I'm not saying it was safe or smart to do it, only that I did. I even managed to survive, lived to tell the tale, though I still wonder what happened to the two guys I met who were on the flat car I had clambered onto.
1963 was the year MLKing made a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. I was there but standing so far back in the crowd, what I remember is how overwhelming it felt to be in that crowd, among so many people gathered all at once, all gathered for the sake of a powerful moral cause.
I had hated, vehemently, the institutional and individual instances of racism I'd encountered in my youth. Bah, humbug to all of that. Nothing about it was appealing. Not being allowed to enter a place because I or the person/people I was with were the "wrong color?" Not my idea of acceptable. Not being allowed to enjoy the company of someone or some group of someones because they or I were the "wrong color?" Not being allowed ... to talk, to walk, to schmooze? Why not? None of any of that was acceptable. Not to me, anyway. Not ever.
One fine day, that summer of '63, a tarantula scuttled across the concrete patio by my friend Marilyn's place in Tempe where I was staying. Startled the heck out of me, it did - enough to drop the Superfly-size bottle of Shalimar I was holding, a gift from someone who got it I dunno wherefrom. The lovely glass-stoppered vial shattered to bits. Marilyn told me her fig-tree-shaded patio reeked of fine French perfume until a monsoon rolled in, later that fall.
Not a good omen, you might say, and you'd be right. Love affairs went awry, a good many of the plans that were made had to be shifted. Even if "No blame," as the I Ching says, was the rule, there was a moment later that same summer when the image of a tiger came into my head. It appeared while we were scrambling, for the first time, over the mesa east of Cordes Junction, exploring what has since become the site of Arcosanti.
"Tiger, tiger, burning bright..." Therefore, yes, may our house be safe from tigers...