Friday, October 12, 2007

Welcome Pinko Commie Visitor...

A recent conversation about the good old college days reminded me of the time in 1961 when a Communist was invited to the campus in San Diego to brag how they had kicked the French out of Vietnam.

I was the official photographer then at the young University of San Diego and quickly became excited that I would probably be the "pool photographer" providing my pictures to not only the Union-Tribune local paper, but also to AP, UPI, Time and Life magazines and... The World! Not bad for a 22-year old former Marine photographer.

Posters popped up all over the College For Men and excited, animated groups clustered in hallways, classrooms and the cafeteria to talk about the commie bast**ds or Freedom of Speech. A Vietnamese priest who taught us French vowed to stand up and debate this Russkie.

Since I was on a photography scholarship I went to my Journalism professor Father Bremner for details on how "we" would handle coverage of this impending international event. He had me close his office door and he explained it was a hoax. I was sworn to secrecy. He wanted to shake up the faculty and students and get them to think.

Well, the students assembled, the phony Commie came up to the stage and remained seated when we all stood up to say a prayer and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He started speaking with a raspy accent and, in a few moments, the young Vietnamese priest was exchanging facts and challenges and my classmates were getting riled up, chanting and an early 60s polite student way.

Father Bremner took the microphone and stopped everything to reveal that the "Communist leader" was actually a local DJ called "Happy Hare" (Harry Martin) and they planned to do this at several other schools around the area.

The overall feeling by the students was "we had been had."

John B. Bremner in 1980 wrote "WORDS ON WORDS," a sharp and witty handbook to the ordered tangle of the English language. At that time he was the Oscar S. Stauffer Distinguished Professor of Journalism at the University of Kansas.

I DID have a full page photo published in LIFE in 1964. On an entirely different matter.

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