In Memory of Tom Hayden

By Darryl Holter

I was saddened to learn of the death of Tom Hayden yesterday morning.  I read a lot of his writings in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and was especially affected by The Port Huron Statement, a manifesto for the New Left and one of the most important political documents of the times, which was largely written by Tom.  I talked to Tom once at an airport when he was working on Jerry Brown’s campaign for President.   A few years later I wrote him to ask some organizational questions about his LA-based group, Campaign for Economic Democracy, and he wrote back and answered them.

About ten years ago I was asked to give a lecture on “Students in the Sixties” for a history course at USC.  I grabbed my old copy of The Port Huron Statement and, after leaving work around 5:30, walked across the street to the old Figueroa Hotel, where I often sat at a little table in the mezzanine overlooking the hotel lobby, next to the bar, and wrote.  No one was there, so it was very quiet.  I started re-reading the Port Huron Statement and began writing my lecture.

After about an hour, I heard someone walking up the steps.  I heard a voice ask, “Is the bar open up here?”

“No,” I replied.  “It’s only open up here when the large bar downstairs is rented for a private party.”

“Ok, thanks,” he responded.  I glanced in his direction, and imagine my surprise!

“Tom, come here!  Take a look at what I’m reading!  What a coincidence!”

He came over and we laughed.  He said, “C’mon downstairs and let me buy you a beer.”

I agreed and we had a good chat for about 45 minutes, mostly sharing old war stories (or I should say, old anti-war stories).

Then Tom said, “Come out to my car for a minute,” and I followed.  He opened the trunk and took out two of his latest books and handed them to me.  “Just like the old times,” I said. “Handing out political tracts from the trunks of our cars.”  He laughed, shook my hand, and we said our goodbyes.

I never saw him again.

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