Green, Green, the Grass was Green

The night air that summer was filled with the sweet green scent of crushed St. Augustine grass blades. College freshmen so eager to leave home we couldn't wait 'till Fall and started class the semester straight out of high school. It was 1969,  the summer of love, and we sat, wide-eyed kids all, in a circle on the cool grass under a huge old spreading live oak by the dorms at the University of Florida in Gainesville and talked about the meaning of life until the dew soaked into our thin cotton clothes and we shivered ourselves back inside.

I walked everywhere. Owning a car never occurred to me. It wasn't something I longed for, even if I could have afforded it. Home was several hours' ride on a Greyhound bus, and that was just about right.

Campus and dorm life suited me just fine. I snagged a corner room all to myself and taped a poem on the door that I hoped would get me the label of being an antisocial weirdo. I still remember the poem.


 by Babette Deutsch

Hell is not far below,
Not black, nor burning,
Nor even past returning:
You come and go.
You go and come
As in a mirror,
But hell is nearer,
And not so numb.
And when you go
You do not lose it,
Because you chose it –

As you know.

It didn't work, though. After only a few weeks, a picture perfect Tri Delt beauty queen named Lou Lodge knocked on my door and asked if she could room with me, the GDI, unaffiliated bookworm. We demolished some stereotypes, and got along fine.

I loved walking to the Student Union and watching Italian films, earning money by accompanying opera students on the piano, standing in a shower of crisp burgundy and burnt orange leaves when fall came, walking with a white candle in a peace demonstration, and falling in love – several times.



Here's a memorable video of Judy Collins from a 1969 Johnny Cash show. It was my first introduction to the haunting story-telling music of Jacques Brel. She sings "Desperate Ones" and "Sons Of." Cry. Laugh. Feel it. I know I do, all over again.




8 thoughts on “Green, Green, the Grass was Green

  1. I wish I’d been so self-possessed back then (I was a college freshman in 1967). It takes a lot of heat to shed mind-forged manacles. I’m not sure I ever reached the smelting point.


  2. You’d get chiggers sitting on the grass like that in North Carolina. 😉
    Unlike Phil, I arrived as a freshman totally confident and full of myself and it took graduate school in Classics to furnish me with a little humility. Academic success — and failure — are a wonderful and relatively safe way of discovering your social and intellectual limits, eh?


  3. I still love Jacques Brel. Thanks for sharing these memories, Beth. You’ve made it eary for me to relive some of my own similar experiences, in that halcyon age.


  4. The Judy Collins clip reminds me of the quality of television in those days. With only three networks and PBS, we had the highest quality of information and entertainment in that era. In my mind that period was the pinnacle of television, and the pinnacle of many other facets of American culture despite the social unrest.


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