When I was about 10 years old, I used to petal my bicycle by Babe's three or four times a week. That seedy little Ventura Boulevard bar was right on my Green Sheet paper route (Now known as The Daily News). Swooshing by there at about 6:30 a.m., on my black and chrome Schwinn Corvette, I always tossed a copy of the morning paper though the front door. The paper was free and so was my sarcastic "good morning" to all those assembled for a touch of the "Hair of the Dog" at that early hour. It took another eleven years for me to realize how the memory of this West San Fernando Valley bar would forever hold it's place in that strange area located between my ears.
The recent release of the film "Bobby", has stirred some some of those old thoughts. A few logs have been thrown into the fire, and if you are standing next to me you might smell a little smoke. I haven't seen the film yet, (It's high on my Yet list), but I will. With that said, I can tell you exactly where I was on June 6th, 1968, the night Bobbie Kennedy was shot.
In 1968, an eighteen year old could easily find themselves in Vietnam lying face down in a rice paddy. (I was one of the lucky deferred ones, married and with a daughter at the ripe age of seventeen) The catch was, you could fight but you couldn't vote until you were twenty-one.
I turned 21 in mid May of that year and on the afternoon of June 5th, I had the opportunity to exercise my voter responsibility for the first time. Like many of my peers, I thought that Robert Kennedy would make a fine president and I voted accordingly.
Later that night, I met up with some friends for some drinks, a few pool games and a lot of televised election results. Now that I was a card carrying of the fraternal order of beer drinkers, Babe's Bar didn't look the least bit sleazy to me. In fact, it was downright cozy. I was bemused by my obviously youthful prejudicial misjudgement of the establishment.
We were all a "bit to the wind" as we stood , pool cues in hand, waiting for Bobby to appear at the promised press conference. I had turned to make a pool shot when someone in the bar yelled, "He's been shot, Kennedy has been shot." As quick as that, my first vote was invalidated finally and irrevocably. We stayed glued to that screen for the rest of evening. It was a sad time for America.
Babe's is long closed and demolished, a bank has risen out of it's ashes. To this day, I can't drive by that corner of Topanga and Ventura, without thinking what might have been. No morals given here, nor discussions of conspiracies, just telling you where I was the day Bobby was shot.
WORLD - AN EDGE IN MY VOICE
Copyright © 2010 Steven Lane
Babe's Bar and Bobby Kennedy
Copyright © 2010 Steven Lane
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