Page 187 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 167
                Of eyewitness note: Around our table one hot summer evening, the
             fifty-something Saul Alinsky was holding his regular court and welcome
             sway, beguiling us boys with his stories and philosophy. He was very
             droll in telling us about his first encounters with Catholics. He said he
             was shocked when the first convent of nuns he organized gave him a
             novena card that offered up to God, in Saul’s name, “300 Masses, 1,200
             rosaries, and 20,000 ejaculations.” He laughed remembering the face of
             the no-nonsense nun who explained that in Catholicism an ejaculation
             means a very short prayer such as “Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy.” Into
             our virgin-pure adolescent ears, he was pouring his glistening subversive
             humor.
                I loved Saul Alinsky as a brain who liberated me from everything I
             was before I met him.
                The worst mistake of many that the Catholic Church ever made
             was sending us innocent boys off into such worldly, cynical, and saintly
             company. I think hardly more than one of the sixteen of us seminarians
             was later ordained a priest. Alinsky and the interracial experience itself
             taught us there was truth in the then popular song, “Moon River.” There
             was “such a lot of world to see.”
                Research this same TWO history in Woodlawn as experienced and
             as written by my friend since boyhood and my colleague those two sum-
             mers: the straight (Catholic and then Episcopal) priest, Frank E. Fort-
             kamp, “Bringing Christ to Woodlawn: The Story of Last Summer’s Most
             Ambitious, Large-scale, Parish Census Project in the United States,” The
             Josephinum Review, October 23, 1963.
                These Chicago activist summers were portrayed fictively in my gay
             “novel of the closet,” What They Did to the Kid: Confessions of an Altar Boy
             (1965); Kid is a prequel to Some Dance to Remember: A Memoir-Novel of
             San Francisco, 1970-1982; the protagonist and supporting characters have
             the same names in Kid as they do in Some Dance.
                When I wrote this feature article while a seminarian at the Pontifical
             College Josephinum in the summer of 1963, I did not quite know I was six
             months away from returning to Chicago to begin my career as a graduate
             student earning my doctorate at Loyola University of Chicago (1967). It
             took the death of the open-hearted and ecumenical Pope John XXIII on
             June 3, 1963, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November
             22, 1963, to slap me fully awake. The briefly liberal world tilted on its
             axis; flat-world conservatives took over the Church and the American
             government, and we young ran into the streets waving James Baldwin’s
             brand-new book, The Fire Next Time, and shouting, “Fire!”
                “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?” James
             Baldwin asked.

           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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