In the early 1970s, I was prime draft bait, attending San Jose State in the Bay Area. I was a journalism major, and we were all thinking we were destined to break a story like the Pentagon Papers, to be the next Bernstein and Woodward. . . or if we did enough d**gs, perhaps, the next Hunter S. Thompson. It was a heady time in that place and moment in history, and I felt myself to be as much an activist as a budding writer. I had many literary illusions about my own wordsmithing, as well as dreams of breaking the big story in some prime media outlet. The notion that I might have to pay my dues doing city council stories and covering social events for a small town paper was foreign to me, but the journalism department at State was a pretty good one. The reality of the business of journalism was made clear soon enough, and while I may have dropped out later chasing my dream of writing the Great American Hippie Novel, I was still attached to the idea that the news was important.
During my first two years, while taking some basic newswriting courses, I handled my general ed requirements in an honors program in “Letters and Sciences,” which is clearly ambiguous enough to cover a whole multitude of sins. A good GPA and College Board scores ensured my entry there, where I met Allison, who snidely commented once that the program was basically meant to baby sit us for two years because we were too damn smart to be taught by making us chase after the usual elective pre-requisites.
Allison was a six foot tall Amazon of a woman with long, curly hair of the type Robert Crumb caricatured as “Jewish hippie” in some underground comic. She was moderately lean and athletic, but with strong, long legs and a pear shaped rump that was so at home in a tight pair of Sea Farers. She had strong features and green eyes, an expressively mobile face that occasionally broke out in the heartiest of laughs. But she was also possessed of a deep, sexy contralto voice that I was to come to know all too well. She and another lively woman, from an East Bay town along the Sacramento River delta, lived in the same dorm complex I did. They frequently came down to our lair to party and giggle with the eccentric bunch I hung out with, a mixture of arts and journalism types, and joined in at least one expedition to San Francisco to march against the Late Unpleasantness in Southeast Asia.