Saturday, April 25, 2009
New Paltz in the 60s
A Yahoo group has started for reminiscences of those days, and Henry Cavanagh has posted one of his columns for the SUNY New Paltz Oracle, remembering ties and jackets on campus in the early sixties. That reminded me of this story:
It would have been 1965, I guess, the year I arrived. The Jazztet -- Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller -- were playing on campus in the Old Main auditorium. I went to see them with my friends Dave Roach and Walter Donnaruma, himself a great jazz musician, returned from playing piano in a cantina in Mexico to come back to school. We arrived, presented our tickets, and were turned away by the sorority sisters who were running the concert. You can't go in. What do you mean, we can't go in? We have our tickets -- we paid for them.
You can't go in. You don't pass the dress code test. You're not wearing ties.
We protested. Cajoled. Jazz was our religion then. Threatened. Cajoled some more. Finally they let us in, but only allowed us to sit in the back row.
Wow...I'd forgotten all about this. A couple of days later, I was approached by the Inquiring Photographer for the Oracle, asking me about the incident. I don't remember what I said -- it's probably in the Oracle's files somewhere. I do remember that I was set up. When the issue came out, my response was there, along with the responses of five or six sorority girls who had all been shown mine, and had at me, dripping with sarcasm.