Life Arts

Me and the Great Zucchini at UC-Berkeley, in 1973.

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H4 6/24/09

opednews.com

In the fall of 1972, I got a job as a clerk-typist in the Financial Aid Office of UC-Berkeley, in Sproul Plaza, and I worked there all during the “Watergate Months” of 1973, and…

What a time that was! 

For someone like myself whose politics were basically “socialist,” there was no lamentable aspect to the ongoing Watergate circus.  Instead, every day opened with a laugh-out-loud (LOL) and party-in-the-morning feeling, which then became full-blown delight in reaction to the daily news about Nixon’s perfidies.


In Sproul Plaze, by Snap Man at Flickr (1969)

I especially remember a grey-haired little-old-lady (LOL), Ruth Blumberg.  She was a good friend and laughing companion with a wonderful sense of humor.  But Ruth wasn’t nearly as radical as I was.  If my memory serves, Ruth was basically a First-Amendment, strongly anti-Nixon person who was furious at the President for abusing the American Constitution.  Whereas, I was simply delighted about all of the Trickster’s appalling transgressions.   

Much more clearly than I remember dear Ruth, I remember The Great Zucchini.

Regularly for a while, around 11 am, The Zucchini would be out in the Plaza, swallowing fire and telling jokes about Haldeman, Nixon, Mrs. Mitchell, Attorney General Mitchell, you name it.  About whoever was being roasted most that morning in the newspapers and their closest associates in the frying pan.  He was a fire (and-sometime-sword) swallower, stand-up comedian, and he put on a great show even if you were out of hearing range.  So workers in the Financial Aid Office – on the second floor of the main administration building – would stop at the front windows and briefly watch The Zucchini’s antics from a distance. 


Sproul Plaza and the Main Administration Building, by CTG-SF at flickr

Then when our lunch-hours came, we might walk out into the Plaza and catch the last part of The Zucchini’s show if it was still going on, before getting lunch along Telegraph Avenue or Bancroft Way, or at Kip’s on Durant around the corner.

Then that incredible springtime passed, and we stopped seeing The Great Zucchini except for once in a while.

By this time, my best friend in Berkeley was a Financial Aid Counselor.  And we had become good drinking buddies.  But to cut to the chase: the two of us were upstairs in Kip’s one night drinking pitchers of beer and shooting the breeze, when we spotting a guy who looked a lot like The Great Zucchini himself, drinking alone at the bar.  And of course, it was The Zucchini himself, and when we offered to share our pitchers with him at our table, he ambled over.

The Zucchini was burned out on Berkeley, and he told us he was heading north, to join a commune he knew about in Washington, and we’d probably never see him again at UC-Berkeley.  And so it was.  And ever will be.  I never saw The Great Zucchini again, and later that year I moved to southern Marin County, to work in a restaurant-business partly owned by a dark Italian fellow who was also a Financial Aid Counselor during the Watergate Months, in the Financial Aid Office in the Main Administration Building, in Sproul Plaza at UC-Berkeley.


Giant Zucchini, by aresauburn at Flickr (2007)

 

"How could I fail to speak with difficulty? I have new things to say." I graduated from Stanford Law School in 1966 but have never practiced. Instead, I dropped back five years and joined The Movement, but it wasn't until the 1970's that I (more...)
 
Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Atomic Bombings, With Reference to American Historical Scholarship Regarding Them Since August 9, 1945

Alex S. MacLean, Possibly the Finest Low-Altitude Aerial Photographer in the World

Black-and-White Photographs From Nicholas Nixon's Brown Sisters Series

Ten Images by Four Giants of Twentieth Century Art – Picasso, Miro, Magritte, and Chagall

Mediated Knowledge Displayed As If It Were a Landscape: Eleven Works by Vic Muniz

Cityscapes in Oil – Seven Portraits of New York and San Francisco, by Richard Estes

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
5 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

I put the word "socialist" in quotation ... by GL Rowsey on Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009 at 8:03:14 AM
Fidel Castro has come very close to a true Sociali... by John Little on Sunday, Jun 28, 2009 at 9:20:03 AM
calling myself a Cuba Socialist all these years in... by GL Rowsey on Sunday, Jun 28, 2009 at 3:40:06 PM
the Zucchini in florida???  He's around 5... by sometimes blinded on Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009 at 10:21:53 AM
And the age is right, but I can't believe THE Grea... by GL Rowsey on Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009 at 11:33:58 AM
For some reason only one Zucchini grew in my garde... by Gallaher on Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009 at 2:49:06 PM
I'm trying to think of a good LOL phrase to de... by Mikhail Lyubansky on Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009 at 10:49:16 PM