The Campus Cop Who Changed My Life

Back in my day, circa late 1970s, Santa Monica (Calif.) High School was a melting pot of a wide cross section of ethnicities, races and social-economic backgrounds. Santa Monica, a Southern California beach community of about 100,000 people, had its fair share of diversity in its own right. In addition, poor inner-city kids from Los Angeles as well as affluent kids from Malibu were bussed in each day. While things ran fairly smoothly most of the time, there were occasions when tensions arose within the student body’s population of nearly 4,000.

Having been a music and audio equipment devotee since childhood, I was among the first to tote a portable stereo system – shortly thereafter referred to “boom boxes” or “ghetto blasters” – to my school. I would hang out in the quad or elsewhere on campus and blast custom mixed tapes of funky music I had recorded through this $250 system. I went through six D-cell batteries on a daily basis!

Being that this was long before the hip-hop attitude and style crossed over to other cultures, a white teen immersed in black culture with a stereo constantly glued to his hand cranking out the latest R&B tunes stirred up some resentment among blacks and ridicule among whites. But music was my vice and made it much easier for me to get through school.

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