Note: Most of this is very much a work-in-progress. Since I did not receive word back from the owner of the button in time, I could not provide images or fully research the item. I also need to look back for a few extra bits of information in the Oracle. I might even have to research Manny’s, if that is where the button was really made.
Pat & George’s Lapel Button
New Paltz, New York
On the button reads “Pat and George’s” and “Make Orgies, Not War.” From such clues, the item places New Paltz at the heart of the counterculture movements in the mid-twentieth century, where the sexual revolution combines with dominant anti-war sentiment.
Physical Description:Cannot be determined.
Provenance: To be determined. Likely was either created at P&G’s or Manny’s between 1947 and 1980s, when the restaurant was known as Pat & George’s due to changes in ownership. Ed and Mike Beck, previous and current owners of the establishment, have no clue about the button and the whereabouts of the owners beforehand. I am currently attempting to contact the current owner of Manny’s and the owner of the lapel button in question.
Date of Creation: Between 1947 and 1980.
The button pulls New Paltz into the grand narratives of the Vietnam War and the sexual revolutions from the 1960s to 1980s. On October 14th, 1969, in the same year Edwin Beck purchased P&G’s, the Oracle publishes an open letter “sent to all New Paltz merchants concerning their role in tomorrow’s Vietnam Moratorium.” To protest the war in Vietnam, at a point when thirty-five thousand Americans have died and after five years of demonstrations and outrage, students initiated a movement to stop all town activity on October 15th, 1969. “Students and other citizens are going to suspend their normal activities by not attending school or work,” so town merchants were similarly encouraged to “not conduct business” and join with Poughkeepsie and many American communities in protest. The open letter gets more serious in its urgency for action and repercussion:
“This is part of a continuing nationwide protest that will begin on the 15th of every month with an additional day of protest each month the war continues. Thus, in November it will be a two day protest, in December three days, etc. However, we are only asking our merchants to close the FIRST protest day of each month, beginning at 12:00 noon.
Any store remaining open the first day of protest each month will be boycotted for a period of one week this month followed by an additional week each succeeding month.”
Such efforts join country-wide sentiments and actions against the war. On November 15th, 1969, more than five-hundred thousand people marched on Washington to protest the war, remaining the largest political rally in history and eliciting no response from the government. The war continued on until April 30, 1975, but the Vietnam Moratorium at New Paltz did not. (insert info about last mention of Moratorium in Oracle)
Not long after mentions of the Moratorium, Oracle issues in 1970 and 1971 feature campus events and discussions about sex in their “This Week On Campus” column. Little other news about sexual revolution activities exist in SUNY New Paltz news until the 1990s, when the school hosted a sex conference which included a lecture panel on sadomasochists, and instructional workshop on sex toys. However, mention of sex talks in the Oracle already shed light on the socially-progressive nature of the campus in the late 1960s and early 1970s, influenced by popular sex-liberating literature such as The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963) and nationally-recognized protests such as the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Such cultural exposure allowed the “Make Orgies, Not War” button to exist, as more prudent towns would never hold such items.
The lapel button finally offers the deeply rooted connection of SUNY New Paltz to its surrounding community. After Edwin Beck took ownership of Pat & George’s in 1969, he hosted a party on-campus to introduce students to the restaurant. Subsequently, issues of the Oracle featured advertisements for Pat & George’s nearly every other issue. Nick Wesley, a disgruntled student writing in the Oracle on October 14th, 1969, expresses his disapproval of the Moratorium because “P&G’s is closing for the afternoon” and such would anger many World Series fans and picketers. Prior to that academic year, there is no mention of the establishment in the campus newspaper, confirming claims on the P&G’s website that Edwin Beck’s party at SUNY New Paltz reached out “to a wider audience and gave the students… a new place to call home.”
This button explains why there is a party life at SUNY New Paltz, why students today flock to P&G’s, McGillicuddy’s, Cabaloosa, Oasis, Snugs, and many other local institutions on weekend nights for their party fixes. These restaurants and clubs can owe their late night business to Ed Beck, an ambitious business man who converted his neighborhood bar into a local institution shared by townspeople and students alike. Because of his keen interest to invite the college students off campus, demonstrated by the liberal-minded button evoking the sexual freedoms and anti-war sentiments of 1970s college students, Edwin Beck converted New Paltz into the college town it is today, flourishing due to active student involvement at off-campus institutions.
“A History of P&G’s.” P&G’s. 2012. Web. 29 March 2013.
Oracle, 1967 to 1971. Microfilm.
Skarda, Erin. “Moratorium Against the Vietnam War, Nov. 15, 1969.” Time. 28 June 2011. Web. 04 April 2013.
Wishnick, Ken. “The “Hello New Paltz” Show #113- Mike Beck.” Vimeo. 2011. Web. 29 March 2013.