Tecla Karpen

In the Spring of 1972 just as I was becoming a College Republican of the Anti-Nixon persuasion we had a huge anti-war protest at Mankato State. I was one of over a thousand people to peacefully march to the downtown and back to the Upper Campus. 

I had been on the Student Senate and had dealt with all manor of that era's "radicals." I had very little use for some of them although I often agreed with their causes. 

The Day before the peaceful march that I participated in there had been a seizure of the bridge on Highway 169 by protesting college students.  The protesters bottled up all the traffic for over an hour including an ambulance with a patient in it. A reporter for one of the Twin City's television stations who was covering the blockage had his cameraman film the empty Boones Farm wine bottles and beer cans which littered the highway afterward. This, of course, sullied the idealism of the youthful blockaders. 

On the following day, at the peaceful march which I attended, the march ended with a rally. The marchers settled themselves in the middle of the campus and several speakers addressed the crowd on a platform with microphones. A gaggle of the most militant protesters got up after a few speakers and demanded that the reporter who had mentioned the boozy aspect of the highway protest come forward and explain himself.

The reporter reluctantly walked over to the microphone but before he could get a word out the radicals heaped abuse on him and shouted him down.

I was so furious I stood up from the back of the crowd and hollered in my loudest voice, "Shut up you god dammed sunofabitches and let the man speak."  The rabble turned around, looked at me, shut up and sat down. 

The reporter thus freed said simply, "I just reported what I saw."

Only one person ever commented on my act and that was the teacher I had taken for a college speech class, Tecla Karpen. The next day she told me how much she admired what I had done and said she wished she had done it herself. I think that's the best compliment I've ever received.