50 years ago today

LBJ signing the civil rights act. A calm, convincing, and inspiring speech:

And while I’m on the subject of personal liberty, I feel the need to mention my fellow Tandem High School graduate David Garner. David’s eloquent junior year book report presentation on Robert Moses’s biography of LBJ forever changed my opinion of LBJ, David, and freedom and juvenile delinquents in general.

David was trouble from the start. He knew how to hot-wire a car, and when he needed to get to a party he would. But he’d generally leave it back near where he’d borrowed it, to save the owner any unnecessary inconvenience.

After HS I convinced him to skip out on rehab and come work in the Montana oil fields with me. When his crew moved from Idaho to Heber City, he got me to ride his Norton Commando down to Utah for him. It broke down of course, so my friend Chuck and me bought a 1969 Ford 150 for $250 in Pocatello and put the bike in the back. When the truck broke down we rewired the ignition with an extension cord, and when we finally got to Utah we gave David the truck. Somewhere I’ve got a picture of him sitting in the side basket of a Lama helicopter, catching a ride back from the seismic line before a storm closed in.

David died at the age of 28, along with three other fishermen, when their boat capsized in a night-time squall off Homer, Alaska. His body was never found, and I never got the Blind Willie Johnson LP he’d borrowed back:

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