Sunday, April 6

A History Lesson with a Twist

The happenings of May 4, 1970 shaped Kent State University in many ways, not the least of which is that they somehow caused Kent to be a sort of homing beacon for brainy disgruntled teens. Kent is the land of protest where you will find that former high school cheerleaders have cast aside their pompoms, uniforms, and razors for long flowery skirts, incense, and the furry legs that make hippy-wannabes the unique creatures they are. You'll find weekly protests for important things like the use of animals in research, whatever war is currently worth protesting (including the ones that do not include American troops and that no one has ever heard of outside of the four people fighting them), and probably even what day of the year New Year's should be celebrated. When you go to Kent, you make a choice your Freshman year whether to become one of "them," aka the Hippy Kids, or try to stay on the outside of that whole phenomenon.

Mr. Husband and I both chose to stay on the outside. We were vaguely aware of the entire culture, but were far too busy actually working real jobs necessary to pay for our education (and extraneous things like food and shelter) to bother with Hippy kid things. Things like going to Brady's Cafe.

Brady's Cafe was quintessential Kent State back in our day. It was a quirky little coffee shop on the very edge of campus. From the outside you could plainly see that it was a bit of a dive, and when you walked in you found yourself surrounded by so-called poets, artists, dead heads, academics, wiccans, free spirits, and probably a few new agers. The coffee was served in old, miss-matched, cracked over-sized mugs that were probably last clean sometime before those four students were murdered by National Guardsmen. On Friday nights it was the place where the deepest souls went to read their heart-felt poetic thoughts in front of an audience that appreciated words like spiritualistic, degradation, elitism, and conscientious. Wednesdays it became open mic night allowing people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities to have their voice heard, saying whatever it was that they want to say and doing so in whatever way they wanted to do it. Folk, reggae, and jazz music blended together into one supreme backdrop as the computer majors make jokes about java with Java, the political science majors joked about not inhaling, and the English majors joked about everyone else's improper use of the language.

We drove past Brady's Cafe yesterday and were, shall we say, a bit surprised that the place seems to have had a bit of a makeover. It has been turned into a . . .


Wait for it . . .





Wait for it . . .




I bet you could guess if you tried . . .



Wait for it . . .






Awesome.

And lest you think this all went down without a battle, I found the website for the Save Brady's Coalition when I was searching Google to confirm Mr. Husband and I had remembered the name right. At least those protesters didn't end up getting shot by some National Guardsmen.



I don't have a photo of the other side of the sign because I would have had to either climb a tree or stand on some daffodils to take it.




The parking lot came after the shootings. Obviously, Kent Staters aren't actually very good at protesting.

The photo above is a closeup of the photo below.





29 comments:

  1. Lookie at Alexis! And, your many uses of Barney's catchphrase REALLY added to the build up. HAHAH A Starbucks. Perfect.

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  2. Yet another reason I love Starbucks.

    But the last picture frightens me just a little. In too few years that tiny girl there could be a student on that campus, hanging out with the hippie crowd.

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  3. Really great pics.

    BTW, as I read your discription of the protesting students, I was totally reminded of that movie PCU. You know the one? Too funny.

    The hippy side of me is very sad to hear that such a landmark has been turned into yet another Starbucks. Sigh...

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  4. I would have never guessed...a Starbucks!

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  5. That last photo is so sweet. And a bit haunting.

    Really interesting post.

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  6. It's like finding out your favorite little neighborhood bookstore became a Barnes and Noble. I quite like the funky coffee houses with mismatched mugs and garage sale furniture.

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  7. Starbucks! Of course!

    Burgh Baby is all kinds of cute!

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  8. I am embarassed to admit I didn't know about this, or I just forgot. After going to the website and reading the story, that last picture made an impact. How amazing, to think that one day before we know it, our kids will be walking around a college campus, drinking coffee in coffeehouses, and possibly even attending protests.

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  9. Heh - I totally saw the Starbucks coming. You mean you actually shaved your legs? You dirty little conformist, you!

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  10. Oh wow...Starbucks is insatiable. You've unfortunately opened up a topic that I could rant about forever! I love coffee and I love coffee shops and I don't think that Starbucks makes the best of either. But you can't fight it because there aren't any other options left.

    I would recommend the Starbucked book - I only read a couple chapters, but it's pretty good.

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  11. Interesting post - I remember very vividly the day of the Kent State shootings. I was in high school and very much a hippie [I have since recovered for the most part] and it truly felt as though all of our lives were in danger. And the Starbucks taking over the coffeehouse is just too ironic!

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  12. Ironically, I was just reading about Kent State last night...it's great that Alexis got a real live history lesson!

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  13. I rarely shave my legs, but sadly it's not a form of protest, just too lazy.

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  14. My husband and I both went to high school about half an hour north of Kent State. Several of our friends (including a mutual friend you and I share), along with my sister, went to Kent State. When we were still in high school we went to Brady's Cafe to see our favorite band, a local band called Mint. They play "our song" that was our wedding dance. When we saw the Starbucks in its place we were devastated. A piece of our history was taken away. Sad day :(
    P.S. I found your blog through Jayna. You have some really funny and well written blogs. Great Blog!

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  15. We called the hippies at our school the Patchouli Porch Monkeys because (1) they stank of patchouli (I'd rather smell b.o.), and (2) they sat outside acting all natural and protestish and smoking like fiends...on and a little bit free-love-ish. Annoyed the prudish showering nerd in me a lot. But they were generally harmless (if you could get past the smell).
    I haven't been back to Ball State campus in some time...about 3 years. Justin and I just met with some people from the school last week and they filled us in on a lot of the big changes on campus. One of these days when fuel prices go back down to "reasonable" or I can run my car on kool-aide, we will take a trip back to show the boys where they will go (we told them either Ball State or a state school...can't afford anywhere else!).

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  16. the Starbucks epidemic...

    but wow... things like that (not the starbucks thing) just leave me somber...

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  17. Thanks for the history lesson. It was very interesting. I'd like to visit Kent University myself someday.

    Poor Brady's.

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  18. Glad to hear that I am not the only one not in charge of the house. I used to be, but these kids are wearin' me down. I know they are planning things when they really should be sleeping!

    Have a great day!

    Kimmy

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  19. What a great post. I feel educated.

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  20. You've got bling!

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  21. That last pic is fabulous. I love it. Even from behind she looks so reflective.

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  22. Great photos and I love the last one. Real interesting way to give a history lesson.

    -- Jonny's Mommy

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  23. Well OF COURSE it became a Starbucks! Wow, what else would it be? hee hee

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  24. I will never forget hearing about Kent State on the news; it was quite the time back then. I don't like to think back to everything that happened then; none of it was simple, that's for sure.

    That last pic really took me by surprise...she looks like such a big girl. Sort of like getting a quick peek into the future. Oh my! :)

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  25. One of my best friends from years ago attended Kent. I obviously was aware of the 1970 incident (although I was 3 at the time), but I didn't realize how Kent has carried that protest theme on. She never ever mentioned that. I guess my friend wasn't one of "them".

    Starbucks though? I don't know about that....

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  26. My dad went to Kent. I went to Ohio State--the campus book store is now a Barnes and Noble; I'd prefer Starbucks :)

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  27. For the first time I was sad to see starbucks! I've always wanted to go to the coffeeshop you described. I'm completely sad it's gone.

    Nice history lesson--I learned a bunch!

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  28. Awesome. Absolutely perfect.
    That's so sad that it's become so commercial.

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  29. Oh man... that sucks.

    Are you in Ohio? I live a stone's throw from Kent. YOU were in my hood. :)

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