in World War II.
Before it was over, one out of every 10 Vietnamese had been killed.
So, at 19, I just checked out. I strapped on a
backpack and went hitchhiking around the world
for three years. I was a disk jockey in Honolulu
and a swimming coach in Tokyo. I taught English, was a short-order cook and (to my daughter’s later bemusement) got a gig as a model.
I’d always been a loner, but never more so
than during this period. On the inside of my
paperback of Catch- 22, I’d inscribed Kipling’s
Down to Gehenna
Or up to the Throne
He travels the fastest
Who travels alone.
I took the Trans-Siberian Railroad from the
Pacific all the way to Moscow in the dead of winter. I roamed over Africa, Asia, and the Middle
East. Living mostly on rice and peanut butter and
seldom sleeping indoors, I spent about $3 a day.
One day in early 1965, in southwest Africa, I
hitchhiked from the coastal town of Lüderitz to
the main north-south road running from Wind-
Denis hayes, head of Environmental Teach-In Inc., the organization coordinating activities
for the first Earth Day, shown at the group’s Washington, D.c., office, april 22, 1970. also pictured
is Judy Moody, a staffer for the event.
26 April 2010 SOLAR TODA Y solartoday.org
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