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1970: A year of turmoil

· April 20, 2010 · Post a comment

Forty years ago today, the Kansas Union burned. What followed was a year of violence and destruction not seen since Quantrill's Raid. While the unrest has long since dissipated, the memories remain.

Comments

LHS1980 3 years, 2 months ago

yankeevet - thank you brother for serving, and welcome home.

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hurlingchunks 3 years, 10 months ago

I was born in 1970, I have never lived in a time of hate or violence against my fellow Americans. I'm sorry my generation could not settle our differences by burning buildings down or rioting in the streets. 40 years is a long time, I hope my son can enjoy 40 years with out it also.

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

1970's were a great decade.

Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

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donjuan 3 years, 10 months ago

1970 was fantastic not a negative time at all.

Vietnam was a mistake, those like yankeevet who served are to be honored - it was by no means easy for them and they are a testatment to the American spirit.

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yankeevet 3 years, 10 months ago

I was in the Ashau Valley; Vietnam; during this time; fighting a war that should of never been; so i had no part in demonstrations; or burning down college campus...etc. It may of been an unjust war; but at the time I was an american soldier; and we obeyed our orders. I was never a hero; but i served alongside many of them.

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sgtmag 3 years, 11 months ago

This happened 3 yrs before I was born but I do remeber my dad telling me about them. He was a teacher at Lawrence High at the time and would have to literally fight his way through the halls at times.

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Stu Clark 3 years, 11 months ago

Hairy, I am one of what is called the silent generation. Graduating from college in 1958, we preceded the tumult that was to follow in the '60s. I remember my younger brother noting that his classmates tended to tbe more boistrous than mine. So there was a progression from acceptance of the status quo to a move to force change among those coming of age in that time frame. One beneficial result of this upheaval was the success of the civil rights movement . Another was the end of the Vietnam war.

About the silent majority, I think that some conservatives think that because their case is not attracting enough popular support, they are suggesting that there is a large pool of non-vocal individuals who believe in their cause but are too timid to speak out.

Well...maybe.

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blackfox1945 3 years, 11 months ago

Yes I remember the Green Gables era and the riots lived it . I remember going to Woolworth when it was at the corner of 10th and Mass and not beng served only from the back door. Blacks were not aloud downtown to go in and sit at any restaurant. Lawrence is still racist just suttle now. Everydy you put up with some form of smug remarks. I am fed up now and fed up then. This is not the south we are educated people here. We can do the jobs you have and excel to the highest. So tell me why is the black race so hated , we are the ones that have been misused and abuse just because of the color of skin. would you not have a little concern and frustrations? You know when it comes down to it we all bleed red blood and we all die sooner or later so tell me what is the difference.

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windchimes 3 years, 12 months ago

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

Voltaire

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edjayhawk 3 years, 12 months ago

It wasn't all negative. They were the first generation to stand up against authority and the establishment. I think in a lot of ways that was a good thing. It made us think more about our society and the problems that were not very visible before the 70's.

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igby 3 years, 12 months ago

Who will be the next Dem President to lead?

This is how the pick them!

You must pass the splotch test of course! Lol.

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igby 3 years, 12 months ago

Who will be the next Dem President to lead?

This is how they pick them !http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHFXG3...

You must pass the splotch test of course

!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFn...

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distant_voice 3 years, 12 months ago

These were the children of America's greatest generation trying their damned hardest to be America's worst generation; and I was one of them. One thing I learned in 1970 was that Hippie stands for Hypocrite: those who were willing to kill for peace, those who thought escapism through drugs was the way to a Utopian society, those who degraded work and money, but lived on government handouts and what they could steal from others, and those who thought that having sex freely was the same as lovingly freely. We were the shame of 250 years of American society; the blight that marked our country and set us on the path of drug abuse and sexual diseases in epidemic proportions. We were the ones who said marriage was a passe' institution and raised a generation of thugs and drugies on our own. The only thing good to be said about 1970 is that it's over and most of that generation learned the damage and destruction it caused. But teens, being always teens, look at these times and want to be exactly like us; the disease of the teen mind.

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igby 3 years, 12 months ago

Your coconut brain after 40 years of liberal thinking!

...and then one day you have a sudden realization of reality!

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workinghard 3 years, 12 months ago

berehmer (Belinda Rehmer) " I believe outside influences instigated the hate" In 1970 I was going to school in Manhattan and would go back and forth from home by bus on the weekends. Many times when we stopped in Topeka, youths going to or coming back from Lawrence would get on or off. I would listen to them talk about the trouble they had or planned to start in Lawrence. So yes, there was outside influences.

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Multidisciplinary 3 years, 12 months ago

My sister was class of 70, & since we lived far from the action, I didn't get to see things 1st hand myself. Mom was a manager @ the Union Bookstore, & we were on vacation when it happened. I was 10, & having just suffered a couple of tragic losses already, to see on the news the place where my Mom worked having been bombed, I was terrified. Just what every vacation parent needs,work is bombed, hysterically frightened 10 yr old little girl.☺ Poor mom.

I remember hearing that a WJH VP had called my sister & her friend n-lovers because they had friends that were black,(both having fathers in the long standing Lawrence business community). My mom was not one to gossip, so I didn't hear any more about it. All I know is that at the time I thought, "Wow, I can't see Mr. X, (the other dad) standing for that 1 min." I mean, they had serious money & clout, he was a strong dad I'd heard didn't put up with much, much like my mom. But she tended to turn her cheek unless it was really important. I got to WJH a few years later, took typing. Got a poor grade, odd since I'm a pianist who typed well, & my friends who got A's in his class said my papers looked exactly like theirs, couldn't find flaws. Learned later, he used to be that same VP that had called my sister the name, now he was only a teacher. Wonder how that occurred, & maybe that had something to do with my grade? I was getting A's in most all my other classes, lol.

There were a lot of arguments between my sis & mom during those years. I never really knew exactly what about, just chalked it up to my sister's behavior. But now, reading the comments, knowing my mom worked up there, my sis being at LHS during this time period, I can see that there was a lot of the tension on both sides of the parent-child union. Mom's worries & curfews, may well have been attributed to what you are writing about.

Thank you. At times I think I need to find some of you & learn more about my sister's life from those who were there, not just the what 'the kid sister saw or mom said' point of view. She died the first year at KU, so I can't ask what the hell all that was about, or her side of why she was the way she was. It's fun to see some of you posting now, remembering what you were like back then, either people I knew a lot, or just saw around now & then, lol. You old hippies! (me tagging along there at the end) haha. I'm still me, kind of, are you still you?

(oh the memories I have of some of you LHS kids, & the horrors of you all in my mother's perfect living room getting high, some of you sitting half dressed GASP! when my parents were gone, knowing all hell was going to happen when she found out. Do you realize the horrid pressure you put on me as a little kid? Because sis would beat & taunt me if I told/did anything to upset her (literally & hard, many times, using objects), & mom would get me in trouble if I hadn't told her when she found out, which they always left some trace so she did? )

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Kirk Larson 3 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, Nixon talked a lot about the Silent Majority. And then, what do you know, they elected Jimmy Carter.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 12 months ago

"What is the silent majority?" === Nixon and his crew used that in the early 1970's, but it didn't originate with them: "This article is about the political phrase introduced by Richard Nixon. For other uses, see Silent Majority (disambiguation). The silent majority is an unspecified large majority of people in a country or group who do not express their opinions publicly. The term was popularized (though not first used) by U.S. President Richard Nixon in a November 3, 1969, speech in which he said, "And so tonight — to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans — I ask for your support."[1] In this usage it referred to those Americans who did not join in the large demonstrations against the Vietnam War at the time, who did not join in the counterculture, and who did not participate in public discourse. Nixon along with many others saw this group as being overshadowed in the media by the more vocal minority." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_m...

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Bill Lee 3 years, 12 months ago

The biggest urban legend in Lawrence is that the Kansas Union fire in 1970 was politically motivated. It may have been, but no one knows because the case was never solved, and no one ever claimed credit for it. I've always felt it was someone Frank Burge had fired or some other disgruntled student. While we had a National Guard unit in town and a curfew, we did not have Marial Law imposed on the city. The Guard was here to support local law enforcement, not to supplant it. As the overnight disc jockey on KUOK, the student radio station at KU then, I had a curfew pass so got to see a lot of things others didn't. As I went home one evening, I remember seeing two black guys with shotguns standing on the SE corner of 14th & Tennessee. I was coming downhill from campus, made a right turn onto TN, and kept my eyes glued to my rearview mirror. A few blocks later I lost sight of the two guys on that corner. I kept my curfew pass for 35 years, but lost it in the Boardwalk fire five years ago. 1970 was certainly one of the most interesting times of my life.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 12 months ago

I thought I heard the sound of grinding teeth from the direction of Wyandotte County.

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riverdrifter 3 years, 12 months ago

Don't you just know that HWMNBN is agonizing right now that he cannot blog-on here and regale us all with his feats of derring-do, like jumping out of the trunk with ol' Vern. And thank God for that!

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ChristineMetz 3 years, 12 months ago

Hi Everyone,

I'm the reporter with the Lawrence Journal-World. We had several references on this thread about martial law in Lawrence during 1970. While I never read or heard anything about actual "martial law" being declared in Lawrence, I do know that curfews were in place, the National Guard was called in to assist law enforcement and emergency orders were enforced about the transporting and purchasing of weapons, ammunition and explosives.

So my question to all of you is - even though the city wasn't technically under martial law was it under military enforcement in reality? As all things pertaining to this year, I'm sure there are many varied opinions on this.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I've enjoyed reading your stories and (literal) different points of view.

Christine Metz Special Projects Reporter Lawrence Journal-World

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 12 months ago

Wasn't this during He Who Must Not Be Named's double naught spy career?

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Hairy_Read 3 years, 12 months ago

What is the silent majority? I've heard this term a few times lately. Is it a specific group? Who is politically in the know here who can tell me?

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Belinda Rehmer 3 years, 12 months ago

Those times of turmoil deeply affected this high school student. Never have I understood why the color or one's skin or the length of one's hair would make a person less/more intelligent, or human, so I didn't understand why I was being beat. Nor did I understand why that group of kids trapped that young man in between the doors of the cafeteria and beat him so brutally. Why my brother carried his baseball bat in the car beside him. Why I did not WANT to go out after dark. But I did understand why my father set us down and gave us instruction as to how we were not to go anywhere alone and if people wrere blocking the road you are on, to not stop, (no matter who/what is in the way) but to drive directly to the police department.. Because we were scared. And I was glad we had that baseball bat when the log chain was being hurled at my head in my high school parking lot. I didn't understand why I couldn't talk to my classmate, whom I admired, because of her fear of retribution. She feared "they" would burn her home or beat up her younger sibblings if she were to be seen talking to me. These were not "hippies" burning and looting or jumping strangers because of the color of their skin. These were us. WE were doing it. I believe outside influences instigated the hate. But those "outsiders" were gone in the end and we were left to pick up the pieces. This was mob mentality and it wasn't somewhere else. It was right here in River City. Yes, many of those in Lawrence's leadership today are products of Lawrence in late 60's and early 70's. But they are not the instigators of this evil or even "hippies". They are good upstanding citizens who at that time were caught up in a very freightening and embarrassing part of Lawrence history. These great leaders today perservered this tumultuous time and learned it is not up to others to better our world, it starts with me. Anger and scare tacticts don't work. Love and compassion moves you to wanting to make an impact on your world. I don't know about the others, but I have tried to put this ugly behind me and move on, but it's always there and this horrendous time left me bitter and untrusting. I learned drugs and alcohol only mask the pain and suffering for a short while but the Peace that passes all understanding can clean your soul so you can walk again. So I can stand up and make a difference for my children and grandchildren. I love the new me and I never want to go back. I suggest there are others in this forum that could benefit from that teaching. If you want to make a difference in this life stand up for what is right in peace, love and understanding. Think of OTHERS more than self and reach out to our Lord to lead you.

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Skan 3 years, 12 months ago

In 1970 the municipal pool was in its second full year of operation. It was built to give all people a safe place to swim. Despite the racial strife in Lawrence, the integrated management of the pool, along with Parks and Recreation kept the peace there.

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windchimes 3 years, 12 months ago

we are stardust we are golden and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden

joni mitchell, woodstock

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 12 months ago

MVC: "Lawrence, and particularly my generation in high school and college, went out of its way to try to erase the 60's and 1970 from its memory" ==== A good tactic, perhaps, but the youth movement (not pure in its intentions, like all movements) was inspired by the draft, racism, sexism, etc.) to try and take some action. If they had not, the draft would have never ended and we would probably still be in Viet Nam. At least the kids in the 1980's didn't have to spill their blood needlessly in the jungles of Asia; now they can volunteer to do it and let their precious fluids drain into the sands of the oil barons. One thing is constant: Bring the troops home......now.

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countrymanwillsurvive 3 years, 12 months ago

This time was chaotic for some of the local merchants. Many groups congregated on downtown Mass. St. And the fear of roits and possible looting did make some business owners hire protection. There was a hamburger stand called "Henrys' on 6th street that was having trouble with people gathering there and getting rebellous. The owner hired 2 security men with dogs. On an occasion when they were forced to bring the dogs out which was dangerous for them as they were not armed, only the dogs. They did get control and the crowd left without any damage to the business. But it was tence. Fear and anger is a powerful instigator. Lawrence is a melting pot of many ethnic, political and moral views with the University drawing many here. I am proud of Lawrence that it does get along so well with this much diversity. Maybe not as much as some would like but is ever changing with student coming and going on with there lives elsewhere. I love this town.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 12 months ago

Funny how dissent now on the right is treated today vs. all the leftist radical "dissent" over the past 40 or so years and especially during the Bush' two terms. Two different animals if you pay attention to the corrupt leftist Obama-worshiping lamestream media. ELF torching homes and GreenPeace interrupting maritime commerce by violent means and signs of Bush with a hitler mustache and effagies of being hanged kinda goes unnoticed by them. But a peaceful tea party? A bunch of dangerous rednecks. The latest is this buffoon Charles Blow calling a tea party gathering a "minstrel show". He never spoke to one single tea partier. Laura Ingraham called this idiot out and he couldn't answer one of her questions.

As someone posted the other day something to the effect of:

Conservative dissenters: terrorists Liberal dissenters: America loving patriots

We keep on the path we're on, this country is finished. Americans have had it up their eyeballs with Obama, Pelosi and Reid. Luckily, I strongly feel the silent majority that is being overlooked by the lamestream leftist media is going to fire them and all of their progressive cohorts between this November and November of 2012.

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somedude20 3 years, 12 months ago

Smoke it up hippies at least your 1970 was better than March 5, 1770.

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oskiejackie 3 years, 12 months ago

Leo Beuerman is a better 1970 lawrence story

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myvotecounts 3 years, 12 months ago

I experienced these events through the eyes of a Lawrence grade schooler--I remember them locking us in our grade school for safety, and I learned what "martial law" and "curfew" meant. I assumed until I was an adult, that peace marches and demonstrations had occurred in towns all over Kansas. (haha) For that reason and a lot of other things I saw and heard in Lawrence at that time, I particularly hate the expression, "If you remember the 60s you weren't there." The people who make that tired joke still don't get it; the fact that they weren't and aren't the center of the universe. They were making a lasting impression on even younger citizens who do remember and have had to grow up in the burned out wake they leave behind.

I think during the late 70s and early 80s, Lawrence, and particularly my generation in high school and college, went out of its way to try to erase the 60's and 1970 from its memory. It was so forgotten, that I started thinking much of it had been my imagination. In the 90s, hippies (the look) started being cool again, and now the details of 1970 are being recalled as "historic."

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Ralph Reed 3 years, 12 months ago

@rtwngr. I've always believed Rick was setup by outside agitators who left town immediately after his death. There was a couple (man & woman) who came into town with the specific goal of firing up more racial unrest. The woman was with Rick when he was killed. As I remember, both she and the man who came into town with her left shortly after Rick's death.. Yes, I remember that night also. // Not related to Rick's death, but it was about this same time that Green Gables (I think that was the name) closed. (Does anyone have anything on that?) // @Logan72. Good link to the UDK article. One thing wrong with it though, the young man who was shot wasn't a student. He had been, but wasn't at the time. /***/ @BP & cato. It's easy to place blame from the distance of time.

"And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you " // Anyone remember Vern Miller? // Yes, I remember that time all too well.

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K_Verses_The_World 3 years, 12 months ago

The rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame, Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain. Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks, Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain

Bob Dylan - Jokerman

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Liberty275 3 years, 12 months ago

Having grown up in South Carolina and Florida during the 60s, I never once saw any examples of racial unrest or riots. I've also never lived under martial law.

My old boss that grew up in Lawrence during the same period told me stories about riots in schools and being subject to martial law and curfews.
.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 12 months ago

gramdaddy: "I wish I would see the passion of those days in our youth today." === I tend to agree. The Viet Nam era was unique in a way. If we still had a draft and everyone got 'a chance' to do a tour of duty in one of our current BS wars, things might be different. The largest protestor group now seems to be the Tea Party, mainly 50+ white men whining about the government while they wait for their medicare cards and social security checks.

It appears to me there were two main lessons from this tumultuous time: 1. Lawrence was, and in many ways still is, a racist town. 2. If you mess with the man too much, he will gun you down. I just hope at one of these "Tea Parties' some nut doesn't pull a gun on the cops or shoot into the air. The most likely response will be the same as the 1970's and some old guys will get mowed down like rows of corn. When it's over, as with the killing of Nick the Pinball Wizard in front of the Gaslight, an inquiry will not tell us much and 'no one' will have actually fired their guns. A recent book, "This is America? by Rusy L. Monhollon, has a well-researched treatment of the 1960's in Lawrence and how it led up to 1970, Get yours cheap on the Internet.

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grammaddy 3 years, 12 months ago

I wish I would see the passion of those days in our youth today. Not so much the violence, I'd like to think we've evolved a little. Nobody seems to care about anything any more. They'd rather whine.

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rtwngr 3 years, 12 months ago

I remember the night Tiger Dowdell threw down on some police in an alley downtown. The racial unrest exploded after that.

Yes, Cato, the inmates are running the asylum now.

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Alia Ahmed 3 years, 12 months ago

There was an excellent article in the UDK back in December about some of these events as well as how activism has changed in the 40 years since the unrest.

http://www.kansan.com/news/2009/dec/04/activism/

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Phase 3 years, 12 months ago

I had an old house in the oread neighborhood that had been converted into five apartments. It seemed that a lot of the people participating in the various mis-deeds lived in that area (a couple of them were my tenants). After the union burned, I spent several nights on the roof of the front porch with a 12 guage---even with insurance, i figured that if they torched the place it would break me --- scary times!

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 12 months ago

You guys should write a comic book distilling all your vast knowledge of how the hippies ruined the world.

Oh, wait, you already did that in two short posts here. Never mind.

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Keith 3 years, 12 months ago

Oh boo hoo, the last election didn't go our way, now we're crying the end of the world. What ever happened to the grown ups that supposedly inhabited the Republican party?

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cato_the_elder 3 years, 12 months ago

Big Prune, as you also know, ex-hippies like these are currently running our government in Washington. God help us.

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BigPrune 3 years, 12 months ago

After all the violence, destruction, death threats, chaos and martial law by the hippies in the '70's.......they all grow'd up and elected the so-called "progressives" to run City Hall in the '90's. So in essence, they ruined our city twice.

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independant1 3 years, 12 months ago

Never have I been stopped, vehicle searched and frisked more than in 1970.

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