You’ve probably all heard the joke about the Polish version of Paul Revere who rides down Mitchell Street on a garbage truck yelling, “the niggers are coming,” but I bet you haven’t heard the one about the West Allis Paul Revere who rides down Greenfield Avenue in a limousine yelling “the hippies are coming.” Not funny? Well, it isn’t supposed to be. Assemblyman Robert T. Huber of West Allis is not a funny man. He’s sad, sick and at the very least rather ‘hung-up.’ Huber was greatly upset over what occurred at the recent Midwest Rock Festival. He accused the ‘hippies’ of turning West Allis and the Fair Park into a ‘pigsty’ and said the ‘semi-orgies’ and ‘almost promiscuity’ were bad enough to make ‘Haight Ashbury blush.’ (Is a semi-orgy like being semi-pregnant?) He even accused Fair administrator Vernon Wendland of allowing the Festival for the express purpose of upsetting the residents of West Allis to the point where they would want the fair removed.
Huber said he had personally seen these ‘semi-orgies’ being conducted by the people from out of town who were allowed to camp on the Fair Grounds, and also implied that the Fair police allowed ‘dope addiction’ to go unmolested. Huber, in the grossest example of blue nosing since four old ladies in Connecticut got their male neighbor arrested for not wearing a shirt in 1907, called a meeting at the West Allis City Hall to discuss the matter with West Allis officials and Fair representatives. Mayor Arnold H. Klentz of West Allis presided at the meeting held on July 30. He proudly introduced Huber who began the whole thing with a hit of political back-rubbing, commenting, “I guess this is as close to this desk (the mayor’s desk) as I’ll ever get, but then the Mayor is doing such a fine job.” The back rub over with, Huber proceeded to tear into everyone from Hippies down to the Fair administrator, Vern Wendland. He accused the hippies of being “far less than discreet” and said what he saw Saturday night bordered on “total promiscuity.” He accused Wendland of not co-operating with West Allis authorities and of not informing them of the festival until the day before (despite the fact that they Festival was advertised all over this area and anyone reading a paper or listening to the radio was probably well aware of the festival). He chided Wendland by saying, “If those people spent as much time to clean up the fair as they are spending to try to move the fair we’d not be here today.”
Huber claimed that “there was at will smoking of pot, and issuing of pills and I can’t describe what they were.” Huber then called on West Allis Police Chief Louis Reinach to back him up. He told a “story” about a 17 year old girl who had been forced to take a ‘pill’ and then had been “criminally assaulted,” and added that the girl was “bleeding from her private parts.” The chief did not mention whether or not the girl was having her period and how he knew she was bleeding but then those are thoughts one can speculate over before falling asleep. The good Chief then read a letter from a filling station owner who damned the hippies, as “filthy animals” and told how there were obscenities scrawled over his walls with wet Kotex napkins. “I was so sick from what I saw that I wanted to throw up.” What he saw is best exemplified by how he described the ‘young people.’ “We were invaded by animals, heavily bearded and long haired—their eyes had a wide-open glassy stare.” He accused them of stealing over a hundred dollars worth of goods from his place.
At this point the unexpected happened, some people from West Allis spoke up in support of these “filthy animals.” Paul Fleming, owner of the A&W on 78th and Greenfield told the assembly that “Their manners, speech and regard for authority was impeccable except for a few.” He said he served thousands of ‘them’ and was very pleased with their behavior. He also pointed out how if he had been ‘invaded’ by that many of the South Side’s own Outlaws, he would have closed the place down. He told Huber, “They didn’t act like SDS at the National Convention—no reflection on your party or mind, Mr. Huber.” He also praised Wendland for doing a superb job. As far as dope was concerned, Fleming told Huber “you can find it at Central, Hale, Plus, and at Sin City—UW at Madison—they’re going nuts up there, too.”
Chet Mikolajek, Secretary of the West Allis Downtown Businessmen’s Association, also praised the behavior of the young people. “I sold out all the Levis I had.” He added, “they were well behaved, absolutely.” Besides Mikolajek and Fleming, Jerry Grant, the lawyer for the Festival corporation, defended the young people and praised the State Fair administration. He accused Huber of using “innuendo tactics.” Grant also pointed out that if there was any chance of violence occurring, Wendland and the Fair police prevented it. Peter Knapp, president of the Festival, also praised Wendland and said the Festival was an artistic success, though a financial failure, and promised that there would be more in the future.
This promise promptly brought West Allis Alderman Urban Ganser to his feet. Ganser spewed out what was really on everyone’s mind in West Allis—not drugs, not rock music, not “semi-orgies,” but a pure and bitter hate, Ganser said, “The facts are getting a little out of line. We don’t want you back, period! This kind of stuff around our town we don’t want. We don’t care whether you are proper or not, we don’t like it. Take it someplace else. We don’t need you here. I thank Gah it rained and was cold. My people were thoroughly disgusted.”
Both Wendland and Fair Chief Reinach tried to defend themselves, but anything they could have said was really meaningless after Ganser’s “semi-bigotry.” One of the questions that the promoters may have asked before they planned the Festival was, “is Milwaukee ready for it?” Well folks, Milwaukee is ready, but West Allis is hardly ready for the steam car, and it doesn’t look like they’ll ever be. Sadistic, drunken race fans are one thing, but hippies… UGH!
Too bad that the State Fair had to be caught in the middle of the whole thing. Their treatment of the rock fans showed the intelligence and compassion, human qualities apparently hard to find in West Allis officialdom.