We Have a Son! – Berkeley & COBS, 1967-1968


My wife, Karen Holdaway Miller, gave birth to our son, Ethan Isaac, on May 16, 1967, in Oakland, CA.

Very little Ethan and me, Berkeley,

Very little Ethan and me, Berkeley, Spring 1967 (photo Karen Miller)

Ethan and me, Berkeley, 1967

Ethan and me, Berkeley, 1967 (photo Karen Miller)

Ethan and Karen, Berkeley

Ethan and Karen, Berkeley, 1967

Ethan on table, 6th Street, Berkeley, 1967

Ethan on table, 6th Street, Berkeley, 1967

"Ethan's World", 6th Street, Berkeley, CA, 1967

“Ethan’s World”, 6th Street, Berkeley, CA, 1967

Ethan, practicing his moves for his eventual avocation as a DJ

Ethan, already at work on his DJ moves

Meanwhile, I was hard at work at UC-Berkeley.

GradeReportMarch'67

GradeReportJune'67

In the summer of 1967, Karen, Ethan and I relocated to the new Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) “mobile” HQ at Lake City, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. We were headquartered at the Ryan Ranch, which sat on the far side of the Lake Fork (of the Gunnison) River. It’s now a Nature Conservancy property. We did a lot of exploratory stuff in that first San Juan summer. Harry and Libby Frishman were also there, and we became good friends.

Columbine

Columbine

Colorado Outward Bound School, first "mobile" course in the san Juan Mountains of Colorado. Summer, 1967

Colorado Outward Bound School, first “mobile” course in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Summer, 1967

Colorado Outward Bound School, first "mobile" course in the san Juan Mountains of Colorado. Summer, 1967

Colorado Outward Bound School, first “mobile” course in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Summer, 1967

Colorado Outward Bound School, first "mobile" course in the san Juan Mountains of Colorado. Summer, 1967

Colorado Outward Bound School, first “mobile” course in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Summer, 1967

Gary Templin, left, directed the San Juan operation

Left to right: Gary Templin,who directed the San Juan operation, Andy Lichtman and Ann Bliss. Elk Creek, 1967

Me, with cutthroat

Me, with a fat cutthroat trout

Parry primrose and Marsh marigold, 1967

Parry primrose and Marsh marigold, 1967

Rio Grande Pyramid and the Window

Rio Grande Pyramid and the Window

Terry Burnell, an English climber

COBS instructor Terry Burnell, an English climber

Trinity Peak, in the Grenadier Range

West Trinity Peak, in the Grenadier Range

Wildflowers

Penstemon, scarlet gilia and coneflower

Avalanche lily

Avalanche lily

UC-Berkeley diploma, signed by Ronald Reagan. He was then the Governor of California

UC-Berkeley diploma, signed by Ronald Reagan, Dec. 1967.  Reagan was then the Governor of California.

Phi Beta Kappa. You get in if you were in the top 10% of your class

Phi Beta Kappa. You get in if you were in the top 10% of your class

I got my BA in Dec. 1967, with my grades good enough to get me “into” Phi Beta Kappa. I went right into grad school, in the Dep’t. of Anthropology, specializing in Physical Anthropology. This was in the Winter quarter of 1967-1968.

Letter of admission to UC-Berkeley graduate school, Sept. 1967

Letter of admission to UC-Berkeley graduate school, Sept. 1967

Backside of above admission letter. This was our place on 6th Street, seen above. The slum lord eventually screwed us out of our damage deposit, pretending he could not speak or understand English.

Backside of above admission letter. This was our place on 6th Street, seen above. This “lousy area” has since been considerably gentrified. The slum lord eventually screwed us out of our damage deposit, pretending he could not speak or understand English.

Postcard, Dec. 1967

Postcard, Dec. 1967

Graduate school grades

Graduate school grades

But the emphasis of the Physical Anthro staff and students was not exactly what I was looking for. It was primarily centered on primate studies and paleoanthropology. I wanted to pursue studies in the biological basis of human behavior. My advisor, Sherwood Washburn, suggested I transfer to Harvard, and study with Irven DeVore. He got me in, and, in the Fall of 1968, Karen, Ethan and I moved to Cambridge, Mass. DeVore and Richard Lee were running the Harvard Kung Bushmen project, and this kind of study inspired me. The idea was that studying nomadic hunters-gatherers provided one with information on humanity’s original social adaptations, prior to the disruption wrought by the invention of agriculture and the founding of cities. It is now commonly appreciated that the hunter-gatherer way of life was based on small-group reciprocity, the absence of coercive authority, little warfare and a low birth rate – that it was, in other words, “sustainable”, having persisted for 99% of human history. The way of life that replaced it – mass societies ruled by elites – has now brought humanity to the brink of self-annihilation, and many now agree that the experiment called “civilization” has proved a failure. What to make of this development? Humans are not “bad”. Only some of us are bad – meaning, in most instances, greedy. In small-scale, face-to-face hunter-gatherer societies, the greed of individuals could be kept in check, through peer group pressure. Someone who was “bossy” got put in his/her place. Truly incorrigible persons would be sent away … or murdered. Nothing that threatened to disrupt consensus decision-making, and the peace, harmony and the egalitarian relationships of one to the other could and would be tolerated. But … this mechanism required that a hunter-gatherer society be small enough that everyone knew everyone else. After the invention of agriculture, the resulting aggregations of people that inhabited the first villages and then cities no longer had the means by which to control the greedy. The greedy got control of the first wealth – stored agricultural products – and immediately hired goons to protect their advantage, and priests to legitimize that advantage. This circumstance has stayed unchanged from the day (seven or eight thousand years ago) that it began, to the present. There are still kings in this world, along with plenty of oligarchs, and death remains the usual penalty for defying authority. This system has led to the pillaging of earth’s resources, so that the wealthy may become yet wealthier. But how much longer can this kleptocratic civilization last – now that the world begins to deal with the consequences of climate change/sea-level rise, resource depletion, overpopulation, and all the other insults that our natural world now faces? This is the kick-off to the end game, and what follows won’t be pretty.

Karen, Ethan and I travelled to Oregon the next summer, to work with the Northwest Outward Bound School. See the next post.

https://believesteve.org/2016/02/11/northwest-outward-bound-school-summer-1968/

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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