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Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole

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An excerpt from Hunga Dunga, Confessions of an Unapologetic Hippie
(He's got it happening on a Saturday, but it was Sunday April 20, 1969. Aron Kay the Pieman says the concert was at the Rose Avenue slab, and there were 20,000 people present.)

Exerpt from the Evening Outlook of the next day, April 21

Exerpt from Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole, describing another incident in the same year.

Apparently there was yet another incident in 1969, when the Free Venice movement tried to have a parade on the 4th of July, which was stopped by hundreds of police.

from Hunga Dunga:
Confessions of an Unapologetic Hippie

by Phil Polizatto

Saul, being more practical than I, was more concerned with the Free Press concert happening that Saturday. It was supposed to be a love-in/anti-war gathering. Right there on that expanse of beach between Pacific Ocean Park and where Venice proper started. The line up consisted of Spirit, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Taj Mahal, interspersed with anti-war speeches. For a change, we would be on the stage itself and not on scaffolds. Still, it was just more go-go dancing. And we'd be doing it for free just like all the other entertainers. Saul said the exposure would be good for us and the Free Press would mention our name.

Saturday morning I awoke to the sounds of people walking, running, roller skating past the studio. Hardly unusual except for the numbers of them. I peeked through my window and saw a steady stream of bare chests, tie-dyed halter tops, beach towels, ice-chests, picnic baskets, banners and signs. The concert didn't start til one, but the crowds were arriving early.

My gang arrived around eleven. We warmed up with sun exercises and calisthenics. Then we each took a half a tab of acid and headed for the beach a block away. It wasn't Woodstock, but it was as dense. The stage was about twenty feet from the boardwalk and faced the ocean. A small crew was finishing up and a skinny, balding, bearded guy was doing a sound check. On the far right were the pilings of the pier and the skeleton of the rollercoaster silhouetted by the blazing sun. On the far left was a massive, partially buried pipe. The part that stuck out of the sand was a good three feet high. It ran from god knows where in the bowels of Venice or Santa Monica to spill god knows what into the ocean. In the hundred yards or so between the pipe and the pier, the boardwalk and the ocean, were thousands of people arranging blankets, putting on lotion, smoking pot, tripping out.

It was a real family affair. Nuclear and otherwise. Lots of kids of all ages. Young hippie moms breast-feeding their newborns. Young hippie dads sporting their tots on their shoulders. Lots of short-haired liberals who sympathized with the drop-outs, but hadn't yet themselves. Who maybe wanted to, but couldn't.

They were the people who had complied with two of Leary's suggestions. They had turned on. They had tuned in. But the dropping out was left to the hippies, the flower children. These were the stoned, young, left-wing members of the establishment, who enjoyed the fringe element of the freaks. Who counted on them to bring fun, color, and diversity into the culture. And who would fight passionately for their right to express themselves as free spirits. They knew that by securing the rights of the fringe, they were securing their own.

These were the young blue-collar and white-collar workers who relished the uninhibited cavorting but who were too shy to cavort themselves. These were the modern politicos who wanted the freaks to be the scene while they worked behind the scenes. These were the peacemakers, environmentalists and civil rights activists who worked within the system. These were the true revolutionaries who were the salt of the new earth we were going to make. The pillars of the future society that would bring in the Aquarian Age. The freaks, the hippies, the flower children had already dropped out and were leaving the earth's atmosphere, creating lifestyles, language, fashions and issues that would, they hoped, become part of the mainstream culture in following years.

It was a wonderful day. Everyone was on a high. Spirit really got everyone on their feet. Dancing. Swaying. Gettin' down! The speeches were empowering and solidified the crowd's resolve against the war. They knew that the threat from the outside was now and forever a lie. They knew that the country had better start thinking in a new way. And they knew that these rallies were meant to attract the media and make people pay attention. They needed a venue where their opposition could be clearly seen and loudly heard. So they rose to the occasion and hooted and whistled and hollered at the top of their lungs in response to buzz words that echoed through the loudspeakers. But the crowd was there as much for the music as they were to make a statement. They were there to have a good time and have some fun.

The vibes everywhere were great, and though I and the other dancers had dispersed among the crowd, there was no need to work it. So when the next band walked on stage and began tuning up, I started back toward the stage and hoped the rest of the crew weren't too stoned by now to find their way back. I was flashing my badge at one of the security guys in front of the stage. That's when I saw them.

All along the boardwalk, from the pier to the sewer pipe, stood an impenetrable wall of LA's finest decked out in full riot gear.

Where had they come from? All of a sudden like that? Didn't anyone see them approaching? Was it possible an entire stadium-load of people could collectively be so oblivious to their arrival?

I followed the wall of chest-shielded, head-helmeted, face-masked robots. They just stood there at the ready, most holding clubs, some lightly bouncing them in their open palms. Legs slightly apart, solidly grounded, black leather chaps catching the glare of the sun, they looked like a thick wrought iron fence. I looked to the right and saw the crowd begin to notice the fence extending quickly along the length of the pipe almost all the way to the surf. A wave of bad vibes crashed upon the crowd.

The negative energy was palpable. It cut through the crowd quickly like a scythe through grass. The panic in the air was razor sharp. You could feel people working hard to keep their acts together. Trying to be calm. Buddies continuing to drink their beer and assuming forced poses of macho nonchalance. Boyfriends telling their girlfriends to be calm. Mothers calmly gathering up their kids. Dads calmly, but firmly, persuading them it was time to go. But the kids knew something was wrong. Like a dog sensing an earthquake. Like a gull sensing a hurricane.

One of the anti-war speakers grabbed the microphone. She tried to keep the crowd, now on the very edge, from falling off. She tried reason. She tried humor. She tried sarcasm. Someone from the Free Press was talking with a riot squad honcho. The cop had his arms impatiently akimbo, while the Free Press guy used his hands and arms freely, gesturing first toward the crowd, then to the police, then back to the crowd, trying to communicate reason over mayhem. The colorful shirt he wore made him look like a sailor flagging semaphore. I could tell he wasn't getting anywhere when he threw his hands into the air. In the meantime, the crowd was becoming more anxious and vocal. A verbal assault on the cops was gaining momentum from the braver souls, while others were, as inconspicuously as possible, trying to make their way off the beach. An empty pop bottle soared over my head toward the boardwalk and before it fell short of its mark, I saw the head honcho look toward his men, nod slightly, and yell, "Clear the area. Now!"

Suddenly it was chaos. Clubs cracking skulls. Kids screaming and being trampled by both the cops and the crowd. Some people putting up a fight. Guys trying to rip the masks from the cops' faces to get something to punch at. Feisty women kicking and biting their assailants. Kids trying to hang on to, but then violently bucked off, the bronco legs of police who were trying to pummel their dads. Lots of bleeding. Lots of pleading. Lots of stoned, dazed acid-heads trying to get a grip. People running every which way trying to escape. Many were backed up to the ocean and more than a few began swimming out into the water beyond the reach of the incessant swinging clubs. The rest scrambled blindly trying to reach the pier or zigzag through the police to the boardwalk. A typhoon of colors. A tornado of demons. A torrent of pathetic faces, their expressions disfigured by anger and fear and panic. A tsunami of nightmares in the blazing California sun.

I ducked under the stage and when the first row of cops charged the beach, made a run for the boardwalk and ran as fast as I could toward my studio. I looked behind me. Close at my heels were another forty or so people and a half block behind them about 10 of the storm troopers. I fiddled with the keys and got the door to my studio opened just in time, but not in enough time to prevent the crowd from rushing in behind me. When we were all inside, we locked the door and started piling everything we could against it. As we pushed the piano into place we could see the silhouettes of clubs on the other side of the painted plate glass windows.

The silhouettes got nearer and darker and crashed through the glass sending shards and slivers everywhere. One of the cops lobbed in a canister. The gas quickly permeated the air. People were screaming. The cops batted the remaining glass out of their way and entered through the windows. The people inside were either blindly confused and tearfully running right into their clutches, or lying in a frozen crumple on the floor.

At the first sound of the breaking glass, I ran to the very rear of the studio, lifted the madras wall hanging and scurried out the little back door onto the pier. I made my way as furtively as I could to the Tilt-a-Whirl. To the car that had the loose seat cushion. The seat was hollow and I used to hide my stash there sometimes when I had a paranoically large amount. I scrunched in and fiddled with the cushion until it fell back into place. About a half hour later, I heard two cops walking around, talking, turning over barrels and crates. Then silence. I stayed in my hiding place until late that night.

I had never before referred to cops as "pigs" even though at the time it was a perfectly politically correct thing to do. We are all divine. I always tried to remind myself of that. I made a habit of saying it to myself when I got mad. The same way other people counted to 10, that's how I said we are all divine.

We are all divine. We are all divine. We are all divine. We are all divine.

I worked hard not to slur anybody. But this night, I learned the meaning of the word "pig" and knew many things would have to change before I stopped using it.

I sneaked back to the studio but was afraid to turn on any lights. I leaned my mattress against the wall and stuffed a narrow piece of foam under it. There, in that little cave, I huddled until dawn, wondering how the world would react when it learned of my early retirement from The Dance.

It didn't take much light of day to see that practically everything was destroyed. The piano, the stereo, the few furnishings. All my records lay smashed and strewn across the floor. If I stared at them without blinking, I could imagine they were part of the design of the tile. I threw a few pieces of clothing in my backpack, walked to the highway, stuck one thumb north and the other thumb south. That's how I ended up spending the night in Laguna with Josie.

Evening Outlook Monday, April 21, 1969
Cutline of the photo says:
Venice Officer Struck By Bottle A Venice division officer falls to the ground holding his head where he was struck by a thrown bottle as police moved out thousands of "hippies" and other beachgoers following a disruptive "love-in" in Venice.

Beach 'Love-In' Police, Hippies Battle in Venice
By Dave Berman

Police cleared Venice Beach from the old POP Pier to the Pavilion of 14,000 people Sunday, arrested 108, and thwarted a possible gigantic public orgy in the process. The crowd was present for the Los Angeles Free Press' free concert and "love-in." Capt. Robert Sillings of the Venice division said intelligence information indicated the largely "hippie" throng had planned a "clutch-in" or a "cluster.

Beach Orgy
The plan was for people to form a huge circle around a couple on the beach who would have intercourse. Slowly, other couples would join in, Sillings said his reports revealed. One couple was arrested for lewd conduct after the girl danced topless while her partner fondled her, police said. The girl reportedly was told to put on her top several times and was arrested when she refused. Sillings said there were "numerous incidents" of girls peeling off their bathing suits. Six officers were injured by flying rocks and bottles and at least a dozen other people were hurt in fist fights and by broken glass. A dozen ambulances went to the scene during the day. The violence broke out late in the afternoon when officers attempted to arrest several individuals on suspicion of possession of marijuana and public intoxication.

Hurl Insults
Crowds formed around the arrest scene and hurled insults and objects at the arresting officers. Police, with drawn night sticks, moved the crowds back. Skirmished continued to take place, mostly in the area between POP pier and the foot of Rose Avenue, and finally at 4:48 p.m., officers mounted a huge concrete drain cover - on which a phalanx of sound equipment

Turn to Page 10 (Webslave note: which we don't have)

Excerpt from:

Tales of the Blue Meanie
by Allan Cole

CHAPTER EIGHT: Riotous Behavior

Although I hadn't known the details, I'd heard there was going to be a big to-do in our neighborhood. Builders had been busy on the opposite corner of Washington Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, where a mini-mall had been in progress for several months. There was a state-of-the-art Laundromat and cleaners, several restaurants, trendy boutiques, a wine merchant, a Thirty One Flavors ice cream parlor, etc. All aimed at the upscale crowd already gathering at the new yacht harbor in Marina Del Rey - whose completion by the Army Corps Of Engineers was scandalously overdue and over budget.

About half of the mini-mall was owned by a couple of Venice eccentrics whom I'd recently profiled in my column in the Outlook. One guy called himself Fish Face Sam and he'd made his fortune in Alaska - a fortune he'd since grown even bigger by buying and selling the Sizzler Steak House chain, the proceeds of which he was now investing in mini-malls, which were called "vest pocket malls" back then.

His partner in the enterprise was "Circus Saul" Blumenthal, an eighty-something former carnival strongman who owned half-a-dozen pizza franchises and one fairly decent bar and grill near the Santa Monica Pier. They made a weird pair: Fish Face was six foot six or so, and admitted weighing over 350 very pudgy pounds. "I tried the Slim-Fast diet," he told me, "but doggone it, I could drink three or four of those suckers and a couple cheese burgers and an order of fries and I lost nary a damn pound." Circus Saul was about five foot four or five, weighed close to 200 pounds and there wasn't a lick of fat on him. Even at plus eighty he was solid muscle with biceps you could bend bars over - a feat he'd once performed for Barnum and Bailey back when it was just Barnum - or maybe it was just Bailey - but he had the pictures and press notices to prove his claims.

Circus Saul and Fish Face were radical capitalists - that's what they called themselves, anyway. They hated LBJ, despised Richard Nixon even more and had pledged ten thousand dollars each to the newly formed organization "Businessmen For Peace." They also vowed to stage various concerts up and down the state to raise awareness and funds for their cause.

So, although I was thrilled when Jan told us Country Joe was going to appear at the mall opening, I wasn't exactly surprised. It was the sort of a gesture I might have expected from Circus Saul and Fish Face Sam.

After checking the details, I made sure the entertainment editor got a little notice plus a file picture of Country Joe - provided by yours truly - in Friday's paper. Unless you take a peek back at the times, you can't understand what a big deal this was. The editorial policy of the Evening Outlook was somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. However, the Funk Brothers passionately coveted the zillions of greenbacks being spent by that magic age group, 18 to 35. In other words, my ge-ge- generation. So the entertainment editor, who was fatter that Fish Face Sam and just as short as Circus Saul, reluctantly agreed to post picture and item. The result was that on the day of the concert half of Venice turned out, jamming Washington Boulevard from the beach all the way to Lincoln Boulevard and spilling over onto our street.

Thom and Stoner Tom - whom I mentioned before - had recently moved into the corner unit. Both were former medics back from a tour of duty in Korea. Thom was a reporter for the Daily Breeze, some ten or fifteen miles south of Venice, and Stoner Tom was an orderly at a local hospital. The upstairs master bedroom of their two-story apartment overlooked the square where Country Joe and the gang were due to perform. With all their windows open we had the best seats in the house. We also had plenty of food, drink and a generous quantity of various inducements - some straight from the medical locker at Stoner Tom's hospital.

About twenty of us crowded into the apartment, including Thom and Tom's girlfriends; Roger and Jack; the lady artist and her latest lovers, a stunning black girl and a young blonde Viking boy; me and Carol; my brother Charles and his girlfriend Lori Prang, a budding actress of much talent; and many, many more, including Marita, whose eyes were a dazzling Benzedrine blue. We had Jason propped up in his high chair to witness the historic occasion.

The Jefferson Street Jug Band struck up its first number, a rousing rendition of "Big Bad Bill."

"…Big bad Bill don't fight any more
Now he does the dishes and he mops up the floor.
Well he used to go out, jus' lookin' for a fight,
Now he's got to see his mama every night.
Big Bad Bill is Sweet William now…"

Jan and Alita looked marvelous in their sexy little white leather outfits and were just starting to really get into their go-go girl act. But before anyone got very far, I spotted a phalanx of LAPD cars pushing through the crowd, forcing themselves up to the outdoor stage. The crowd took immediate offense and loud voices were heard over the jug band's amplified music. I could see this could get ugly really fast and instead of a joyous occasion we might be served up a riot, courtesy of the "Protect And Serve" boys of LAPD.

I raced down the stairs and was out the front door in seconds. I caught up with Bob Smith, the Outlook photographer assigned to cover the rally. Smitty, a tall, heavyset man who could twist himself into impossible positions to grab a shot, was one of the very best all around news photographers in Los Angeles County - if not the state. Back in early August Smitty and I had been the first news people on the scene of the Sharon Tate murders, later to be known as the "Manson murders" when old Charlie and his girls were busted.

Smitty had shot the first pictures and I'd filed the first story, complete with the identities of all the victims, which no other news outfit got straight for nearly 24 hours. Smitty was also without par when it came to feature shots that described key moments in very human terms. And so when I caught up with him he was coming up behind the cop cars, snapping pictures of the angry faces of the crowd as the tension built.

I tapped him on the shoulder and waved for him to follow me. "Hide the camera," I said as we weaved through the crowd. People have strange reactions to news cameras, live or still. Sometimes they'll preen, or clown around. Sometimes they'll turn away, hiding their faces. Sometimes they'll become sullen and act out against the camera as if it were a tool of all they feared. At this particular moment, it was my professional opinion that if the crowd erupted any cameraman in sight would be fucked big time. There were rumors, mostly true, that undercover cops and federal agents were posing as news photographers.

The cop cars came to a stop, doors slammed open and the pigs took up various threatening positions as Captain Emory, the fearless commander of the Venice Division, climbed out of the lead car to confront Fish Face Sam and Circus Saul, who were poised in front of the bandstand, as if shielding it from attack.

On the stage, the washtub bass player - a tall, lanky young man with a pixie-like grin - leaned over and cranked up the speakers. Although I didn't know it at the time, the pixie was Kerry Fahey. Meanwhile, Jan and Alita shouted encouragement and shook it up so hard that their various parts were in danger of flying off into the crowd. The main thing was that the louder music and boob and butt shaking worked its charm, momentarily diverting attention from the rude intrusion of the cops.

Captain Emory shouted something at Sam and Saul. Both men shrugged and made motions - we can't hear you. Emory shouted louder, his face purpling with effort. Still, no dice. Frustrated, he reached out - he badly wanted to grab someone by the shirt front. His hand started toward the behemoth that was Fish Face, thought better of it, and veered for the much shorter - and way older - Saul. Mr. Blumenthal grinned an innocent grin and took the captain's hand as if it were being offered for a shake. Then, with no noticeable effort on his part, he squeezed.

Emory's face turned white.

At first he tried to match the handshake man-to-man. But soon he was so far outclassed that his jaw dropped and he tried to come in closer to relieve the pressure. Circus Saul stepped back and tightened his grip. I thought Emory was going to drop to his knees. None of his officers had any idea what was going down - they were too busy falling in lust with Jan and Alita. Emory's left hand came around, trying to claw for his gun or club, but everything was on the wrong side.

I slipped forward, my press badge raised high. I caught Fish Face's attention first, who nudged Circus Saul. When Saul spotted me he smiled a pearly denture-white smile and released Emory's hand. Emory stood there gasping in pain and humiliation and he honest-to-God tried to get out his gun with his freed right hand but it was so numb he couldn't maintain a grip on the butt.

Then he spotted me and my press badge and I could see the conflicting emotions running through his brain. Could he or could he not get away with really hurting some people? Maybe he could break my head as well. On the other hand, I was the press. And as that registered I saw that he was starting to wonder if this might be a setup.

I made motions at the deli/wine shop, which was only a few yards away, and mouthed the words: "Let's all go talk." Emory hesitated, then nodded. I led the way and soon the four of us were behind the thick glass doors of the deli, the music and crowd sounds reduced to a mere roar. With no orders, the police officers were just standing around enjoying the show. The crowd soon forgot their presence and everybody just got down and grooved, as we said in the days when vinyl records had grooves to accept diamond-tipped needles.

Emory got to the point. "This is an unlawful gathering. Shut it down voluntarily, or I will do it myself."

Fish Face guffawed - a belly laugh from a protuberance King Kong would've envied. "Why, shucks, sheriff," he said in a mock drawl. "What's unlawful about folks jes' havin' a little fun." He shook his head. "Shoot, I 'member the time in Juneau when the whole town turned out for a drunk that lasted a week-and-a-half. Nobody hurt, 'cept some greenhorns who fucked with some sleepy sled dogs."

"This is not Juneau, Alaska," Captain Emory growled. "This is Venice, California, where crime and drugs are rampant. Why, as I exited my car I smelled the distinctive odor of marijuana."

In a thick Bronx accent, Circus Saul said, "Are you sure it wasn't the barbecue you were smelling, officer? We're barbecuing the hamburgers and the kosher hot dogs and the beef ribs. This is a day of music and food and celebration."

Emory said, "I don't care what you're serving. There's too many people here. It constitutes a mob. And on private property no less."

Fish Face snorted. "This here's our private property, sheriff. And if I have my druthers, you'll get your ass and your deputies' asses off our range pronto."

"Don't call me sheriff," Emory roared.

Saul waved an admonishing finger at the giant who was his partner. "This fellow was never elected by anyone, Sam," he said. He turned back to Emory. "If truth be told, and I always tell the truth, I didn't even vote for your boss - Mayor Whatchamacallit." He was referring to the less than honorable Mayor Sam Yorty. "But I did take the trouble to visit City Hall and get a permit for this event." He nudged his big buddy. "Show him, Sam."

Sam grinned hugely, pulling out a large document and shaking it in front of Emory's face. "Shit fire and save the matches," Fish Face said. "Seems this here ain't no unlawful assembly after all."

Emory's face was expressionless. Sam said, "But you knew this already, didn't you, Captain."

Emory nodded. "It's unlawful if I determine that a riot might occur," he said. "And that's my determination as of this minute."

While he'd been talking, Smitty had slipped into the deli and was recording the whole tension-filled scene with his motor drive Nikon. Captain Emory suddenly realized that he was there.

"Who the hell is he?" he roared. "This is a private meeting. Official police business. Anything happens here is off the goddamned record."

Smitty paused to adjust his angle, then kept on shooting, except he'd turned on his flash so it was going, pop, pop, pop - illuminating the rage of the good Captain Emory.

I said, "I'm sorry if you misunderstood, Captain, but I never mentioned anything about this being off the record." I indicated my notebook, filled with many pages of my frantic scribbling. "But I have to wrap this up pretty quick and get outside before the riot begins."

Emory stiffened. "Riot? What riot?"

Ignoring him, I turned to Smitty. "Looks like things are going to get pretty hot when Captain Emory starts arresting people. Maybe you ought to call in some backup."

Smitty nodded. "That's what I was thinking," he said. He looked around, spotted a pay phone by the door and headed for it. "Shouldn't take long," he said.

I fixed my attention on Sam and Saul, ignoring the livid commander of the Venice Division. I said, "We've got a stringer for Time Magazine on the photo staff. Add Country Joe MacDonald to the equation and you guys are guaranteed national coverage." I paused for effect, then added with unconcealed glee, "Congratulations, gentlemen. Through no fault of you own, you and 'Businessmen For Peace' are about to get a couple of million dollars worth of free national advertising."

"Free," Fish Face said. "My favorite word."

"I like free and national advertising better," Circus Saul said. He turned to Emory. "Be our guest, Captain. You'll be doing us a big favor when you start that riot."

Fish Face said, "Kinda odd, you know? Over in little old Woodstock, New York, the cops there just oversaw thousands of kids havin' a good time for themselves. Listenin' to music, dancin', doing things kids do in the summertime." He shook his head in mock sadness. "And here we are in sophisticated Los Angeles, with a bitty crowd at a vest pocket mall tryin' to hear some tunes. And the cops are about to start a riot." He looked at the heavens. "Have mercy on him, Lord. He's just a poor ignoramus."

Once again I saw a look on Captain Emory's face that made me wonder if he was going to shoot us all. Instead, he growled an oath, turned on his heels and stalked out the door. A moment later all the squad cars peeled away.

Then there was loud applause for the opening band, followed by wild cheers for the featured act as Country Joe MacDonald and his band mounted the platform.

Joe roared into the microphone: "Give me an F."
The crowd shouted "F!"
"Gimme a U."
"U!" "Gimme a C."
"Gimme a K."
"What's that spell?"
"What's that spell?
"I can't here you!"
I still can't hear you!
Then he and the band broke into the Vietnam Rag:

"And it's one, two, three…
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven…
Open up the pearly gates,
Well, there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! We're all gonna die…"

The crowd sang along in a thunderous voice the gods would have envied:

"…And it's one, two, three…
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam."

© 2005 Allan Cole, used with permission

Webslave's note: Tales Of The Blue Meanie can be obtained here. Check out www.acole.com for further information about Allan and his books and screenplays.


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Webslave's note: Tales Of The Blue Meanie can be obtained here. Check out www.acole.com for further information about Allan and his books and screenplays.



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1969 KSL Box 837 Venice was sent in by Moe Stavnezer







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