C. A. Casey

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Odd Nostalgia

Posted by Casey on September 15, 2007

I ran into the Web site of my brother’s best buddy from junior high, high school, and college, Harold Koplowitz. His claim to fame is a book he wrote 30 years ago called Carbondale After Dark.


Well, as it says on his site: “He currently works full-time at the wire service and writes on the side, toiling in obscurity until he heard an urban legend that his nearly quarter-century-old book was selling for hundreds of dollars on the Internet. As a result, he decided to stop searching for an agent to market his writings and do it himself, starting with Carbondale After Dark.”

I own one of the original copies of the book. We all bought it when he first put it out. Among other things, he wrote about the student riots of May, 1970 in reaction to the Kent State shootings.

I was a freshman in high school when the riots happened. The freshman were in a separate new school building on the edge of town at the time and they needed a place to put the National Guard, who were in town to stop the college students from tearing up the downtown every night. They declared Martial Law. So they kicked us out of school and moved in.

We had to meet in churches for half-days to, at least, pretend to fulfill the state’s minimum requirement for school attendance. They closed the main high school, too, because it was next to the armory and all the military vehicles, including tanks, were parked in the football field. The older kids would arrive at the church bandaged up from getting clubbed because they spent the night downtown rioting. They had the first hand accounts we all wanted to hear. Those half-days turned into mini-seminars in political discourse.

There was a city-wide 7 o’clock curfew and we were trying to put on our annual high school musical. We’d get out of rehearsals at ten to seven and there would be National Guard with rifles lounging outside the doors.

Surreal doesn’t begin to describe it.

They finally closed the University to get the students out of town. They had to come back in the summer to finish their course work.

I’ve always said that the events of that spring had a profound impact on me and my belief systems.

Here’s a video trailer from the book. Click on the start arrow to stay on this page. If you click on the image, you’ll go to the YouTube page.


4 Responses to “Odd Nostalgia”

  1. Claudia said

    um… I think it’s surreal you were there at all…

  2. Casey said

    Carbondale was home for 20 years. A great place to grow up.

  3. Marta Ladd said

    For sure I remember those days….as an older student with teased hair and a monther of five, I walked into a group of students coming out of the Bursar’s office and saw the Dean of Students with a bloody lip. One student stood up with a long pipe in his hand and started moving…so I left. Learned later that was the core group making their next plans. Earlier I had heard the storm trooper like marching of the State Troopers coming around the building….what a memory.

  4. Hi C.A. I have only the vaguest memory of you, but I certainly remember Charles, and always wanted to thank him profusely for helping me start nonSequitur magazine. It never would have happened without Charles and his girlfriend at the time, whose name escapes me. I live in Florida now, where I’m planning to publish my writings in ebooks, including a digital version of Carbondale After Dark. To that end, I started a page on Facebook for those who lived in Carbondale or went to SIU in the 1960s and ’70s to share memories and vintage multimedia. I liked your recollection of the riots from the perspective of a high school freshman, and I hope you won’t mind that I copied it to my page, adding it to the 1970 timeline, along with a link to your page here. I also welcome you, or Charles, or anyone you know who might have memories or multimedia of that time and place to post on “FaceCAD.”

    Harold Koplowitz

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