Ohio (3rd installment of 4 parts)

At dawn Kevin showered, dressed and told her to meet him in front of Taylor Hall on main campus at 12:30. Buttoning his un-Georgie-like yellow sweater, he told her he would take her to his favorite restaurant for lunch where he wanted her to tell him everything about herself, adding in a childish and yet earnest tone, “I want to be a proper suitor—I’ll bring you a flower—what kind do you like?” Barely awake Cheryl said “Red Rose—a bud—no vase—I may wear it in my hair,” she snickered, falling back asleep—and slept until after 11.

She would have slept right through her lunch date with Kevin if the maid hadn’t knocked on her door about 11:15 to change the sheets and clean the room. In a near panic Cheryl leaped out of bed and into the shower, washing her hair, carefully combing the conditioner through her hair, rinsing it then combing it through a second time.

Not normally a woman to spend a lot of time on make-up, she painstakingly applied eye-liner, mascara, eye shadow, blush, artificial lashes, looked in the mirror and decided she looked like the whore of Babylon—then laughed to herself—last night she was the whore of Babylon. She had surprised herself with the uncompromising passion she felt toward Kevin—it was as though she had been waiting for him her entire life. She washed all the make-up off and started again.

At noon Cheryl was on campus walking toward Taylor Hall. She heard a bell ringing and remembered something the local driver had said about a “Victory Bell” that was rung whenever Kent State  teams won a game.

As she rounded the corner she was surprised to see a crowd of at least 500 people—mostly students—many of them carrying home-made signs demanding the U.S. get out of Cambodia  and Viet-Nam,”bring home the troops,” “bring home the war.” Several kids wore Richard Nixon masks and were holding both arms over their heads, flashing the double victory sign.

The air was electric with impending conflict. As she stood with her back against the entrance to Taylor Hall watching the huge crowd of protesters, a contingent of 70 to 80 Ohio National Guardsmen carrying rifles with fixed bayonets, came around the right side of Taylor. They moved directly toward the milling crowd which began to break up—one large group moving toward a parking lot—several smaller groups moving in various directions.

As the company of soldiers moved past, Cheryl immediately spotted Kevin’s brother—again she had that curious response of noting a resemblance to Georgie and certainly to Kevin—but not the slightest attraction.

The crowd began throwing rocks. The soldiers put on gas masks and began throwing tear-gas canisters which members of the crowd picked up and threw back—because of the wind the gas didn’t seem to make much difference. Groups of kids chanted “Pigs off campus.”

The soldiers began advancing toward the largest group which fell back as the troops moved toward them. With kids throwing rocks, cafeteria trays and yelling profanity, the soldiers moved across the open expanse of campus in front of Taylor and over a low rise where they stopped for a few minutes on a baseball diamond. They turned around and completed a huge loop, crossing in front of Taylor then stopped to form ranks to the right of the building where they had first appeared.

A large bunch of kids had again formed in front of Taylor—the yelling and throwing of things at the troops continued at an even higher pitch. The crowd could sense the soldiers were uncertain.

End third installment

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